A new OA Ambassador Spotlight Blog has landed!
Our OA Ambassadors raise awareness in their local communities about global OA movements as well as related opportunities through IWA Publishing. They are representatives of both the International Water Association and IWA Publishing and our joint goals to empower the next generation of water leaders and to shape the future of the water sector. These blog posts highlight their specialty and research focus, as well as emphasising the importance of Open Access publishing.
Kator is a civil engineer and MSc student from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, committed to environmental sustainability. Explore Kator's previous blog posts here, or connect with him on LinkedIn!
UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
The CRPD is an international human rights treaty that specifically addresses the rights and needs of people with disabilities. It emphasizes the principles of non-discrimination, equality of opportunity, accessibility, and full and effective participation in society. The CRPD obliges state parties to ensure that people with disabilities can access and use water services without discrimination. It advocates for the integration of accessibility features in all aspects of water infrastructure design and implementation. The CRPD provides a framework for countries to develop disability-inclusive policies and legislation related to water accessibility, ensuring the participation of people with disabilities in decision-making processes.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Water Accessibility
SDG 6 is focused on ensuring access to clean water and sanitation for all. By targeting "all," this goal emphasizes the importance of inclusivity, ensuring that people with disabilities are not left behind in achieving equitable access to water services. Goal 10 aims to reduce inequalities within and among countries, including promoting social, economic, and political inclusion of all individuals. Disability-inclusive water infrastructures contribute to achieving this goal by addressing disparities faced by people with disabilities. SDG 11 focuses on making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable. Implementing disability-inclusive water infrastructures is crucial for creating accessible and inclusive communities.
Addressing Challenges: Key Considerations for Disability-Inclusive Water Infrastructure
Universal Design Principles
Equitable Use: Ensure that water facilities are designed to be usable by all individuals, including those with disabilities, without the need for specialized adaptations or separate facilities. Also, avoid creating barriers that could exclude certain groups from accessing water services.
Flexibility in Use: Design water infrastructure to accommodate a wide range of individual preferences and abilities. It is also important to consider different user needs, such as varying heights for taps and controls, to make the facilities accessible to all.
Simple and Intuitive Use: Create water facilities that are easy to understand and operate, promoting independent use by people with various disabilities. Use clear signage and visual cues to guide users through the process.
Perceptible Information: Ensure that information related to water facilities is presented in multiple formats, such as Braille, large print, and audio, to cater to individuals with sensory disabilities. Use visual and tactile markers to aid navigation and orientation for those with visual impairments.
Tolerance for Error: Design water infrastructure with built-in features that minimize the likelihood of accidents or errors for users with disabilities. Incorporate safety measures, such as slip-resistant surfaces and secure handrails, to reduce the risk of falls.
Low Physical Effort: Minimize the physical effort required to use water facilities, making them accessible to individuals with limited strength or mobility. Implement features like lever-operated taps and light doors that are easy to open and close.
Size and Space for Approach and Use: Provide adequate space around water facilities to allow wheelchair users and individuals with mobility aids to approach and use them comfortably. Ensure that there are no obstructions that may hinder the movement of users with disabilities.
Engaging the Disabled Community
Collaborative Planning and Involvement: Include representatives from the disabled community, such as disabled persons' organizations (DPOs), advocacy groups, and individuals with disabilities, in the early stages of water infrastructure planning. Also engage them as key stakeholders in identifying needs, preferences, and challenges faced by people with disabilities related to water access.
Gathering Feedback and Insights from the Community: Conduct regular consultations and focus group discussions with the disabled community to gain a deeper understanding of their experiences and requirements regarding water infrastructure. Seek feedback on existing water facilities and identify areas of improvement to make them more inclusive.
Empowering Disabled Individuals to Participate in Decision-Making: Promote the meaningful participation of disabled individuals in decision-making processes related to water infrastructure development and policies. Provide training and capacity-building programs to enhance the leadership and advocacy skills of disabled individuals, enabling them to effectively voice their concerns and needs.
By engaging the disabled community in the planning and decision-making processes, stakeholders can gain valuable insights into the specific challenges faced by individuals with disabilities in accessing water services. It also ensures that their perspectives are taken into account and that water infrastructure solutions are tailored to meet their unique needs. This approach fosters a sense of ownership and empowerment among people with disabilities, creating a more inclusive and responsive water infrastructure development strategy. Moreover, by working in collaboration with disabled individuals and organizations, policymakers and implementers can identify innovative solutions that go beyond compliance with basic accessibility standards and truly address the diverse requirements of the disabled community.