What do you think of when you think of accessibility? The width of doors? Disabled parking spaces? Steps at entrances? For a lot of Irish people, accessibility is not something they consider as they go about their day to day lives. But for the 13% of people in Ireland with a disability, it is an issue that is always at the forefront of their mind. It doesn’t just come down to the presence of steps or the width of your hallways, and accessibility can mean different things to different people. An individual with a sensory impairment has different specific needs to someone with a physical disability.
Here we are going to take a look at some of the biggest issues facing the disabled population of Ireland. And how you can remove these barriers, to ensure they have full access to your business and services.
Common Accessibility Problems at Entrances
Steps at the entrance.
- This one may seem obvious, but if the only access to your building is up a flight of steps, you are excluding people with physical disabilities from your business. The easiest solution to this barrier is the installation of an access ramp.
Unusable ramp at the entrance.
- When placing a ramp or identifying the access potential of an existing ramp, it is important to review the gradient – is the ramp too steep for someone in a self-propelled wheelchair to comfortably reach the top?
- Is the ramp too long and if so is there appropriate level rest areas?
- Are there handrails on both sides of the ramp?
- Is there edge protection?
- Is your door wide enough to allow mobility devices?
- If you use double doors at the entrance, is each side wide enough to allow mobility devices?
- Is the threshold at the door less than half an inch high?
Common Accessibility Problems with Bathrooms
No room to manoeuvre.
- Is there enough room to manoeuvre inside and outside the door for people with wheelchair access to gain entry and exit?
- If the bathroom is located at the end of a corridor it is important that there is enough room for a wheelchair user to be able to manoeuvre out of the way of the door, otherwise their wheelchair may block the door from opening.
Flush handle height
- Is the flush handle located on the correct side of the toilet for easy accessibility?
Dispenser and dryer height
- Are dispensers too high for wheelchair users to reach comfortably? This includes toilet paper dispensers, paper towel dispensers, soap dispensers, hand dryers etc.
- Is there a secure grab rail available on both sides of the toilet?
- Is the sink an appropriate height with knee room underneath?
Hot water pipes
- Are the hot water pipes beneath the sink safely covered to prevent injury to wheelchair user’s legs?
Common Accessibility Problems with Signage
- Are your signs at the right height for mobility device users? The optimum height for both people in wheelchairs and people standing is between 1400 and 1600mm.
- Are your signs optimized for individuals with sensory disabilities?
- For example, talking signs for the hearing impaired, large print, braille and raised lettering for the visually impaired?
- Have you included pictograms for individuals with intellectual disabilities?
- Does your business use flashing signage that can trigger migraine sufferers and those with photosensitive seizure disorders?
Location of signage
- Is the signage mounted on the wall beside doors rather than on them, so it can be read even when the door is open?
Lack of appropriate signage
- Is there accessible signage for all emergency exits and services?
- Do you have optimized cautionary signage?
Common Parking Accessibility Problems
Number of spaces
- Do you have enough disabled parking spots? For example, if you have 200 parking spaces, are at least four of them assigned to disabled parking?
- Do you have van accessible disability parking with enough room on either side and behind for safe loading and unloading?
- Are your standard disabled parking spaces at least 8 feet wide?
- Is your van access parking at least 11 feet wide?
- Are access lanes at least 5 feet wide?
- Is the disabled parking bay safely connected to the shortest route to the entrance of the building?
- Is this route well-lit at all times?
Signage and road markings.
- Are your disabled parking spaces clearly signposted as reserved for the exclusive use of disability parking permit holders?
- Are the access aisles painted in a crosshatch pattern to deter other car users from parking on them?
- Is the international symbol of disability clearly displayed on spaces?
- Are the van access spots clearly signposted as such?
Maintenance and patrolling.
- Are the assigned spaces well maintained and weather-proof?
- Do you ensure they are maintained during difficult weather such as snow and ice to ensure the safety of users?
- Do you have a patrol and reporting system in place to prevent the abuse of designated spots by non-permit holders?
These are just some of the common accessibility barriers that can prevent individuals with disabilities from participating in your service. The best way to ensure that your building is accessible is with a Building Audit and by having disabled users test your services and report back any issues. If you are interested in surveying your business for potential barriers to the large disabled customer base in Ireland, you can contact Adaptable Solutions here.