As Dubai hosts the 2020 World Expo, the country has been progressing to become “the world’s most sustainable and accessible city by 2020”. With support to the objective of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mahommed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s “My Community…A City for Everyone” initiated to transform the country accessible for all people regardless of disabilities. 

We live in a society where ‘vulnerable’ individuals struggle to access public facilities. Designers identify the real-life restrictions that ‘vulnerable’ people face inside the community and developed accessible placemaking in architectural design. So, the insight to ‘who’ we design for improvised the whole concept of sensitive designing. We all must recognize that “an accessible environment is also an inclusive environment is the key to adopting a ‘design for all’ approach (Universal Design) that has both economic and social benefits.” (Accessibility Code Standard for the Built Environment in the Creative Clusters). As a part of this initiative, Leyan Engineering has worked on several projects across UAE. 

Here we discuss the Top 5 things to know about Accessibility Law in sustainable designing: 

1. Eliminate Accessibility Dividend

The ‘positive design’ integrates accessibility as the main part of it. But, it should benefit and enhance the space aesthetically, putting people and accessibility together, not as two separate aims. 

2. Accessibility Exemptional Areas

Accessibility Code does not apply to a place built for the usage of a single-family or any space that harms the ‘vulnerable’ such as

a) Process plants, equipment rooms, and machinery spaces

b) Construction sites. 

c) Loading Docks.

d) Mezzanine floors are used only for storage, plant, and equipment.

e) Hazardous product storage. 

3. Mix-use Accessible Neighbourhood

Accessible design must incorporate the comfort of every user in the design provision through a mix-use accessible design and the masterplan development such as, 

1) Reducing distances and the need to travel by car. 

2) Giving priority to pedestrians

3) Delivering High Connectivity

4) Developing a comfortable environment with appropriate levels and infrastructure.

4. Accessible Sanitary Facilities

The sanitary facilities shall be convenient and appropriately designed for all the users to access regardless of gender, age, physical ability, or mental capacity. Vulnerable users should be able to use facilities independently, both a urinal and washbasin in the washroom. 

Common features to consider while designing Sanitary Facilities, 

1. Wheelchair-accessible Unisex Toilets, 2. Toilets In Separate-sex Washrooms

3. Wheelchair-accessible Changing And Shower Facilities, 4. Wheelchair-accessible Bathrooms, 5. Prayer Washing Facilities, 6. Accessible Baby Changing Facilities

5. Accessible Means of Escape

The building design shall ensure accessibility to escape in the event of a fire or emergency safely. Fire and Safety management should update accessible escape plans regularly with the following features:

a) Horizontal evacuation to a different fire compartment 

b) Making all escape routes accessible 

c) The use of lifts 

d) Installing additional handrails and edge markings

Staff should receive the appropriate training in disability awareness and the use of specialist types of equipment. There should be ongoing reviews of advanced technologies and training. 

The Accessibility Code For The Built Environment developed by the Dubai Creative Clusters Authority mentioned a detailed standard of design and construction which you can refer from: Accessibility Code Standard for the Built Environment in the Creative Clusters, First Edition, October 2016.