First European accessibility standard on built environment approved

First European accessibility standard on built environment approved

The European Standardization Organizations CEN and CENELEC approved the first European standard on the accessibility and usability of the built environment. This much awaited technical document will be published at the very beginning of 2021, and it will help Member States, and more particularly architects, to guarantee accessibility for persons with disabilities, and many other people with functional limitations, to the physical environment.

It was drafted in response to a European Commission standardisation request, known as Mandate 420, and counted with the participation and consensus of European organisations representing all the relevant stakeholders: policy makers, national standardization bodies, representatives of persons with disabilities, users, consumers and businesses. The brand new standard is called EN 17210, Accessibility and usability of the built environment – Functional requirements. It sets out the requirements that the built environment, including urban areas, needs to fulfill in order to be considered accessible and usable.

The document was drafted in the CEN and CENELEC Joint Technical Committee 11 with European Commission support and funding. This work was led by Fundación ONCE, as Chair of the Technical Committee and UNE, the Spanish standards body which holds the Secretariat. “Standards give effective answers to the great challenges organisations face to ensure accessibility, and it provides solid support to policy makers to underpin their accessibility legislation“, said Gunta Anca, member of the EDF Executive Committee. ”We hope that European countries will use this document to progress on making the built environment of our societies more inclusive to persons with disabilities”.

The document was approved with broad support from national standards bodies. Fourteen European countries had a particularly active role in developing the standard. The active engagement of users, represented by the European Association of Consumer Representation in Standardisation (ANEC), the European Disability Forum (EDF) and AGE Platform Europe should be highlighted. Other key European organisation took part, including ENAT (the European Network for Accessible Tourism), SBS (Small Business Standards) and ETSA (the European Textile Services Association). There has been close collaboration with other technical committees on standardisation of lifts, escalators and moving walks.

The work of the technical committee for this standard continues with the development of two European Technical Reports on technical performance criteria and specifications of the accessibility of the built environment, as well as on its conformity assessment. All these technical reports will contribute to the practical implementation of the European standard just adopted. Once published in early 2021, EDF will prepare materials and recommendationis to make the best use of this historic European accessibility standard.