A review of the contents of the various databases on accessibility for persons with disabilities shows that the data strongly differ between the databases. The biggest problem with this kind of dispersed information gathering is that the facilities are assessed according to non-uniform criteria, with different assessment approaches and different ways of presenting the assessment results. As such, there are, currently, a number of different assessment criteria and data collection methods that are, in the majority of cases, difficult or impossible to compare. This results in inconsistent, sometimes even conflicting, information on the various aspects of accessibility for people with disabilities. It has also been found that specific facilities have been assessed several times, applying a different approach and different criteria. In such cases, the scope and accuracy of the assessment of a particular facility have, inevitably, been found to be different. We have also observed that the majority of the examined databases contain information on accessibility primarily for persons with impaired movement while it is rare to find a database that presents data also for the blind and partially sighted, and the deaf and hard of hearing.
The described situation thus calls for the need to introduce measures that will help to eliminate the identified shortcomings. In order to avoid the existence of numerous, dispersed, incomplete and sometimes conflicting information sources on accessibility for persons with disabilities, it is urgently necessary to harmonize and integrate all information on accessibility into a central database, that will cover the entire territory of the Republic of Slovenia.
The proposed research will be conducted within four main work packages, which will systematically follow each other in a logical and hierarchical order. The first two packages will focus on the establishment of a unified central database on accessibility for people with disabilities. In the third work package, we will carry out a detailed analysis of the existing regulations. Together with the information gathered for the establishment of the central database, the analysis of existing regulations will provide us with the basis for the preparation of an expert basis for the revision of spatial planning standards for guaranteeing access barrier-free access. The fourth work package is the preparation of the final research report and the dissemination the results.
Work package 1: Detailed analysis of the current situation regarding the dispersed databases on accessibility for the disabled
To find out:
- which new or additional databases on accessibility of facilities (other than those we already know) exist across the Slovenian territory,
- for which towns have the databases been prepared,
- what the content of each individual database is,
- how the database was designed (model, the attributes it contains etc.),
- for which types of disabilities were the individual databases prepared,
- the criteria with which the accessibility of facilities was assessed,
- how the data was gathered (is there a meta data description),
- who can add data to the database or how is the database complemented,
- who uses the database or for whom it is intended,
- how the database is used,
- what information from the database is publicly available and in what way,
- what are the possibilities of merging individual databases into a common database on accessibility, that is operated by the Urban Planning Institute of the Republic of Slovenia (UIRS accessibility portal)
The review of the status of existing dispersed databases on accessibility for people with disabilities will be performed in a standard research manner, namely:
- we will carry out a detailed review of available online resources that publish accessibility information for people with disabilities,
- we will call, by telephone, all the municipalities from which we have not yet received a response regarding the possible existence of such databases for their municipality,
- we will establish contacts with the authors of the various databases with the aim to obtain their consent to the transfer of their data to a common central database on the accessibility of facilities in public use,
- we will ask individual authors to provide us with information on the data collection methods and criteria they have used for constructing their database.
Work package 2: Merging the current dispersed databases into a common, central database
To create a unified database, which will merge the current dispersed and unharmonized information on accessibility for the disabled.
- Securing the consent of individual authors to include information from their databases in the central database. To this end, we will set up a working group consisting of representatives of different authors who have created similar databases in the past. With this measure we want to strengthen the mutual cooperation between us and other actors in this field and, in this way, to create an environment of mutual trust which will make it easier to obtain the consent of the various authors.
- Comparing the contents of the records of individual databases and establishing the mutual compatibility or possibility for transfer to the UIRS base.
- Developing the criteria for merging databases.
- Designing the methodology for transferring data to the common database.
- Preparation of modules for upgrading the UIRS base: refinement and improvement of the manner of presentation of information on the accessibility website "dostopnost.javniobjekti.si", in order to facilitate an easier coordination and integration of data by different authors. New functionality would be added to improve the site's performance.
- Development of a method of verifying the accuracy of information and the compliance of different databases with the applicable regulations governing accessibility for persons with disabilities, - establishing a methodology for updating the central database with new information on accessibility for persons with disabilities, - determining the manner of managing the central database.
Work package 3: Preparation of expert documentation for the amendment of the regulations governing architectural and design standards as well as the spatial planning standards for ensuring barrier-free access.
To lay the foundations for the necessary upgrading of the existing regulations or for adopting new regulations that will ensure a more serious and effective removal of existing built-environment and communication barriers, or prevent new ones from being created. An important objective in this area is to adopt and enforce the principle of universal design as a basis for achieving full free access.
- Preparation and presentation of the information gathered during the implementation of the first two work packages, which must be taken into account when formulating new regulations or setting new standards,
- Conducting a detailed analysis of existing regulations (laws, rules, standards) governing the area of accessibility of persons with disabilities. In this analysis we will determine, in particular, what the weaknesses or shortcomings of current regulations are.
- Drafting recommendations for the expert documentation as a basis for drafting regulations that will help to achieve greater efficiency in ensuring barrier-free access.
Work package 4: Writing the final research report and dissemination of research results.