Purpose: Physical accessibility is one of the fundamental rights of wheelchair users in order to ensure their integration into society. After Bangladesh ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on November 30, 2007, there has been a paradigm shift in the government’s approach to ensure the welfare and rights of persons with disabilities through legislative and policy actions. This study assesses how accommodative the public buildings are for wheelchair users in Khulna, Bangladesh.
Method: All the public buildings in Khulna city - including government offices, public schools, colleges and universities, hospitals, libraries, post offices and court buildings - were visited to assess the presence and suitability of facilities for wheelchair users, such as accessible parking, ramps, elevators, doors, and essential interior facilities like water closets and drinking-water fountains. Bangladesh has no specific accessibility guidelines document, but accessibility requirements have been included in the Bangladesh National Building Code (BNBC) 2008. The study made its assessment using an abridged form of the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) and BNBC 2008.
Results: Only 6.7% (5) of the 75 public buildings were found suitable for wheelchair users. There is scope for modifications to be made in 28% (21) of the buildings which are currently unsuitable for wheelchair users.
Conclusion: The study revealed that public buildings are, in general, not very accommodative of wheelchair users. There is a need for modifications in infrastructure to ensure inclusive development of these individuals.