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Information, Grading System and Audit

Access Unlimited has developed an information and decision support system for data analysis of accessibility of existing facilities for people with disabilities.

The most common way for a professional to assess accessibility of a facility is through a personal visit to the site.
The subjective experience of the professional evaluator – or possibly even two evaluators – might result in different conclusions regarding the same building, however, thus resulting in confusion or inconsistency.
For example: if there is one step at the entrance to the building, one professional might rate that building as inaccessible due to its non-compliance with accessibility standards. However, a second professional might determine it to be partially accessible, as most wheelchair users may be able to enter the building with relatively minor assistance.
Another professional might rate the building accessible, providing that other elements of the building comply with standards. The single step might be determined to be an obstacle which can be easily overcome by most people with disabilities.

The issue of inconsistency in assessment thus becomes a major cause for the lack of trust found in those who desperately seek, and need, reliable information. It also often leads to those individuals simply avoiding going out, since they have no way of knowing what they will encounter.
This situation prevents their full integration into society, the opposite result of what the accessibility assessment was intended to achieve.

It is for this reason that Access Unlimited developed a decision support system, designed to enable contractors to provide consistent, reliable and bias-free information and data analysis for accessibility audit purposes.

Our unique worldwide system, which has been presented at many international conferences, is based on mathematical equations which separately grade the accessibility of each specific element and space (ie: parking, entrance, restroom, food service area, etc.). Other equations are defined to provide an overall weighted grade for the entire facility.

The system was researched and based on knowledge accumulated by professionals over time as well as by people affected by mobility, sensory and cognitive disabilities.

Three levels of analysis form the grading system:

  • Regulations which comprise the equal rights laws for people with disabilities
  • Physical and sensory abilities of the average wheelchair user, those with mobility impairments who use aid devices such as walkers, and/or those who are visually and/or hearing-impaired
  • Physical needs of those with disabilities to enable them to use and experience a facility

These three levels provide a reliable analysis of the range of accessibility of the facility from the ideal level, at which the building is accessible to all, to the level at which it is inaccessible to some.

The grading is dependent on the type of disability as well as the type of facility (ie: hotel, office building, nature reserve, etc.). In this way, the special requirements for each disability are taken into consideration as well as the specific requirements of the law for the types of facilities. The reason is simple: a person’s reasonable use of a building depends on the function that building fulfills.

The accessibility grading is automatic and therefore is objective, consistent and not subject to irrelevant considerations. Personal impressions, cleanliness, quality of service and similar issues are graded subjectively.

The system is flexible and can be used as an audit tool in other areas as well. A wide range of reports can be produced and presented in different forms, and with differing depth of detail, from reports providing information for consumers with disabilities, to reports that provide support to policy makers, designers and other professionals, institutions, organizations and managers.

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