Monday, July 18, 2011

Thursday, December 03, 2009

FIFA Madness

Just in case there is anyone left in SA still not aware that something big is happening next year…

This week is a mad week for me, and my company, on our various 2010 projects, especially the ones in Cape Town. We have various inspections, and also the draw tomorrow at the CTICC.

The whole FIFA project is incredibly complex. I am sure (and hope) that the events tomorrow pass off without incident. Anyone in Cape Town, should join in the party on Long Street (part of the top section is closed, and a huge screen is being positioned so people can follow the draw from there.

Presently the FIFA officials are meeting in Robben Island.

There will be all sorts of speeches by all manner of people & politicians. All these speeches will be extolling the positives of the event, and assuring (and, to an extent, proving) that South Africa is ready for the event.

What they will not show is the sweat behind the scenes… We will be ready; and I am sure that the event will be a HUGE positive to the country. Already, we have proved many, many doubters around the World, and within South Africa wrong. The various new stadia are all (just about!) built. Without a doubt, they are World class stadia. Indeed many of them set new standards in terms of design.

But there is also still much to be done!! These are interesting projects, as on paper, we have many clients; for Cape Town stadium we have the following clients:

  • the City of Cape Town, as they own the Stadium;

  • South Africa tax payers, as much of the funding came out of their pockets, at both national level & provincial;

  • FIFA - they 'own' the event, and all the rights (and make the most money!); they have an overlay, in terms of sponsorships, VIP's, security, etc.

  • The prospective tenants of the Stadium (which, if it is to make sense, and money, in the future, will have to include Rugby, both national - Test matches, and regional - Western Province will have to move here from Newlands), and the soccer teams that will be based from here.

  • SAIL Stade de France, who will be the operators into the future of the Stadium

Sometimes these different 'clients' have different, and even opposing requirements…

So I as I am a bear of little brain, I have made it clear & simple to me & my own team. Our clients are the people with disabilities who will use, work, and play in this stadium for the World Cup, and hopefully for many other events into the future. If they come, and they can use the facility in comfort, and safely, then we have done our little bit into this HUGE project…

I wish we had more time now, to appreciate the privilege of being able to work on these projects. Hopefully these Stadia will be still standing, and providing entertainment (and jobs!,) to a huge number of people, long after I have shuffled off...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Greenpoint Stadium & Precinct

I was having a chat with a few people today, and it is clear that there is very little information available about some of the new developments connected to 2010. I shall try to post some more info on some of the projects that we are involved with.

For a taste, this diagram below, gives the design for the precinct around Greenpoint stadium, it is not just a stadium, but there is so much more that that.

Apartheid by design: Disabled people in PMB

Great Article in today's copy of the Witness, also available online:

ONCE upon a time in South Africa, buildings had separate entrances and facilities for people of different races. The practice was outlawed as discriminatory along with the policy that created it: apartheid.

That discredited philosophy was replaced with a Constitution hailed for its commitment to human rights that is also enshrined in the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act of 2000. Despite this, another kind of apartheid still operates: discrimination against people with disabilities. Inaccessible environments have been called “apartheid by design”.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

FIFA 2010

We have all been very busy here at Disability Solutions. This has meant that we have not been updating our websites and blogs as often as we perhaps should have been doing. Apologies for that.

Some of the bigger projects have been connected with the FIFA 2010 Football world cup, due to start here shortly (have a look at the countdown timer on this page!!)

So I offer some photos by way of apology!!

Sunday, August 03, 2008


Is your house accessible? Probably not. A recent survey in the UK found that 98% of all new, privately built dwellings are inaccessible (to wheelchair users). My anecdotal (therefore untrustworthy) experience, would suggest that that figure would be similar here in SA. What about your place of work? Or you local restaurant / café? What about your place of worship? Cinema? Doctor's surgery? Post Office?

So let's assume that your house is inaccessible. So what? No one in your house is disabled, and you certainly would not entertain the idea of inviting me around!!! Why go to the expense of making it accessible when it will never have a use?

Great question. Well, here comes the answer. A recent piece of research in the US (yes, I know all these are overseas figures, and things are different here…but please bear with me), has some fascinating findings. They predict that by 2050 (due to aging populations etc.) that 21% of all households will have at least one resident with a “long-lasting, severe mobility impairment” . Therefore (as people move houses) there is a 60% chance that any house will have to accommodate a long term disabled occupant, during the lifetime of the dwelling. However the figures are even more compelling when both short term impairments (such as injuries) & visitors are taken into account - they estimate that the figure rises to 93%.

The interesting point is that the trend towards accessible housing (so called lifetime housing) is being driven by the insurance industry in terms of cost saving. It is much more cost effective to design a house from the outset, to be accessible, rather than have to bolt on later. The sort of figures that are generally accepted is that to design any facility to be fully accessible from the outset adds 0.2% to the capital costs. Later adaptations can be as high as 10%.

It is not expected that every part of every house would be fully accessible (although that would be nice!), rather there are 3 main issues:

  1. At least one level entrance into the dwelling (can be front, back or side).
  2. All doors on the main floor, all doorways wide enough (>800mm) for easy access.
  3. At least an accessible half (but preferably full) bathroom accessible on the main floor.

The bottom line, is that it makes financial sense to design, and build our houses (and all other built environments, by extension) to be fully accessible to all. Any of us may benefit from this accessibility one day…indeed, one could suggest that we all hope that we live long enough that we will benefit.

The research paper can be read here.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Case study: Brighton & Hove City Council - Talking Bus Stops for the blind and visually impaired (linked to Real Time Bus Information signs) :: Public

This is a very interesting piece of news. A city in the UK has won a technology award for the provision of talking bus stops. I would suggest that people read the full article. They do say that this can be replicated in other areas, and I hope that will happen.

Case study: Brighton & Hove City Council - Talking Bus Stops for the blind and visually impaired (linked to Real Time Bus Information signs) :: :: e-Government & public sector IT news job vacancies:: "A multi-disciplinary working group was been formed, including councillors, officers, system designers, users, local politicians and consultants. A partnership was formed with the Royal National Institute for Blind (RNIB) to evolve a RNIB React system from providing orientation messages to include Real Time Information. The interface to provide a text to speech link with the Siemens VDO Passenger Information Displays was created by working with SFX Technologies, whilst Atkins Consultants helped with project management. The resulting system can be replicated in other areas and interest has already been shown from London local authorities."

Monday, April 14, 2008

E Pahad on rights of people with disabilities during Imbizo Week

We have heard these sort of promises from different politicians before. But I would encourage public promises like this as it does raise awareness. So full marks to the Minister for this promise. My follow up question would be how? We do need to get more people with disabilities into employment, but in order to do that there is much ground work that needs to be done. It is not as simple as just going out to employ these people. Often many PWD have had no work and limited educational experience. There are often barriers for them to access the work place, both physical, and also attitudinal (other peoples' perceptions). What we don't want to witness is the usual stereotyping and merely employing blind telephonists which we see so often...

E Pahad on rights of people with disabilities during Imbizo Week: "Minister in the Office of the Presidency Essop Pahad has reiterated government's commitment to improving the living conditions of the disabled.

Speaking in Jane Furse, Limpopo during an Imbizo held as part of the government's Imbizo Week programme, he said government was doing all possible to meet its 2010 deadline of employing a minimum of two percent public servants with disabilities. Minister Pahad was responding to a question raised during the Imbizo about unfair treatment and less opportunities for the disabled in the workforce.

'It is the policy of this government that by 2010 we have within the public service at least two percent of our total staff being those with disabilities. This is a commitment we are working hard to achieve,' he said."