3 Long road to universal design
The article describes consecutive changes in the Polish legal regulations in reference to design accounting for the persons with disabilities, from the 1994 Construction Law to the Act on Providing Accessibility for Persons with Special Needs, which entered into force in 2019. The process is divided into three stages.
First, the legal regulations directed thinking towards designing for a selected group of persons (wheelchair users) and adapting objects to their needs, rather than towards universal accessibility. The article indicates the discrepancy between this way of thinking and the legal acts created in the world at the similar time.
The second part describes implementation of legal solutions accounting for selected groups of users, mainly persons with sight and hearing impairments. The focus is on construction regulations in reference to, inter alia, railway and underground stations, as well as on the regulations regarding the accessibility of points of sale of telephone services.
The third stage has been Poland ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which required implementation of the principles of universal design in our country, and its consequences. This part of the article focuses, inter alia, on the consequences of various accessibility standards created by local governments. It also describes the governmental programme “Accessibility Plus” and the resulting Act on Providing Accessibility for Persons with Special Needs. It analyses the implemented tools, their potential, as well as the risks connected with their implementation.
Keywords: universal design, regulations, construction law, persons with disabilities