On ICTA & Saudi Arabia's Progressive Building Philosophy

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Awadh B S Al-Raddadi


ICTA, the International Commission on Technology and Accessibility, is an important organization for travelers with disabilities. You may never meet anyone from the organizatiion. You may never even hear of it again but it is out there working for us 24/7 all around the world.

Case in point, Experts Weigh Review of Building Codes

Experts Weigh Review of Building Codes
by M. Ghazanfar Ali Khan, Arab News

RIYADH, 3 March 2006 ­— Construction experts, planners and consultants will discuss with officials of the Building Code National Committee ways to ensure that the construction projects comply with the Universal Design code, especially keeping in view the requirements of handicapped persons.

This was decided at the closing session of a workshop chaired by Awadh B. S. Al-Raddadi, deputy minister of social affairs, here yesterday. This 11-day workshop entitled “To prepare the Built Environment for Accessibility and Technology for the Disabled” was organized by the Ministry of Social Affairs.

Speaking at the session, Al-Raddadi said that “the workshop benefited municipal officials and planners of the Kingdom and five other Arab countries.”

The move to review building codes is significant in view of the fact that about 10 percent of the population suffer from one or the other type of disabilities. Some 3.7 percent of the them suffer from severe disabilities mainly caused by accidents, physical deformations or hereditary diseases. Of them, 48 percent are youth and 38 percent are children. “Hence, the proposal to incorporate Universal Design is an important issue, which will help in providing facilities for handicapped people,” said Mukhtar Al-Shibani, coordinator of the workshop.

He said that the approval given by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah for holding this workshop in cooperation with International Commission on Technology and Accessibility (ICTA) indicated the importance Kingdom attaches to this issue.

“We would like to hold similar workshops in other Arab countries,” said Al-Shibani, adding that the building code, which is a set of technical, scientific, practical, administrative legislations and regulations laid down by the national committee to ensure the minimum acceptable limit of safety and public sanitation, should also incorporate guidelines to facilitate the people with special needs.

Referring to the need to promote UD concept, Phillip Thompson, a visiting consultant working for ICTA, said that “the UD emphasizes on designing products and making environment suitable for all people especially those with special needs to the greatest extent possible.” Thompson said that the workshop had made recommendations for formulating clear policies on the issue.

During the workshop, a core group of ICTA members provided an overview of International Accessibility Standards, models of accessibility regulations and monitoring processes. All participants were also given certificates by the ministry and ICTA.

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