PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to assess the accessibility to public buildings for wheelchair users in Al Ain, the fourth largest city of the United Arab Emirates.
METHOD: Data were collected at 17 buildings, randomly chosen using the local telephone book as source. The instrument used was a survey form covering eight accessibility areas: parking, ramps, entrances, accessible routes, toilets, elevators, public telephones and water fountains. The survey comprized 79 items based on the Americans with Disabilities Act Guidelines (ADAAG).
RESULTS: The highest overall compliance scored was 73%, and the lowest was 13%. The highest compliant accessibility area was accessible route with a mean of 76%, and the lowest was parking with a mean of 19%. None of the buildings recorded 100% compliance with the items in the survey form.
CONCLUSIONS: A wheelchair user would have encountered many and difficult architectural barriers if he had visited any of the public sites surveyed in the city of Al Ain. the results of this study show that much has actually been accomplished in the field of wheelchair accessibility of public buildings in the UAE city of Al Ain, despite the absence of legislation. This study could be seen as an example of what happens when the modern urban environment evolves in a non regulated context, lacking legislation protecting and ensuring the accessibility for the wheelchair bound member of society.
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