According to a World Health Organisation (WHO) report, it’s estimated that 15% of the global population are living with disabilities – that’s more than 1 billion individuals!
Government statistics show that there are 14.1 million disabled people in the UK alone, and 1 in 5 of us will be affected by disability at some point in our lives.
Despite these figures being so high, many businesses fail to provide step-free access, which makes it impossible for wheelchair users to enter without assistance.
Let’s take a closer look at what you can do to make your space wheelchair-friendly.
- Educate your staff – one of the easiest, yet most effective, things you can do is teach your employees (and any other representatives of your business) to provide visitors with a warm welcome.
Not only will this encourage more people to visit but it’ll also boost your reputation, as customers will know that they will be treated with the utmost respect from the moment they enter.
- Widen the doorways – often, standard door frames aren’t wide enough for wheelchairs, but you can easily widen the doorway by removing the doors and frames altogether.
You could change the direction of the door opening to provide more space on either side, or replace hinge doors with sliding doors. It may cost you slightly more, but you can relax safe in the knowledge that wheelchair users can access all of your facilities with ease!
- Provide accessible toilet facilities – are your toilets and changing facilities on the top floor of your building? Whilst you might have escalators and elevators to take customers from the ground floor to the top, it’s much more practical to have such facilities on lower levels.
Grab rails and low sinks make a fantastic addition to toilets. There also needs to be step-less entry and enough room for wheelchair users to manoeuvre safely.
- Opt for hardwood, vinyl or tiles – although carpets and rugs come in a plethora of stunning colours, patterns and fabrics, they can make it incredibly difficult for wheelchairs to move around your business.
Swapping carpets for wood flooring is a great idea and will enable everyone to access all areas with ease. Another thing worth noting about wooden floors is that they’re super simple to clean and maintain – requiring just a quick sweep to pick up dirt and debris – which makes the cleaner’s job much easier.
- Update the doorknobs – doorknobs and handles are usually at the perfect height for people when standing up. When you’re confined to a wheelchair, though, they can be somewhat harder to reach.
The best way to save disabled visitors the frustration of not being able to open the door is to lower the handles down. Alternatively, you could fit a push lever that is straightforward to use or, better still, install automatic doors.
- Install mobility aids – if there are steps leading up to your business or inside the building, it’s worth installing a ramp, so visitors with wheelchairs and prams can still gain access and take advantage of the products and services you have to offer.
An excellent alternative to a wheelchair ramp would be a platform lift (or wheelchair lift). These specially designed lifts have a more compact footprint, which is great if space is already at a premium, and they can be used indoors and out.
Could your business benefit from a platform lift?
Level Access Lifts is a UK leading provider of platform lifts.
We have gained vast experience from working with clients across the length and breadth of the country, installing our fantastic lifting platforms for all manner of businesses – including:
- Production studios/music venues – BBC and Royal Albert Hall
- Banks and building societies – HSBC, TSB and Lloyds Bank
- Supermarkets – Morrisons
- Retail stores – Next, New Look, H&M and Monsoon
- Restaurants – Starbucks Coffee, Pret-a-Manger and Las Iguanas
We’re confident we can help you make your business more wheelchair friendly, too!