The European standards bodies CEN and CENELEC have approved and published the first European standard on the accessibility of the built environment: NE 17210. It should be noted that this standard was led by the ONCE Foundation and the Spanish Association for Standardization, UNE.
NE 17210 is a breakthrough for inclusive environments. This standard sets out the basic requirements and recommendations for creating an accessible and safe built environment.
The document contemplates diverse people and understands accessibility as something relevant for the entire population. Although the focus is on the needs of the most vulnerable groups such as people with functional diversity, older people and children, or those with temporary disabilities, accessibility affects all citizens and is a universal right.
Requirements of Standard EN 17210.
These are some of the requirements set out in Standard EN 17210:
- Adaptable dwellings (for life): having a living room, kitchen, bedroom, and full sink on the access floor are some of the keys.
- Ramps and horizontal circulation: Level changes in a plant should be avoided. Where this is not possible, ramps can be used to bridge the gap.
- Doors with handles: the doors must have handles that can be easily grasped and prevent clothing from getting caught. Doorknobs should not be used.
- Windows: their mechanisms must be at a height that allows a wheelchair person to open and close them easily.
- Orientation or Wayfinding: the main elements of a building must be easily identifiable, using an orientation system called Wayfinding.
- Sound Information: Induction loops must be installed so that people who use hearing aids can hear correctly.
- Tactile information: In a hotel, room numbers or toilet doors must be in relief letters, as well as Braille, to be easily identified.
- Pedestrian Crossings: Traffic lights at controlled crossings or zebra crossings must make a sound indicating when they can be crossed so there is no risk to people.
A functional requirement is one that responds to human activities, functions, and needs. There is no single criterion for its resolution. It, therefore, provides an opportunity to incorporate different technical solutions, for the different cultural, climatic, geographical, etc. circumstances of each European region.
What comes after Standard EN 17120?
After the application of EN 17120 in the built environment, it will be relevant to consider such requirements in the refurbishment or adaptation and maintenance of existing environments, provided that the application of the existing environments is feasible and has been positively assessed. Thus, a new area of exploration is opened around accessibility in existing environments. The ability and commitment to adapt and make these environments accessible will be the key to achieving inclusive cities. That is where the European challenge lies.
ZICLA and accessibility in cities.
Since 2010 ZICLA has worked to improve accessibility in cities. An example of this is its Vectorial® system which was the result of an ecodesign project carried out with the focus on design for all. This system allows building in a fast, simple, and economic way, semi-permanent modular platforms with multiple configurations that get the same result as the permanent work, but without definitely compromising the use of the road.
The Vectorial® system allows you to quickly transform urban space and improve accessibility at bus stops. It also allows to resolve the conflict between bike lanes and bus stops, and build shelters for pedestrians in a very short time. It is made up of modules that fit together, which makes it possible to build very different configurations.