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Poor accessibility for people with functional impairments

People with functional impairments have reduced access to public buildings, public transport and outdoor areas. ‘This has major consequences for the users and for their ability to participate in important arenas in society,' says Auditor General Jørgen Kosmo.
Published 5/7/2009 1:00 PM

Document 3:10 (2008-2009) The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation of opportunities for persons with functional impairments to participate in society was submitted to the Norwegian parliament, the Storting on 7 May.

The investigation shows that accessibility remains limited in important areas of society, despite the fact that improved accessibility and participation for people with functional impairments have long been important political goals. This applies to people with visual and hearing impairments as well as the mobility impaired. None of Statsbygg’s properties are fully universally designed, which in practice means that the buildings are supposed to be adapted as well as possible to everyone’s needs.

There are also obstacles to accessibility in many Norwegian Labour and Welfare Service (NAV) offices. For example, 38 per cent of the offices have no parking facilities for the disabled, 86 per cent lack guiding lines for the visually impaired in public areas, and 67 per cent lack induction loops for people with hearing aids.

Many people with disabilities find it difficult to use buses and trains. This is mainly due to differences in height between the means of transport and the stop or platform, and to lack of information. The investigation shows that few municipalities have taken accessibility and universal design into account in their planning, despite the fact that it has been a national goal for nearly ten years. ‘There is still a long way to go before accessibility is adequate,’ says Mr Kosmo.

Generally, the Ministries lack information about status, development and goal achievement relating to accessibility. ‘To improve results, we need more information about the situation in the area and the effects of the measures that have been taken,’ says Mr Kosmo.

The Ministry of Children and Equality states that the new Anti-discrimination and Accessibility Act, a new action plan for universal design and improved accessibility, and the development of national indicators will be important instruments for achieving a more universally designed and accessible society in the future.

The deferral of public access to documents prepared by or for the Office of the Auditor General in connection with Doc. no 3:10 (2008-2009), cf. the Act relating to the Office of the Auditor General section 18 second paragraph, is hereby set aside.

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