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04.12.2012 - Ausgabe: 6/2012

Community Sport and Leisure facilities for everyone - Requirements for complete accessibility.

By Dipl.-Ing. Helga Baasch


Along with school and club sport, informal leisure sport is also gaining in importance. Conventional sports facilities are however, not suitable for this leisure sport due to their limited usability. Also on the increase are trend sports such as tennis, golf, marksmanship and riding. A research report from the Institute for Urbanistics, “Investment shortcomings and investment requirements of communities from 2006 to 2020” (2008), shows an investment backlog for community sports facilities over the last years due to lack of funds. In the sport development report 2011/2012 from the German Federal Institute for Sport Science, one third of all sports facilities in Germany require renovation. In a survey of the regional sports facilities for the report, the degree of accessibility was also asked. Availability of handicapped accessible indoor and outdoor swimming pools was around 45% throughout Germany. 28% of sports halls in the East German new states were suitable for the disabled, in western regions of Germany, the figure was more than 50%. There is a great deal of catching up to do where community sports facilities are made barrier-free during necessary renovation work. The “Golden Plan” of the German Sport Association (Deutschen Sportbund) provides orientation for the creation and expansion of sport infrastructure in Germany. Development and planning of sport facilities are the basis for planning and construction of community sport infrastructure. Assuring complete accessibility as per is not DIN 18040, part 1, is not one of the main objectives during renovation and reshaping of sport and leisure centres. Here, politicians should be pressured to create the required improvement.

Subvention possibilities for renovation, reshaping and new construction
Support possibilities have been available since September 1, 2012 from the German Credit Institute for Reconstruction (Kreditinstitut für Wiederaufbau, KfW). With the title, “Barrier-free city” two programmes are intended to reduce barriers in the city. These also include sport and leisure centres for everyone. The Programme 233 provides support for communities while Programme 234 provides support for communal companies, social organisations and private companies in a public-private partnership. Measures which qualify for this support are barrier-reducing measures in community and social areas. Every concept which qualifies is supported by the KfW with a credit covering up to 100% of the investment costs. Support is also available for renovation work and new construction of facilities for team wheelchair sports. These require special measures to create the necessary ‘parking’ space and movement area on the training and competition courts as well as in the changing rooms and with sanitary equipment.

Construction measures and design
The German standard DIN 18040 “Barrier-free construction”, Part 1: “Public buildings” applies to planning, implementation and equipping of public buildings and their outdoors areas. It can also be applied as planning basis for community sport and leisure centres for everyone such as, e.g. for children, youngsters, senior citizens and the disabled. In some cases, for sport and leisure facilities for special user groups, other requirements, not included in the standard may be necessary. Measures which qualify for support from the KfW for sports fields, sports halls and swimming pools for example, are specifically: modification of toilets, showers and changing rooms including equipping them with safety systems, room to leave wheelchairs and other mobility aids, creating of tactile aids and modified entries and exist from swimming or therapy pools, requirements for wheelchair team sports, modification of spectator rooms in sports stadiums and roofed barrier-free parking facilities.

