2014-04-21: Notwithstanding the, by now, well-established existence of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD), International Standard ISO 21542: ‘Building Construction – Accessibility & Usability of the Built Environment’, a host of other national accessibility standards, and a plethora of accessibility design guidance materials … not every ‘real’ site, or building, or built environment, situation is covered. It would be physically impossible.
Unless it is fixed in your mind … or, more importantly, in the ‘group-thinking’ of an organization … that Accessibility-for-All should be, for example, both independent (i.e. it is not necessary for a person to have an assistant) and inclusive (i.e. friends can do things together and no special deal is made about accessibility for one person) … it can be very difficult to emerge from beneath the weight of those documents referred to above … and to apply important disability-related principles flexibly and adaptively in the real world.
At a recent meeting with some teachers in an Irish school (which shall remain nameless) … I advised that a very good and positive start can be made by discussing together and agreeing on a Disability Policy Statement, which will help to guide future actions. More steps are required, of course, but those will come later.
Model Disability Policy Statement for Educational Establishments
Insofar as it relates to the educational activities of
Name of School/College/University/Institute
and its relationships in the wider local community …
We recognise and respect the rights of people with activity limitations:
- to lead a fulfilling life – autonomously, independently, and with dignity ;
- to integrate into the civil, political, economic, social, cultural and educational mainstream ; and
- to participate in the general life of the wider local community on a basis of equal opportunity with everyone else.
Good Education is an Important Key to Social Inclusion
In order to ensure your autonomy and independence, your civil, political, economic, social, cultural and educational integration, and your active participation in the general life of the wider local community – the principle of equal opportunity shall not prevent the adoption or maintenance of services, systems and policies providing for your support or assistance within this establishment.
[ Discussed and Agreed by the School/College/University/Institute Management Board on …… ]