July 20, 2024

When running a business, it’s easy to obsess over things that typically drive more revenue – the choice and positioning of shop stock, the quality of our services, or the location of our stores and offices, for instance. But one thing that every business in the UK needs to account for, but that many ignore, is the need for accessibility.

In the UK, 14.6 million people have a disability. 8% of these use wheelchairs according to CSR Europe statistics cited by the University of St Andrews, equating to 1.2 million. Under the Equality Act 2010, businesses have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to remove barriers to access that disabled people might experience.

Failure to do so means these 1.2 million-plus people will be unable to do the things many of us take for granted, like going to the shops, accessing services, and so forth. To make sure you’re meeting your responsibilities, here’s how to make your business wheelchair accessible.

Clearly marked disabled parking

If your premises feature a car park or use a car park provided by a third party, it’s important to provide parking that can be accessed by disabled people. These should be located closer to the entrance than other spaces, clearly marked so disabled people know which parking spaces are reserved for them and have extra space either side of the space to accommodate wheelchairs, and both ramps and lifts attached to vehicles.

A ramp leading up to the main entrance

To allow wheelchair users to easily access your premises, be sure to build a ramp that allows access to the building. This needs to be large enough to accommodate a wheelchair, and at a low enough gradient to allow easy wheelchair users to ascend and descend the ramp safely under their own physical power.

To achieve this, consider using wide, smooth paving slabs that let you create a level surface. And consider getting a specialised ramp builder who will be able to advise on the best gradient and how to create it.

Broad and clear corridors

Inside the building make sure pathways are wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs. If they are too thin (such as in a historical property), then consider other routes or move the services used by wheelchair users to more accessible parts of the building.

Also make sure to keep these areas clear from clutter – lots of objects, stacks of papers, and other bits and bobs can pose a hazard to wheelchair users, as well as blocking their path.

Wheelchair-accessible toilets

If your customers spend more than half an hour in your premises, make sure to install a wheelchair-accessible toilet, placed in an easily accessible area. Consider the essentials: grab rails, low mirrors, low sinks, an emergency cord, and so forth.

 

Investing in wheelchair accessibility will show disabled customers, their friends, and their family that you are serious about making disabled people’s lives easier. How have you helped disabled groups better access your services? Let us know in the comments section below.