Disabled Access Day: How to Make Your Sites Accessible and Safe for Disabled Users

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  • Calendar Icon 13th March 2023
  • Tags Icon Company, Services, Access

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Disabled Access Day takes place every two years. At its core, it’s about raising awareness on how we can provide everybody with equal access to public venues. On March 16th, disabled people are encouraged to visit somewhere they’ve never gone to before – such as a new museum, the cinema, or a restaurant they’ve been wanting to try out.

17.8% of the population in England and Wales are living with a disability, according to a 2021 study by the ONS. That’s 10.4 million people! As business owners, we should strive to make our establishments as inclusive as possible. Read on to find out how you can make your premises accessible and safe for disabled users.

Disabilities to Consider

Not all disabilities are visible, so it’s important to take all disabilities into account when improving the accessibility of your building. Examples of disabilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Learning – some people struggle with certain types of communication or information. Others, such as those on the autism spectrum, may feel overstimulated if there is a lot of noise or visual clutter on your premises.
  • Physical – people who use wheelchairs, and those with limited mobility for other reasons. When visiting your premises, some obstacles include: no ramps for wheelchairs, issues with the toilets (inaccessible, not large enough or lacking grab bars), and no lifts in the building.
  • Visual and auditory – some individuals have difficulties with their hearing or sight. On your premises, they may struggle if there are not enough audio or visual cues for important information.

How to Make Your Site Safer

Implementing safety measures is a large part of making your premises a welcoming place for disabled people.

Improve your lighting

It’s often difficult for those with visual impairments to get around buildings. You can help make this easier for them by ensuring that your premises are well-lit, protecting them from preventable accidents.

Provide grab bars

Grab bars are easy to install and don’t require any major structural changes to your building, but they’re an effective way to assist people with limited mobility. Install grab bars in showers, near toilets, and anywhere else they may be needed.

Invest in Evacuation Equipment

If there is ever an emergency on your premises, anybody with limited mobility or another disability is at an immediate disadvantage. Specialist equipment such as evacuation chairs, sheets and mattresses are designed to transport disabled people safely and efficiently out of a building in an emergency.

Evacuation sheets or slings are made of strong and durable materials that can support the weight of a person and have handles or straps to allow the safe movement of an individual from one location to another. They are particularly useful in situations where horizontal evacuation is being adopted, as they can be used on flat surfaces or even on gentle slopes. Similarly, evacuation mats are thicker and more cushioned versions of evacuation sheets, making them a more comfortable option for the person being evacuated.

If your building has many flights of stairs, you may need evacuation chairs instead. These have a sturdy frame, secure straps and wheels for horizontal evacuation. The chairs have sets of tracks which are deployed for use on staircases and are designed to smoothly descend each step, ensuring your end users can get out of the premises safely. that allow trained individuals to easily move the person down flights of stairs.

By providing a safe and reliable means of escape, evacuation equipment ensures that people with disabilities can always feel comfortable on your premises.

How to Make Your Site More Accessible

There are many ways to improve the accessibility of your site for disabled users. Some relate to those with physical disabilities, while others address those with visual or learning disabilities.

Ramps

Without ramps, many buildings are completely inaccessible for wheelchair users and others with mobility issues. If you are installing a ramp on your property, make sure it’s wide enough for a wheelchair. Ramps aren’t just used by wheelchair users, so you should also ensure that it has a handrail and a non-slip surface.

Lifts

An essential addition to any multi-storey building for those who have mobility impairments. Keep your lifts clearly signposted and in good working order so they are easy to use.

Disabled Parking Bays

According to the British Standards Institution, you need to provide one disabled parking bay for each disabled employee, plus disabled parking bays for 5% of the total number of people you have visiting your premises at any given time. These bays must be as close to your building as possible to make it easier for those with mobility issues to get around. You must regularly review whether demand for disabled parking spaces increases over time.

Accessible Bathrooms

If a building has no accessible bathroom, many disabled people would be unable to visit. An important part of ensuring your bathroom is accessible is maximising the space available to the person. There needs to be plenty of space for a wheelchair to turn around. Don’t use your accessible bathroom as a storage space or fill it with large decorations – a disabled person might need that space to manoeuvre. Another thing to consider is the height of the amenities in the bathroom. Sinks, hand soap, hand dryers and paper towels must all be within reaching distance of someone in a wheelchair. Finally, make sure your accessible bathroom has a red alarm cord that has been left to hang freely and not tied up or tucked away. This is a vital part of ensuring your disabled bathroom is safe for its users – if someone slips and falls, they may not be able to get back up again without assistance.

Clear Signage

Even if you have implemented many features to make your building more accessible, you must add signage, or many people won’t know how to find them – or whether they even exist. If you have a separate entrance that is optimised for people with disabilities, make sure it is clearly marked.

There are many ways you can ensure that your signs themselves are more accessible. For example, increasing the font size on both directional signs and informational displays will make them easier to read for people with visual impairments. Make sure that your signs are clear and that there is nothing obstructing their view. Don’t forget to consider the location and height of your signs too – wheelchair users will struggle to read signs that are positioned too high, and visually impaired people need to be able to reach any tactile or braille signs on your premises.

Take care of assistance dogs

Providing a water bowl for any guide dogs on your premises is a quick and easy way to improve the inclusivity of your premises. People who rely on their assistance dogs may feel pressured to go home earlier than they would like to if there is no way for them to get their dog a drink, especially on hot days.

Conclusion

We believe that everyone deserves to feel safe and secure in their environment, regardless of their mobility status. That’s why Evacu8 offers a range of products and services that are specifically designed to make buildings more accessible and safer for people with disabilities.

Our products include evacuation chairs and other evacuation aids such as sheets, slings, and mattresses. They are designed to ensure that people with limited mobility can evacuate buildings quickly and safely in an emergency. Our products are easy to use, reliable, and can make a huge difference in ensuring that everyone on your premises stays safe.

At Evacu8, we understand that creating a safe environment for people with disabilities isn’t just a matter of products and equipment – it requires a comprehensive approach that considers the unique needs of each individual and the specific challenges of each location. That’s why we offer a full range of support services, including evacuation chair training, site assessments, and evacuation chair maintenance contracts – each customisable for your specific needs.

With Evacu8, you can be confident that you’re getting the highest quality products and services, backed by our commitment to customer satisfaction and our extensive experience in the industry. Contact us today to find out how we can help you create a safer and more accessible environment for everyone.

Evacuating People Safety Since 2005 IOSH Safecontractor Certified CPD Certified