Accessibility includes the entire measures that must be taken in the built environment and urban services so that the entire individuals can access and use the entire public services without the need of anyone, and in short, participate in social life. Taking accessibility measures on sidewalks, pedestrian crossings, parks, children's playgrounds, in the entire buildings that are open to public use and served by the public and transportation services is a necessity of great importance not only for the disabled, but also for the elderly, pregnant women, children, people with strollers, very tall or very short stature, that is, everyone who has limited mobility.
Accessibility appeals to the entire individuals and provides an opportunity for universal design formation to come together. Universal design is an integrated design approach that makes it possible for the entire products and environments to be used by everyone, regardless of age, skill or situation. It is the whole of studies designed, planned and implemented to enable the entire individuals to live independently and participate fully in every stage of life.
The physical structures offered as a service to the society should be provided according to the physiological conditions. For example, the streets, pavements, parks and gardens, institution buildings and urban areas should be created according to the physiological conditions of the whole society, that is, the universal design should be completely created.
In order to make the physical environment accessible and livable, it is obligatory to comply with the relevant accessibility standards of the Turkish Standards Institute (TSE), taking into account the accessibility monitoring and inspection forms in projects, zoning plans and urban, social and technical infrastructure areas. Arrangements that are not made in accordance with the standards shall result in loss of time and financial resources, as it shall require a re-construction later.
It should be our mission to design and build egalitarian, safe, accessible and sustainable cities that support the quality of life for people. Cities should be designed with a focus on people and thinking about society. Designs should be for everyone. Accessibility is the most natural right of every person who shares the city.
In the 9th article of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was accepted by the United Nations in 2006 and signed by our country in 2007, when it was opened for signature, the expression “They shall take appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities can live independently and participate effectively in the entire areas of life, and to ensure that persons with disabilities have access to information and communication facilities, including physical environment, transportation, information and communication technologies and systems, on an equal basis with others, and to other public facilities and services in both rural and urban areas.” takes place.
Today, accessibility is a basic need not only for people with disabilities, but also for the entire people. The fact that the structures built, and the equipment used in them are accessible to the entire individuals is an important source of awareness that adds value both to the environment we live in and to us as human beings, beyond legal obligations.
Elevators are among the priority instruments for the disabled and people with limited mobility in ensuring accessibility. Since elevators are the main transportation routes in buildings, they complete one of the biggest parts of people's accessibility. Therefore, making easily accessible and usable elevators makes significant contributions to the removal of obstacles in the buildings served by elevators. Whether it is planned at the design stage or added later, the elevator is one of the most important requirements for anyone who has difficulty climbing stairs.
There are two basic criteria that can be used as a guide to the accessibility of elevators in the world and determine the design details. The first of these is the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) criteria used in North America and a part of the Middle East, and the second is the European EN 81-70 standard. In terms of applicability, the European standard is a more flexible and accepted standard. These guides generally consist of articles that regulate the design of the elevator car and the answering of calls so that people with different disabilities can use it. However, facilitating access does not cover the entire disability categories, but rather includes measures to increase accessibility against physical disabilities.
In our country, EN 81-70 standard is widely used for accessibility. Along with this standard, many regulations contain conditions on the subject. These can be listed as "Accessibility Monitoring and Inspection Regulation" published by the Ministry of Family and Social Policies, Planned Areas Type Zoning Regulation, Elevator Periodic Control Regulation.
In order to facilitate the journeys of users, the entire articles in the relevant regulations and standards introduce dimensional provisions such as providing dimensional requirements for cabin button locations, cabin indicators, cabin handrail, cabin dimensions, cabin door width, floor call buttons and indicators as well as providing design, audio, visual, force reducing requirements.
The problems experienced in providing accessibility related to elevators are divided into two as design-related and operational. Among the design issues are primarily obstacles in the elevator access path. In addition, deficiencies such as not being directed to the elevators, providing access with steps between the building entrance and the elevator, insufficient width of the elevator door and insufficient cabin dimensions, absence of an audio floor information announcement system, unsuitable control panel heights, absence of Braille and pyramid reliefs on the control panels are among the design problems.
Failure to operate the elevators with the excuse of maintenance and operating costs, being broken, and not being able to use them in case of power outage because there is no generator are among the operational problems.
It is important for accessibility that the elevators are arranged with the necessary equipment for users from different disability groups and that they are operated regularly. However, multi-storey buildings that do not have a ramp or elevator at the entrance make it impossible for the disabled to enter the building without assistance and to access the upper floors. Platform or stair lifts provide solutions to such problems.
Platform elevators, which are low-cost alternatives for low movement distances and situations where sensitive use is not required, are systems designed in special sizes and with special equipment for the use of the disabled in general. Low speed (< 0.15 m/sec) is configured by the user with a continuously pressed button movement, hydraulic, scissor or screw movement.
Stair lifts provide convenience for people with limited mobility. A stairlift is a system that moves a chair or platform on a rail along a ladder. Stair lifts are used on straight and turning stairs, with a maximum speed of 0.15 m/s and a movement with a continuously pressed button.