Africa Feb 8, 2017
GHANA: Lack of pedestrian walkways and obstacles on routes has been identified as some of the barriers confronting pepersons with disabilities in society.
To this end the National Council on Persons with Disability (NCPD) has held a stakeholders meeting on the Ghana Accessibility Standards in a Built Environment to ensure that persons with disability have easy access to public buildings and facilities.
The workshop was aimed at sourcing inputs from participants to ensure that the document on built environment, which was launched in November 2016, becomes workable for property owners, architects and district assemblies.
The Director of Architecture at the Architectural and Engineering Services Limited (AESL), Mrs Thelma Doku, who took participants through some of the highlights in the document, said it was aimed at ensuring that people in wheelchairs, those with limited walking abilities, vision disability, older people, children, pregnant women and the temporarily disabled all have easy access to both the exterior and interior of buildings as well as public places including walkways and parks.
She said currently, what pertained in the country was that,there were obstacles on pedestrian routes such as poles in the middle of sidewalks as well as gaping holes from construction works.
In some areas, the director said there were no pedestrian walkways and, therefore, people (including persons with disability) had to compete with cars on the road, a situation which she said posed a lot of danger to pedestrians.
According to Mrs Doku, working towards a barrier-free environment called for the active participation of all stakeholders.
A former Executive Secretary of the NCPD, Mr Kwanza Dadzie-Dennis, said the document was to guide developers, designers and other partners involved in the built environment.
The document serves as a tool for the measurement or auditing of universal accessibility and increase awareness of accessibility standards, and the need for barrier-free designs in the built environment.
Section 6 of Act 715 and Article 9 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD) require that buildings, roads, indoor and outdoor facilities, including schools buildings, medical facilities and all workplaces, are made accessible to PWDs.
To this end, the NCPD, with funding from Open Society Initiative of West Africa (OSIWA) and in collaboration with various collaborators, developed the document.
Participants during an open forum called for more of such consultations to ensure that challenges in the successful implementation of the document were identified and resolved.