Requirements – Planning guide lines, buildings and outdoor areas:
These include parking, underground garages, main entrances, layout of training and club rooms for e.g. gymnastics, fitness rooms and other courts; fire prevention rescue paths, spectator seating and other spectator areas, lifts, stairs, entrance lobby, corridors, doorways, sports fields with small pitches (22 x 44 m) and/or large pitches (70 x 109 m). Parking spaces must be laid out for disabled users and spectators near the entrance. Correctly sized parking spaces measure 350cm x 500 cm. The required parking area for a minibus for disabled persons measures 350 cm x 750 cm.
The approach and entrance area must be easy to find and barrier-free. Approaches should not larger traverse gradient smaller than 2.5% and longitudinal gradient smaller than 3%. If the approaches have a larger gradient, ramps or lifts must be provided. Ramps must be safe for pedestrians and wheeled vehicles, i.e. they must have hand rails and spur posts at both sides. The maximum gradient may not be more than 6%. A transverse camber is not permissible.
Access areas such as footpaths and corridors must have a usable width of 150 cm and entrances 90 cm wide. Glass walls along these areas should be clearly visible with contrast markings.
Entrance doors to buildings should primarily open and close automatically.
Revolving and swinging doors are not barrier-free entrances and are not permissible as sole entrances.
The lobby area must be designed with many contrasts and sufficient lighting. It must be easy to find, especially for spectators with sight impairments, poor hearing, limited mobility, wheelchairs and small people with growth restrictions. At least one place at the reception or pay window (if present) must be low enough to be used by people sitting down. The reception must be equipped with an inductive hearing system. It must be ensured that it can be located by tactile means, e.g. floor indicators. The space in front of the pay window must measure at least 150cm x 150 cm. Equipment in the entrance area may not limit the usable width of the access areas and must be identifiable to blind people using a stick, as hindrances.
Stairs, moving stairs and conveyor belts with a gradient are not barrier-free vertical access ways. Stairs can be used by guests with a slight mobility, sight or hearing impairment if they have straight steps, risers and continual hand rails on both sides. The stair elements, e.g. the marking strips and the edge of each step must be easily recognisable. Sections of tactile paving are important to blind and sight impaired users at the start and end of a flight of stairs.
Waiting areas measuring 150 cm x 150 cm, which are not crossed by other access paths, must be planned in front of lifts. The minimum lift car floor area is 140 cm x 110 cm. Ideally, a vertical control panel, which can also be used by blind and sight-impaired passengers should be installed at a height of 85 cm. In addition, also required inside the car are a mirror, a continual hand rail and an acoustic information system.
Orientation information for users of the facilities as well as spectators must be easy to understand and also suitable for sight and hearing impaired users. Information may be visual, audible or tactile. The two-sense principle applies, i.e. the information provided must be able to be accessed by at least two of the three senses (hearing, seeing, touch). Access areas inside the building and outdoors must be equipped with a uniform information and guide system.
Practice and training areas must be designed in such a way that there is sufficient room in front of and behind the training equipment. Wheelchair users require a space measuring 150 x 150 cm to turn. These requirements also apply to the spectator areas.
Spectator areas, including grandstand seating must be suitable for the requirements of wheelchair users. At least 1% of the available seating must be completely accessible (barrier-free) for wheelchair users. An equal number of seats for accompanying persons must be available in the immediate vicinity of the barrier-free seats for by wheelchair users. In spectator areas with rows of seats, sufficient area must be kept clear for wheelchair users. Space for manoeuvring of at least 130 cm deep and at least 90 cm wide is required. The space in front and behind must be at least 150 cm deep. If access is from the side, areas of at least 150 cm deep and 90 cm wide are necessary. Areas to the side must be at least 90 cm wide. All seats must be equipped with an acoustic amplifying system to allow people with hearing disabilities equal participation in sporting events. Public announcements on display panels should support the amplification system.
Barrier-free sanitary facilities
These include toilets, showers and changing rooms should be equipped with tactile aids as well as room for changing wheelchairs and other mobility aids.
Sanitary rooms must be sufficiently large and with enough “parking “space.
A movement area of 150 cm x 150 cm must be ensured in sanitary rooms in order to allow wheelchair users to change direction. A 120-cm-wide access path must be provided in front of lockers.
Showers at floor level must be provided. The shower space may overlap.
A space of 150 x 150 cm must be provided in front of sanitary equipment used by wheelchair occupants. This area may overlap.
Wall strengthening devices must be used in order to enable installation of height-adjustable basins, toilets and other supporting grips and handles next to the sanitary fittings and near the showers.
A space of 40 x 70 cm must be planned in front of wall-mounted toilets which are intended for use by wheelchair occupants. On both sides of the toilet further manoeuvring room measuring 90 cm x 70 cm must be provided.
Taps should be equipped with temperature limiters or cut-outs. One-lever mixer tap batteries with a long lever are recommended.
Areas where wheelchairs can be left must have a free space of 180 cm x 150 cm to enable users to change wheelchair. A further space of 180 cm x 150 cm must be planned in front of these areas.
Swimming and therapy pools
These include pools for swimming and therapy as well as whirlpools, toilets, washing and showering areas including equipment and tactile aids as well as areas for leaving wheelchairs and other mobility aids.
Swimming pools (indoor pools 25 m lengths, 50 m lengths and non-swimmer pools, outdoor pools 25 m-lengths and non-swimmer pools, therapy pools and whirlpools) must be equipped with easy access devices such as slides of lifts as well as hand rails at the pool edges. Suitably sized access areas with a recommended width of at least 180 cm must be planned all around the pools.
Requirements for barrier-free design of toilet, washing, showers and changing rooms in indoor and outdoor swimming pools correspond to those of buildings and outdoor sport and leisure facilities (see the paragraph concerning barrier-free sanitary facilities).
The requirements for spectator areas correspond to those of buildings and outdoor facilities (see paragraph concerning buildings and outdoor areas).

Fire protection, soundproofing and telecommunication
With the cooperation of local fire authorities, requirements of users and spectators with physical and sensory impairments or disabilities must be taken into account in fire-protection concepts. Special measures for sound proofing are especially necessary in sanitary areas. Barrier-free design concepts must include communication devices such as door openers and bells, intercom systems, emergency call systems and telecommunication devices. Special requirements of users and spectators with sight and hearing impairments must also be taken into consideration.

Further information can be obtained from:

HyperJoint GmbH Berlin http://nullbarriere.de Author: Dipl.-Ing. Helga Baasch
Telephone: 030 52696250 Email: info@hyperjoint.com

Reference list
DIN 18040 Barrier-free construction”, Part 1: “Public buildings”, issue 2010 – 10
KfW Support programme: “Barrier-free city” especially the programmes 233 and 234
Reichenbach, M,/ Bracher, T./ Grabow, B. u.a.:

Investitionsrückstand und Investitionsbedarf der Kommunen – Ausmaß, Ursachen, Folgen, Strategien
Published by: Deutsches Institut für Urbanistik 2008
Edition Difu – Stadt Forschung Praxis Bd. 4
Breuer, Christoph u.a.:

Sport development report 2011/2012
Analysis of the situation of sport clubs in Germany, Section 3.3: Sports facilities
Published by: Bundesinstitut für Sportwissenschaften
June 27, 2012
Planung und Entwicklung von Sportstätten – Ein Leitfaden für die kommunale Praxis

Published by.: Ministerium für Bildung, Jugend und Sport des Landes Brandenburg
Stand: February 2012
Meyer-Buck, Hartmuth:

Barrierefreie Gestaltung von Spiel- und Sportanlagen
Zukunftsorientierte Sportstättenentwicklung, Volume (Bd.) 11
Published by: Landessportbund Hessen e.V.
Rau, Ulrike:

Added value for all (Mehrwert für alle)
Technical article presented at the conference “Swimming pools and wellness facilities” (Schwimmbäder und Wellnesseinrichtungen) published in Bäder/Bau public & hotels, 3/ 2009
Foto: Ango Reha-Technik Vertriebs GmbH, www.ango-reha.de

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