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Inclusive post-disaster reconstruction: Building back safe and accessible for all - 16 minimum requirements for building accessible shelters

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Introduction

Design for All is design for human diversity, social inclusion and equality.

Why is incorporation of universal design and accessibility principles into post disaster response so important?

An estimated one billion people (or about 15% of the world’s population) are living with disability, 80% of these in lower income countries.

In the event of a disaster they are among the most at-risk members of society. During disaster response, persons with a disabilities are often excluded from accessing emergency support and essential services such as food distribution, medical care, shelter and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities.

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) requires that disaster preparedness and response initiatives are inclusive of, and accessible to, persons with disabilities. The SPHERE guidelines make explicit reference to accessibility and to persons with disabilities as a vulnerable group. Key actions for disability inclusion are outlined in the SPHERE handbook.

A barrier-free environment helps to ensure full and equal participation in society by all, regardless of age, gender or ability, with dignity and with as much independence as possible. Universally designed shelters benefit not only persons with disabilities but other people with reduced mobility, such as elderly people, pregnant women, young children or people who are temporarily impaired. Consequently, they benefit whole families and communities

The inclusion of universal design and accessibility principles into post disaster response work contributes towards a barrier free environment and an inclusive society: A society accessible for persons with disabilities is one accessible to all.