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Universal Accessibility Strategic Actions


Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Global

Project Description:

National Strategic Action Projects

The following projects undertaken in Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE all have a common focus of introducing the concept of Universal Accessibility (UA) to the Gulf States. These are considered pioneering projects for the Middle East.

1. Qatar Access Strategy, Qatar (2008)

The Supreme Council for Family Affairs, headquartered in Doha in association with Rehabilitation International engaged Dr. Joseph Kwan to review the Construction and Engineering Charts and Features Guide to Buildings for Special Needs Persons in 2008. The project in three phases involved reviewing the Guide and amending it in accordance with the international standards concerning feasibility of access of special needs persons, preparing the Survey Form of selected public buildings with list of modifications and additions required by the Guide and preparing and overseeing a series of workshops to identify the most prominent amendments required for the buildings to be made accessible.

2. Universal Accessibility Programme, Saudi Arabia (2010-12)

The Prince Salman Center for Disability Research based in Riyadh under the patronage of Prince Salman, currently King Salman of Saudi Arabia, engaged UDA Consultants as the Team Leader to prepare four Universal Accessibility Design Guidelines for the Kingdom namely: Built Environment, Accessible Land Transportation, Accessible Marine Transportation, and Accessible Destination & Places of Accommodation. The other team members were UA experts from Canada and South Africa. These Design Guidelines eventually became the basis of the National Code of Practice on Accessibility for Saudi Arabia.

3. Kuwait Access Strategy, Kuwait (2012-13)

The Kuwait Society for the Handicapped in association with The Arab Fund for Economic & Social Development engaged Dr. Joseph Kwan in association with Rehabilitation International to prepare The Kuwait Access Strategy that studied the possibility of applying Article 9: Accessibility of the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN-CRPD) for the benefit of the State of Kuwait. The content of the Strategy Report include: Access Policy Provisions with samples of Access Legislation, Opportunities and Access Challenges, Review of Global Access Regulations and References to accessible public domain, site access, building interior access. A series of Worships and Training sessions were also conducted for the professional bodies as well as for students of architecture in Kuwait.

4. Universal Accessibility Training on Public Transportation, Dubai, UAE (2016)

As part of The Dubai Universal Accessibility Strategy and Action Plan, UDA Consultants was engaged to conduct training sessions for personnel of Road and Transport Authority (RTA) in Dubai, that included: site walks and simulation exercises to staff working in Dubai Metro and Tram, Bus and School Bus, Marine Vessel and Land & Water Taxis industry. The training also addressed means to identify problematic areas and to provide recommendations including design suggestions and practical solutions to overcome the barriers identified.

Global Strategic Actions through Advocacy, Education, Publication and Knowledge Dissemination

Advocacy, Education, Publication and Knowledge Dissemination.

Lectures, Seminars, Workshops and Webinars have been conducted and provided by Dr Joseph Kwan in the area of access, safety and universal design at the local, regional and international level in China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan; New Zealand; Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Tunisia; Lebanon, Turkey, Italy, Ireland, Germany, France, Poland, Latvia; Canada, USA; Brazil and Ecuador over the past decades.

Speaker for Schools of Architecture and School of Design in Hong Kong and in the Asia Pacific Region.

Publication of articles in international and UN journals, rehabilitation digests and critique papers; and also contributed to universal design guidebooks locally.

Description how the project contributes with humanity:

Projects involving Humanity can be a single built work or a complex of buildings that addresses the needs of humanity, it can equally be non-built works that equally contribute to humanitarian causes and concerns. Realization of humanitarian developments can be beyond built forms. This submission demonstrates such pioneering examples. It illustrates that contributions of non-built forms can have equally significant impact on humanity by:

– National Design Guidelines and Codes of Practice

– National Accessibility Strategy

– Capacity Building and Training

– Advocacy, Education, Publication and Knowledge Dissemination

1. Universal Accessibility Programme.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia did not have any Design Guidelines on Accessibility relating to people with disabilities (PwDs) in the early 2000. Thus, buildings were designed and built, perhaps unintentionally, with physical barriers and no accessible provisions. PwDs therefore were denied equal access to the built environment resulting in exclusion from most places and aspects of daily living. With a set of Universal Accessibility Design Guidelines, architects, planners and designers are better equipped to design the built environment that meet the needs of their ageing and disabled community.

2. Kuwait Access Strategy (KAS).

The state of Kuwait’s objective of applying UN-CRPD Article 9: Accessibility for the benefit of their people required a national access strategy to guide them to achieve this goal. By following the stages detailed in the KAS, national access policies and legislations are established, followed by design regulations and finally implementation of an accessible environment that benefit the whole nation. Humanitarian intervention at the highest level is achieved. Dr Joseph Kwan was previously engaged to prepare the Qatar Access Strategy (QAS) for the State of Qatar with similar purpose and intent.

3. UA Training on Public Transportation.

Every city requires accessible modes of transportation to connect people from their homes to schools, workplaces as well as to community, health-care, leisure and recreation facilities, otherwise the aging and disabled population will be isolated and housebound. The service providers of public transportation firstly must provide accessible modes of transport, closely followed by Disability Awareness and Sensitive Training for all staff and personnel. Capacity building of the operational side of transportation services will have significant impact on the way services are delivered to the community with care and dignity.

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4. Advocacy, Education, Publication and Knowledge Dissemination.

Humanitarian programmes and equality awareness can be realized through advocacy, education, publication and knowledge dissemination. Through public speaking in over 33 countries, knowledge on humanitarian issues, equality, rights of persons with disabilities, and accessibility are disseminated to a global audience, raising awareness and discussions on the topics of designing for dignity, diversity, and inclusion. Publications, reviews and critiques in the area of inequality and physical barriers in buildings help to highlight the lack of sensitivity in basic design thinking amongst building professionals in the provision of equitable, inclusive environments for all. Finally, information and knowledge on cutting edge concepts and innovations on universal accessibility and design can be shared openly through formal and continuing education to architectural students and practitioners. Such efforts must be enduring and sustainable to achieve real and long-term impact on Humanity.

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