On Accessibility and Expo 2020: “Expo 2020 Dubai to Be Accessible For People of All Abilities” by Christele Harrouk

Expo Dubai 2020 will showcase new levels of accessibility, ensuring that the topic is thought through at the very first stages of design and that the approach is anchored in the project and the program. With the help of the UK based company Direct Access consultancy, specialized in the incorporation of accessibility into building designs, the expo will try to put in place solutions for regularly faced issues.

Steve Dering, head of engagement in Dubai at Direct Access, explains that “Expo 2020 has considered where accessibility can be included in line with the Dubai Universal Design Code […] for established premises, organizations are meant to submit plans to Dubai Municipality by 2020, setting out how they plan to retrofit to comply. We also advise on tender specification and assist with reviewing submitted tenders for accessibility compliance,[…] During the fit-out stages, we can specify products and ensure that they are installed correctly – for example, I am deaf and have a hearing aid, so I can check that a hearing enhancement system is correctly installed, which a machine cannot do. We often sit in on architectural meetings where drawings are discussed and make contributions that way, including directly with clients.”

The process of work will interlink Direct Access with architectural firms, sharing information using different BIM systems, where the consultants will review plans and drawings at each stage, advise according to the Dubai Universal Code and international standards – similar to what is used for London Olympics 2012 - and finalize the design with the team, before moving on to the next phases. They will oversee both the conceptual and execution part of the expo site.