Accessibility Attitudes Make the Difference at BNP Paribas
We helped improve the accessibility of BNP Paribas's London headquarters, and raise disability awareness among staff.
BNP Paribas is one of the world’s best rated banks, and has over 200,000 employees working in over 80 different countries. With such a diverse group of employees, one of the bank’s key aims is to fight discrimination and increase the staff’s awareness of diversity issues.
System Concepts was asked to:
- assess the general accessibility of the site and its external approaches
- provide feedback on alternative designs of portable wheelchair ramp for use at one of the entrances
- train security staff within the building in disability awareness
- review existing emergency evacuation procedures for disabled people.
Employers’ duties under the Equality Act 2010 require them to make reasonable adjustments according to the specific needs of disabled employees. Such adjustments ought to allow the same standards of access for all employees regardless of ability. If properly done they will provide a better environment for all staff and visitors, which has added benefits. These include improved morale, social responsibility and the promotion of an inclusive culture towards disabled people.
Accessibility evaluations highlight common barriers
During our initial visit, we walked round the site and its external approaches and identified common barriers to accessibility. We discussed these with the on-site team and identified building management issues that could affect accessibility, such as the provision of car parking. We prepared an access statement setting out the existing access procedures and demonstrating BNP Paribas’ commitment to inclusive design.
Awareness training improves attitudes towards disabled people
Disability awareness training for front of house staff, such as security guards and receptionists, is important in any business. These staff are the most likely to interact with disabled people, so having the right attitude is crucial.
Using a self-propelled wheelchair and a customised set of goggles to simulate different types of visual impairments, we asked the staff try to access the building in different ways to allow them to experience the issues themselves.
We arranged four 90 minute training sessions to fit in with security staff shifts. The sessions were designed to by dynamic and interactive, using different entrances and means of access. Feedback during the sessions was encouraging, giving us the chance to explore more sensitive issues, such as the appropriateness of touching a wheelchair user’s chair. At the end of each session, we asked participants to describe their experiences. This allowed them to reflect on the experience and have some insight into the feelings experienced by disabled people.
Review of evacuation procedures
Health and safety is the most important consideration when considering means of escape. This includes accessibility, particularly where disabled people may find it difficult to leave a building in an emergency.
We reviewed the accessibility of existing means of escape and Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs) by inspecting the routes and referring to building plans. Issues we identified and provided advice on included the location of refuge areas and the provision of EVAC chairs where necessary.
By considering the needs of disabled people, we were able to suggest improvements to the management procedures that might otherwise have been missed. BNP Paribas’ positive attitude towards access issues ensured that our suggestions were given proper consideration within their health and safety framework.
What does the client say?
I was very impressed with your professionalism and knowledge on accessibility. The training you delivered was fun and interactive with excellent feedback received by Security staff who felt that it increased their confidence in assisting those with disabilities. You are always willing to go the extra mile and have been very helpful with general advice on other issues.
Sharon Rodrigues, Health and Safety Business Partner
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