Accessibility of the built environment for vulnerable populations : a research report presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Construction in Quantity Surveying, School of Built Environment, Massey University, New Zealand

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The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states that the disabled have equal rights with other members of society to access the Built Environment (BE). Lots of accessibility legislation has been enacted all over the world to protect the rights of disabilities. But, what about the actual accessibility legislation compliance? It is important to evaluate to what extent the existing buildings have complied with the mandatory legislation, and how far the BE has met the needs of disabled groups to guarantee their equal human rights. This research focuses on manual wheelchair (MWC) users and BE accessibility in New Zealand. There are about 65 million people worldwide who rely on a wheelchair in their daily lives, MWC users make up around 85% of all wheelchair users. And this number is growing. This study will significantly benefit this large amount of population. It will help people more deeply understand their expectations and boost the public to improve BE accessibility and protect MWC users’ rights on the ground . . . A systematic literature review was conducted, and a research gap was identified: there isn’t a study to assess the accessibility legislation compliance of public buildings in NZ, and how well the current BE in NZ meets the MWC users’ needs. To fill this gap, an experiment of 10 case shops in NZ was conducted by measuring their practical dimensions of accessible features and comparing them with the NZ mandatory legislation. The compliance percentages were calculated by shop, by feature, and by sub-item of features. The experiment results were then compared with the findings of the literature review . . . This research will help the public better understand the practical accessibility policies implementation, the main challenges faced by MWC users, underlying causes of poor BE accessibility, and potential ways to improve the situation; it will encourage the government and the public in NZ to remove the existing barriers, address the underlying problems and finally provide an accessible BE for MWC users and protect their equal rights in practice. Other researchers can also use the data of this research, and conduct further investigations based on the findings of this study.
Research report for 218810