July 25, 2013

False Impressions About Disabled Access

All building should be accessible by everyone hoping to gain entry; yet sadly this is not the case. Many managers and building owners seem to overlook the importance of disability access. The owners of the business or the building need to take responsibility for spotting any problems such as obstacles that could stop a person from gaining access and these issues need to be addressed promptly to avoid problems with the law.

Sadly there are still many misconceptions when it comes to disabled access so I am going to share my knowledge to ensure that you are aware of the importance of access audits and improving access in general.

Only People that Use Wheelchairs Need Disabled Access Facilities

People in wheelchairs are not the only people who have disabilities, there are many more to consider such as those with hearing impairments or visual impairments. Some individuals may not be fully stable on their feet while others may not be able to cope with walking up staircases unaided or be able to open heavy doors. Not everyone with a disability looks like they do and not everyone uses a wheelchair so you need to think above and beyond this preconception.

Adding a ramp leading to your front entrance might be a good place to start but that doesn’t mean you have eradicated every problem. You must think about adding signs, producing marketing and informational materials in different formats, improving WC facilities, improving the flooring and clearing obstacles inside and outside the building. An access audit will give you a full report and action plan, ensuring that all disabilities are considered and that your premises is in compliance with the Equality Act and Building Regulations currently in place.

My customers are not disabled

This is the wrong attitude to have and it can lead you into troubled waters. You may not have any disabled customers at present but you do not know that there may have been some who have tried to access your business before. Are you really happy to turn away paying customers simply by not allowing them to enter your premises? Does it make good business sense to immediately turn away customers from a certain demographic?

You need to open your doors to as many customers as possible and provide access for everyone, including anyone with a disability. An access audit will help you to spot any problems that are stopping individuals from entering your building and provide you with ways of improving the layout.

Taking the Right Step Forward

As a business or building manager you need to forget these misconceptions and learn your duty in the eyes of the law and for the sake of your customers and employees. You will need to get in touch with an expert that is aware of the legal requirements and the changes that are required to give the best experience for all of the people entering your building. A consultant that provides access audits will be the best person to use going forward. The right consultant will audit your premises and consider your business and your customers and the employees. They will produce a report and an action plan that will be easy to understand and will allow you to start making the required changes immediately.

Additionally the consultant will use their findings to converse with your builders, architects and designers to ensure that the changes are in compliance with the Equality Act 2010 and the current standards as set out in the Building Regulations. With this service you will be able to meet the requirements of everyone that comes to your business regardless of any impairment they may have.

Aki Hashimoto is a writer who believes that every business should concentrate on making their business as assessable as possible to everyone. You can learn where to improve your company’s accessibility by examining the results of access audits carried out by professionals.

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