A new global guide to help businesses deliver an inclusive built environment has been published by the Business Disability Forum (BDF).
More than one billion people in the world have a disability, which can impact how a person accesses, navigates and uses the spaces and structures around them.
As the built environment includes everything from entrances, exits, stairs, lifts, signage, to parking, green spaces, roads, and transport systems, making buildings accessible for everybody is growing in importance,
‘Access for all: Creating inclusive global built environments’ aims to help businesses think about how they build back better post-COVID-19. The research considers the needs of disabled people when accessing spaces whether as a visitor, employee, customer, client or contractor. It also highlights the vital role of an inclusive design approach in creating environments that work for everyone.
The informative guide provides a definition of an inclusive built environment and why it is important for people with disabilities and businesses. It also looks at the challenges facing global businesses when creating accessible and inclusive spaces and how to create an inclusive built environment strategy.
Based on the experiences of leading global organisations, the guide goes on to highlight the key challenges facing businesses in creating inclusive such as securing senior buy-in, diversity of location, cultures, beliefs, and languages and conflicting disability requirements. To overcome these it advocates a framework that balances global consistency with local flexibility, focuses on inclusive design and genuine user engagement and draws on best practices.
The guide has been written to inform those who are involved in influencing and making decisions about an organisation’s spaces, including senior leaders, estate management teams, health, safety and environment professionals, as well as HR and diversity and inclusion professionals.
Sponsored by HSBC, the research was informed by the views of BDF members including GSK, Unilever, Freeney Williams, State Street, and Eli Lilly.
Diane Lightfoot, CEO of Business Disability Forum, commented of the report: “Everyone should be able to access buildings and enjoy spaces, regardless of disability. Creating spaces which are inclusive and accessible for people with disabilities can also help businesses to attract and retain employees and customers. Increasing efficiency and productivity, supporting sustainability, ensuring legal compliance, and enhancing the reputation, are just some of the benefits for business of building inclusively.
“We know that developing a global built environment strategy can present challenges and the size of the task can seem overwhelming. We hope our new guide will give businesses the courage to take the first step and the tools to create spaces that work for everyone – wherever they are in the world.”
Michelle Hey, Global Head of Corporate Services, HSBC, added: “The benefits of accessible and inclusive workplaces are multiple and well-proven. They support improved customer service, employee engagement, and the recruitment and retention of talent. The guidance provided by Business Disability Forum in this report is an excellent way for all organisations to embrace the change that is needed.”
‘Access for all: Creating inclusive global built environments’ can be accessed on Business Disability Forum’s Knowledge Hub.
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