New SLS Standard for disabled-friendly buildings

Accessibility to public buildings and facilities is an inherent right and our moral duty and social responsibility to design future public constructions to enable rather than disable the significant and increasing number of our people who have curtailed mobility, Science and Technology Minister Tissa Vitarana said.

At the introduction of Sri Lanka Standard SLS ISO TR 9527:2006 for building construction, the Minister said that when planning construction of public buildings, equal opportunities should be given to the disabled persons to participate in normal social life.

Sri Lanka Standards Institution Chairman Dr. A. R. L. Wijesekera said that the recent court ruling has come at the right time as it will help enormously for people to put into practice this Sri Lanka Standard in building construction.

“Sri Lanka Standard here will help the architects, engineers and builders to know what needs and necessities should be met by them in providing reasonable access to the physically disabled at new public buildings”, he said.

Disability rights activist and disabled Chartered Chemist Dr. Ajith C. S. Perera said the following key parts of a new public building - not just their entrances - in the commercial, recreational, social, educational, residential and industrial categories as the law specifies, should be designed in accordance with the minimum design requirements there: doors and entrances, pathways and corridors, floor surfaces, steps and stairs, hand rails and grab bars, ramps (where needed), lifts, toilets, car parks and signage.

Dr. Perera further said: “The design requirements specified by the laws in this standard are relatively few and cost less than 0.02% of the total building expenditure. Compare the colossal wastes, loss in productivity for generations and denial of significant benefits incurred by failure to implement ‘right measures rightly’. They far outweigh the investment costs.”

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