[MEXT] “Guidelines for Promoting Barrier-Free School Facilities” revised

On December 25th, 2020, MEXT published a report "Toward the acceleration of barrier-free school facilities - Aiming to build an educational environment where everyone can learn and grow with peace of mind-" and announced the revision of the "Guidelines for Promoting Barrier-Free School Facilities".

On May 20th 2020, the “Act on Promotion of Smooth Movement of Elderly People, Persons with Disabilities, etc. (Barrier-Free Act)” was revised. Under this revision, elementary and junior high schools have been added to "specially specified buildings", which are considered highly public and used by many unspecified persons. In response to this amendment, the Ministry has set up the "Council of Research Collaborators on Promotion of Barrier-Free School Facilities (Chairman: Gihei Takahashi, Professor Emeritus of Toyo University)" and been considering measures to promote barrier-free school facilities. The results of discussions by the Council were reflected in the report. Based on this report, the Guidelines for Promoting Barrier-Free School Facilities have been revised. The report’s targets for making school facilities barrier-free include a recommendation to install accessible restrooms in about 95% of all elementary and junior high school and to install elevators in all schools where students requiring special assistance are enrolled (equivalent to 40 % of all schools). The main revisions to the guidelines are as follows.

Chapter 1 Basic concepts regarding the promotion of barrier-free school facilities

1 Perspectives in making school facilities barrier-free

  • Clarification of the importance of constructing a philosophy of an inclusive education system and enriching educational environments for children with disabilities.
  • Clarification that the government will further promote barrier-free school facilities, including existing facilities, based on the revision of the Barrier-Free Law.
  • Clarification of the importance of barrier-free environments, not only inside the school building and indoor playgrounds, but also on other routes within the school premises.
  • Clarification of the need to take into consideration the smooth interaction between and collaborative learning by students with disabilities and students without disabilities in school design.
  • Clarification that the required disaster prevention functions also need to be incorporated into the planning of school buildings.

2 Promotion of barrier-free environments in existing school facilities

  • Clarification of the efficacy of considering the opinions of persons with disabilities, the elderly, pregnant women, etc. when formulating a barrier-free development plan.
  • When formulating a barrier-free development plan, planners and executors must accurately understand the barriers hindering the safe and smooth use of facilities. Therefore, it is necessary to investigate the status of high needs students/faculty members. Whether or not the school is designated as a local evacuation shelter should be also considered. In addition to these points, it is also important to create priorities in the plan and set up maintenance targets according to these priorities.
  • Taking advantage of opportunities for general school renovation is also efficient and effective in promoting barrier-free school facilities.

Chapter 2: Points to be considered when planning and designing barrier-free school facilities

The layout of classrooms, indoor passages which allow for easy movement, stairs that can be used smoothly, Western-style toilets, toilets for wheelchair users, user friendly doorways, etc.

For further information, please visit the following link (Japanese Only):https://www.mext.go.jp/b_menu/shingi/chousa/shisetu/059/mext_00001.html