Here we return to an old theme because progress and improvement are so slow.
How is it possible that some buildings - especially important public buildings - are still so inaccessible in 2013?
This short video looks at the Planning and Environment HQ at South Hill which is where the minimum standards for new or altered buildings are laid down and administered. Yet this building achieves the worst standard of any government public building in Jersey.
It is simply scandalous of course.
But it is not just that disabled people find it impossible or at the very least, difficult to get past the front door but the facilities within are totally inadequate too. Thus, there is not even a hearing loop on the reception desk....and we must remember that disability can strike at the employees in this building just as much as the general public who might want to consult a planner or other building expert. There is no accessible toilet in this building for the use of employees or visitors - so the whole "employment of disabled persons" policy of the States of Jersey is reduced to a farce by such omissions.
We spoke with the chief Building Inspector but he would not be recorded which is a great pity - especially since he kept referring us to "others" with supposed responsibility for access.
We have asked the Minister for an interview and invited any architects to come forward too to show how Jersey is facing up to the challenges of an ageing population and so many injured people surviving accidents and illnesses with "disabilities".
Good design is not just about the way a building "looks"
It is no longer enough to accept only the minimum standards as laid down for new buildings. Architects and designers should be exceeding the basic and striving for much higher aspirations in ALL classes of buildings. Important buildings and public places need to be updated and modernised so that discrimination against those with disbilities or other differences is constantly challenged.
In a few years we are promised that anti-discrimination laws will apply in Jersey so that it will become illegal to provide services to the public from buildings that fail to achieve universal standards. This building like so many others will be fit only for demolition.
So here we are again with another Jersey Architecture Week being organised to look at the best of design in buildings - but who is really setting the pace on functional design in this Island? Will any architect or designer respond to this invitation and show the public the high standards of universal accessibility that can or should be achieved in the 21st century?