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The organizer of the 2025 World Exposition in Osaka plans to review its universal design guidelines, which set barrier-free standards for the venue of the expo, sources said Wednesday.

The Japan Association for the 2025 World Exposition released the guidelines in September, but opinions from people with disabilities had not been heard when the guidelines were drawn up, the sources said.

“There are problems with the process to compile the guidelines and their content,” a Japanese government source said.

The association will shortly set up a committee to review the guidelines, according to the sources.

The 2020 universal design action plan worked out by the government in 2017 said that the participation of people with disabilities in the policymaking stage was necessary.

Many people with disabilities took part in efforts to prepare venues for this summer’s Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. The standard capacity of elevators in the Olympic and Paralympic venues was set at 17 people or more, to secure enough space to accommodate multiple wheelchair users at one time.

But the standard elevator capacity shown in the guidelines for the Osaka Expo was 11 people or more, assuming only one concurrent wheelchair user.

As for wheelchair-accessible stands for spectators, the guidelines for the Osaka Expo do not call for their installation in at least two locations — unlike the guidelines for the Olympic and Paralympic venues.

“As the guidelines were created without the involvement of people with disabilities, user convenience was not taken into consideration in some items,” said Satoshi Sato, secretary-general of the Japan National Assembly of Disabled Peoples’ International.

Yoshihiko Kawauchi, a visiting researcher at Toyo University’s Institute of Human Sciences, said, “The meaning of universal design lies in the process of exchanging opinions among people concerned to bring hidden needs to light.

“If the standards go backward at a World Exposition — an exhibition intended to showcase the future — the significance of holding the event will be called into question,” he added.

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