Is there a legal time frame for all existing buildings, to which there is public access, to be made accessible to all persons with disabilities?


Accessibility should be based on widely known and respected sets of criteria. This ensures both that it meets the interest of all persons with disabilities, and that it conforms to the highest standards. And it refers not only to the built environment itself but also to signage. If there is legislation in place, what is the timeframe for all existing buildings to be accessible to all persons with disabilities? If there is no timeframe set by legislation, is it planned? And if so, when is it expected to enter into law – if at all? 

In detail

49% of respondents reported there are no legal time frames for existing buildings. In some EU countries however, governments have adopted 5 year time frames in average to make existing buildings accessible. Despite the legal time frames, there are several issues such as a lack of implementation strategies on non-conforming buildings that prevent existing buildings to be made accessible. These issues include:

  • Lack of awareness on guidelines for reconstructing buildings
  • Businesses’ buildings are less exposed to sanctions on non-conformance
  • The conflict with heritage influences accessibility measures for existing building guidelines, making these more flexible for heritage buildings
  • Authorities difficultly monitor buildings, and regulations become easily circumvented. NGOs and disability rights’ advocacy agencies often fill the gap by acting as watchdogs.