Disabled Access Day is a national annual initiative to raise awareness of the importance of inclusive access and encourage conversations between disabled people, businesses and venues.
Support #DisabledAccessDay by making sure your premises and services are accessible. You can do this by carrying out an access audit of your building, facilities and services to identify barriers and hazards to people with disabilities. This is good for business – and a legal requirement of the UK Equality Act 2010.
Carrying out an access audit doesn’t have to be an expensive, lengthy task. For example, put yourself in the wheelchair of a disabled person. Visualise visiting somewhere new: ‘How will I get inside? Are there steps? Will there be suitable toilet facilities? Will there be anyone that can help me? Is there adequate information on the website detailing any accessible features?’.
Accessibility is multi-dimensional and includes people not just with physical disabilities, but also visual, auditory and neuro-diverse issues.
You need to think about physical access, such as physical barriers, changes in level, signage, circulation, lighting, layout, auxiliary aids and staff training etc., as well as digital accessibility of your website and any online services you provide.
Here are some common barriers and hazards that we regularly see when we undertake access audits.
Can you see where the stairs start and end?
The busy carpet pattern and lack of nosing on the steps makes it difficult to distinguish the beginning and end of the step and could be a hazard for someone with visual impairments. The floor just looks like a sea of colour. Steps should have integral nosings, distinguishable on the riser and tread. Tactile warnings at the top and bottom of stairs are also a useful provision.
Additionally, handrails should be distinguishable from the background by colour or brightness.
What is wrong with this ramp?
Whilst ramps are essential for wheelchair users to overcome level changes and gain access to a building, they should be accompanied by steps where the gradient is steeper than 1:20, as individuals with mobility impairments may find it difficult to use such a ramp.
Additionally, handrails should be provided. The handrail should be easily distinguishable from its background for the benefit of people with visual impairments.
Where would you go in an emergency?
The fire exit is actually down the corridor to the right of the picture. The pictogram on the sign is misleading and can cause people, on hearing the fire alarm, to go into the men’s toilet thinking this is the fire exit.
There should also be provisions in place to ensure that individuals with hearing impairments are able to evacuate safely. Supplementing audible alarms with visual alarms is one possible solution.
Signs should give clear directions, information and instructions for the use of a building. People with neurological processing difficulties might have difficulty finding their way around spaces if they cannot respond to visual cues.
How would you call for help?
Emergency call systems in accessible toilets shoud be equipped with a pull cord fitted with two bangles, one set between 800-11000mm from the floor and the other at 100mm. All too often we find missing bangles, or the pull cord tied up out of the way. If someone fell they would not be able to reach the cord to call for help.
And there should be arrangements in place to provide assistance in the event of an emergency. Do staff know what to do when the alarm sounds? Can they open the door from the outside? Accessible toilets should be fitted with a lock that is openable from outside to allow entry in an emergency.
How we can help…
Our specialist consultants can assess your building or website against best practice standards, benchmarking accessibility for disabled people. This exercise is quicker and lower cost than you might expect and can lead to better access for all your staff and visitors, not only those with disabilities.
If you would like more information about our physical or digital accessibility services,please get in touch.