Accessibility is the law: A review of environmental assessments to improve access by ProQuest


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									Accessibility is the law: A review of environmental
assessments to improve access
Jessica Malpage, Pei-En Shih and Lisa Klinger

 Part one of two                                             experts, and academics with expertise in the area, as
 Part one includes the descriptions and review of home       well as searches within various association, public
 assessments. Part two, coming in the May issue of OT        agency and government web-
 Now, will include the descriptions and reviews of the       sites. Search terms included           About the author –
                                                                                                    Jessica Malpage, BA(Kin),
 public facility assessments.                                “(architectural) accessibility”,
                                                                                                    MSc(OT), OT Reg (Ont),
                                                             “home assessment”, “environ-           CanTRA AI, is currently
 Over the past few years, there has been increasing          mental assessment”, “physical          filling a maternity leave at
 recognition that built environments can either limit        environment”, “physical access”,       Guelph General Hospital,
 or enable participation in home and community life,         “occupational therapy”, “com-          and works on a casual
                                                             munity”, “public building”, “dis-      basis in the motor vehicle
 especially for someone with a disability. Canadian
                                                                                                    claim field. She volunteers
 federal and provincial governments have responded           ability”, “barrier-free design”, and
                                                                                                    as a therapeutic horse-
 with human rights laws forbidding discrimination            “universal design”, individually       back riding instructor in
 based on mental or physical disability. In the province     and combined.                          her spare time. She can
 of Ontario, legislation was enacted in 2005 to elimi-         Literature on the assessments        be contacted at jessica.
 nate barriers by 2025 (Government of Ontario, 2005);        was located using titles of the

 enforceable standards for the built environment, to         assessments as keywords and            Pei-En (Pam) Shih,
 which all sectors of the economy will have to comply,       the reference lists of all selected    MSc(OT), is currently
                                                             articles (Pai et al., 2004). Assess-   working as an occupa-
 are currently being drafted. Organizations like the
                                                                                                    tional therapist at Peace
 Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives are pushing         ments were included if they
                                                                                                    Arch Hospital in White
 for measures to be enacted across Canada to ensure          evaluated the home or at least         Rock, BC. She can be
 rights for persons with disabilities to participate fully   one kind of public facility, ad-       contacted at pam_shih@
 in society, which will include reducing poverty and         dressed physical attributes of
 barriers to employment, equalizing access to trans-         the environment for accessibility, lisa Klinger, BSc(OT),
 portation and electronic resources, and eliminating         usability, and/or safety, pro-         MSc, OT Reg (Ont), is a
 barriers in the built environment (Healy, 2008).            vided sufficient instructions for      lecturer at the School of
                                                                                                    Occupational Therapy at
   Although the experience of clients, who are experts       administration, were published
                                                                                                    the University of Western
 in their own context, must lead the way, occupational       in English between 1994 and            Ontario. She can be con-
 therapists have a great deal of expertise to offer,         January 2008 and were available        tacted at
 particularly when they are able to combine their pro-       in the public domain.
 fessional knowledge with good assessment tools. As-            Research articles were selected
 sessments of the built environment can be purchased,        if they provided information (i.e. instrument develop-
 but these may be expensive or time-consuming to             ment or reliability and validity testing) on any of the
 obtain, whereas many assessments can be found               assessments that met the inclusion criteria. Appli-
 online. We felt there would be value in
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