CP Text: The World Bank should substantially increase its investment in Universal Design transportation infrastructure in the United States. The United States federal government will not participate in the funding for this investment. The World Bank can fund Universal Design
Harold Snider, Adjunct Associate Professor and major activist for the disabled and Nazumi Takeda, education consultant to the World Bank, October 2008, “Design For All: Implications For Bank Operations”; AB
Universal design is defined as “the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without need for adaptation or specialized design.” While the concept emerged primarily with regard to disability issues, universal design strives to be a broad-spectrum solution that helps everyone, including elderly people, people with strollers, pregnant women, and children, in addition to people with disabilities. Its goal is to remove physical barriers and create a more inclusive environment. The purpose of this paper is to inform World Bank task team leaders about the benefits of universal design and to recommend ways in which universal design can be integrated as a component in projects of the World Bank. It presents the applications of universal design particularly in infrastructure with the focus on transport, urban development, water and sanitation, education, health, and ICT sectors, as well as post-conflict and natural disaster situations. Specific factors in projects such as procurement and evaluation criteria are not addressed in this context. There are compelling reasons for the World Bank to adopt universal design. First, the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which came into force in May 2008, has provisions for universal design. Article 2 of the CRPDdefines universal design and Article 9 urges State Parties to enhance accessibilityin physical environments. The convention includes a high proportion of developing countries and is expected to increase demand for Bank support for its implementation and for ensuring accessibility on Bank financed projects. Secondly, universal design is essential for inclusive development, a core component of the World Bank’s mission for poverty reduction and the achievement of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Inclusive development recognizes diversity and aims at involving everybody into the development process. Universal design accommodates physical and sensory diversity amongpeople. It promotes social inclusion of particularly those who have been traditionally marginalized due to their functional limitations, by enhancing access to essential services and economic opportunities. While the World Bank currently has no policy regarding design criteria for any of its projects, universal design could be adopted by the World Bank because it is the design concept which is most cost-effective, flexible, and inclusive. It is cost-effective because universal design requires additional costs of approximately one percent if incorporated from the outset of a project. On the other hand, not incorporating universal design can incur significant human and opportunity costs due to inaccessibility. Also, universal design is flexible and can be adopted in each local case, as it is not a standard which is definitive and specific. It is meant to be universally acceptable and usable by the population that will use the specific built environment or products, and thus it is dependent on the local culture. This also indicates the inclusive nature of universal design, in that the designing process should be participatory and consultative.