Being aware of the needs of those with disabilities has not always gone in line with making provisions for them to be able to enjoy equality when trying to access buildings. Undoubtedly, this is largely due to the costs of building adaptations that some business aim to avoid. However, there is also the fact that there are many misconceptions surrounding this case. Businesses fail to see disability access as a high priority, therefore these changes are never made to the building. They are also unaware of the law and how it affects them.
However, this is changing. It is now more commonly known that there are around ten million individuals in the UK with disabilities, and their rights to disability access cannot be ignored. As well as this, the responsibilities laid out in the Disability Discrimination Act are being enforced.
Legislation on disability access to buildings
Though the Disability Discrimination Act was first introduced in 1995, various features have only just come into force in the last few years. This just goes to show what a sensitive and complex topic this is, as some of the more obvious and much needed discriminatory practices were to be addressed more quickly.
This staged process included how organisations and individuals were required to deal with building and disability access. Changes firstly focused on public places and then on locations that are less obvious which could present obstacles for those with disabilities. However, even after the legislation came fully into effect, there were still many companies who were behind on the legislation’s mandates.
Changes to disability access need to remain compliant
When discussing disability access, what sort of rulings came about from the Disability Discrimination Act? Many scenarios were covered, such as heavy doors which opened outwards, making it impossible for those in wheelchairs to enter a building, or having stairs with no lift as an alternative. Even steps with no ramp options were obvious problems.
The more in-depth aspects included things such as a requirement to understand the Light Reflective Value (LRV) of colour schemes. LRV is a way to identify steps, doorways, walkways and other physical features for those who are visually impaired. The legislation also covers things such as poor lighting and inadequate signage, something which could disadvantage or disorientate someone with a disability.
Business obligations to follow in the Disability Discrimination Act
In some cases, it can just come down to something as simple as adjusting the way in which you conduct your business, ensuring all customers with disabilities have equal opportunities. Other legal obligations require you make changes to your building and remove obstacles or include aids that can make it easy for people to navigate around and work within the environment. Things such as investing in automatic doors to the building for everyone to get in at ease.
Even though the legislation has been in place for many years, it is believed that there are still pockets of non-compliance. Not only does this risk hefty fines but can also cause a loss of faith and trust by customers, staff and the public. To reduce reluctance and costs, the government has created tax allowances and tax relief to aspects of the more needed changes for disability access.
So, what can your business do for better disability access?
Aside from the mentioned risks, compliances to disability access show your business to be both caring and ethical. You also open the door to a pool of talent who may wish to work with you, as well as bringing in more customers who have maybe struggled with a lack of disability access in the past.
If you are unsure whether your building offers disability access to everyone who may need it, there are ways to know more. Working with SRL provides affordable and necessary solutions to ensure your building offers necessary disability access, so get in touch today to discuss implementing automatic doors into your business.