Principles of Accessibility

 
Before we delve into the details of accessibility, it is important to be familiar with the principles underlying the concept of accessibility. Understanding and internalizing these principles will enable us to apply good judgement while carrying out accessibility.

​The Inclusion Principle

The inclusion principle is the most fundamental idea underlying accessibility. According to this principle, persons with a disability are part of the general public, and as such persons with a disability should be able to engage in the physical and service spheres in the same manner as the general public and without being separated from the public. Accessibility adjustments and assistive aids and devices are used to provide full access to the public sphere. These adjustments and assistive aids are not considered a violation of the inclusion principle.

 

For example: a building that houses a public library is inaccessible. The library enables persons with a disability to reserve books by phone and to pick them up from the security guard at the entrance to the building in which the library is located. This solution violates the inclusion principle because persons with a disability are precluded from spending time at the library, browsing through books found in the library, participating in activities taking place at the library, etc.

 

Another example: the main entrance of an office building is inaccessible to persons using wheelchairs. Instead, the building enables these individuals to enter the building through the supplier entrance at the back of the building. The supplier entrance is physically accessible, yet since it is not intended for visitors it does not lead directly to the lobby of the building (where the information desk and direction signs are located), it is not always open and the security guard must be called on the intercom. Despite the fact that the accessible entrance enables entry into the building it violates the inclusion principle. According to this principle, the main entrance to a building must be accessible.

 

The Continuum Principle

The continuum principle refers to the ability of persons with a disability to perform a full and complete sequence of activities that result in receiving full service while investing reasonable time and effort. To maintain this principle, the sequence of activities must be ensured from the arrival stage, through consumption of the services and use of facilities at the location where they are offered, up to exiting the premises. One break in the activity sequence may prevent persons with a disability from completing the activity they seek to execute.

 

For example: persons with a mobility disability that use a wheelchair want to go to the service center of a mobile phone company to repair their phone. To do so they must pass through a series of locations, all of which must be accessible, including the routes between them: they must enter the parking area, park in a parking space for persons with a disability, get from the parking space into the building, find an accessible elevator, follow direction signage from the elevator to an accessible information desk, be referred to the relevant service provider (an accessible place allocation system), go from the information desk to the waiting area, sit in the waiting area, get to the service provider’s office, the service provider’s office must be accessible, the service provided must be accessible, etc.

 

The Flexibility Principle and provision of available adjustments

As there is vast disparity in the special needs people have and the situations they encounter, adjustments must be provided with respect to means of arrival, mobility and service provision. Adjustments must be varied and flexible so that they are suited to the variety of needs. Thus, for example, in certain cases the service provider must be equipped with the proper device for sound amplification so that persons with an audio disability will be able to receive service in a dignified manner. In other cases the adjustment may involve interpretation to sign language, etc.

 

Ensuring accessibility during the transition period

Implementing the law will be a gradual process that will last several years. Therefore, in the interim period alternatives must be provided until accessibility is fully accomplished. For example – in a building that does not have an elevator and in which a service is provided to the public on several floors, an area must be allocated on the accessible floor to a service representative who will handle inquiries of customers who cannot climb stairs.