Since his outspoken editorial on building regulations for the disabled (aj 22.07.99), Paul Finch has opened up various discussions. I think there are a lot of valid points to be made about what classifies a disabled person, flying futuristic wheelchairs (courtesy of Terry Farrell), double circulation, underused facilities, independence, etc. Why can't we do it in the classroom instead of the 'playground' after school?
Correct legislation is a huge factor in this dilemma but I believe that some of the blame can be shifted onto architectural education. Why can't this money be spent on educating the architects of the future about accessibility instead of investing it in upsetting those whom it's too late to teach or who don't want to learn.
I may be a student, but I like to believe that I have some experience in architectural as well as virtual reality. In order to be fashionable, I might say, 'some of my best friends are disabled' and that I have made it a personal objective to understand their situation since I officially started my architectural training five years ago but, I resent the possibility that this might result in me becoming labelled as an architect specialising in accessibility issues rather than an architect who incorporates design for some disabled minorities into his buildings as much as any other issue. (Hopefully one day without even realising that, I'm doing it.)
Stephen McCusker, Belfast