Important legal notice
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Disability - Ensuring that disabilities are no handicap
“Providing a better understanding of what is meant by ‘reasonable access’ to the built environment, as it applies to disabled and handicapped people.”

The problem

Over recent years, European countries and the EU have become sensitive to the needs of disabled and handicapped people. Legislation exists to ensure that people with mobility problems have reasonable access to and use of the built environment. But how does one define ‘reasonable access’ – and who decides what it actually is? This subjectivity has allowed a grey area to develop. There remain many examples where suitable provision of access to and use of buildings by disabled people is denied under the pretext of reasonableness. This means legislation can still allow for discrimination under certain circumstances.

ReasonableAccess  Defining ‘reasonable access’ for disabled people


The ReasonableAccess project will provide policy-makers with a better understanding of issues relating to disabled access to the built environment.

Project tasks include:

  • Comparing national legislation and EU directives relating to disabled access and use of buildings in order to understand the different interpretations of what is meant by reasonable access
  • Examining the way in which a sample of different countries put their disabled access legislation into practice
  • Establishing a European consensus on what is reasonable access

Contribution to policy development:

  • Project findings will help to inform EU policy on disability discrimination.
  • By improving the definition of reasonable access, the project will ensure that the concept is used more precisely by policy-makers, regulatory bodies and enforcement agencies.
  • The results could help to harmonise anti-discrimination legislation and policies across EU Member States.

Project deliverables

  • Review of relevant legislation and assessment of enforcing agencies’ discretionary powers – month 5
  • Review of existing research into disability and the physical environment – month 8
  • Pilot workshop report into competing value systems – month 11
  • Final project report including good practice recommendations – month 18


  • Project website – from month 1
  • Writing articles for journals, and publishing conference papers and press releases – ongoing
  • Hold a seminar on project findings – towards end of project
  • Develop interactive CD-Rom of all publicly available reports – month 18

Technical information

Project acronym: ReasonableAccess
Project’s official full title: Good Practice for Providing Reasonable Access to the Physical Built Environment for the Disabled
Research priority: 2.4. Quality of life issues relating to handicapped/disabled people (including equal access facilities)
Specific webpage:
Proposal/contract no: SSPS-CT-2004-006623
Start date: 01/01/2005
Kick off meeting: 10-11 March 2005
Completion date: 30/09/2006
European Commission scientific officer: Véronique Bernard,

Name: University of Leeds
Abbreviated name:
Address: School of Civil Engineering
Leeds, LS2 9JT
Country: United Kingdom
Fax: +44 113 343 2243


Name: University of Malta
Country: Malta