One of the biggest modern building considerations is the area of disabled access. All new buildings have to comply to certain access fundamentals. However, it always makes good business sense to go above and beyond to help those with difficulty. Everything from improving points of access to upper levels ought to be considered. This should all take place at the planning and architectural stages.
Any retrospective changes can be very difficult to implement. Any project manager will appreciate this! With that in mind, it’s important to consider every variable before the build starts. The reason this aspect of building is so important is due to recent discoveries on the high street.
Independent surveys have shown that shops and restaurants do not cater well for the disabled. Lack of consideration for changing rooms access comes out on top for failings. However, the survey also discovered that 40% of restaurants don’t have a disabled access toilet. Something this simple needs to be considered at the start of the project. Here are the main things to bear in mind.
Access – First of all, the architect must account for disabled access at all entry points. This should include lowered curbs and widened doors at the main entrances. This should also be taken into consideration at the fire exits.
Access to upper floors – Ramps should be installed to reach mezzanine levels. Lifts should be put in place within every build too. Everything must be considered. Many disabled shoppers have reported being unable to gain access to the upper levels. Escalators are inappropriate and often the only alternative are stairs.
Visual impairment aids – Many projects fail to incorporate this simple element. It should be included during the interior design aspect of a build. When installing any signs and notices, always ensure that the braille equivalent is used. It’s a simple and easy incorporation and should always be considered.
Accessible toilets. – As we mentioned before, 40% of restaurants do not have adequate disabled access. When planning the toilet facilities for the build, ensure there is space for a larger disabled toilet. They also require specialist equipment such as grab rails and alarms. Make sure these are included in any budgets and specifications.
Hearing loops – This is something that will be installed later in the process. However, it should be an essential part of the infrastructure when the time comes. It will typically be installed at the same time as phone and internet lines. Ensure that it is considered and factored in. It amplifies the voice of the teller when a hearing aid is set to the correct function. Again, it’s a simple but effective consideration.
Staff training – Finally, there’s the issue of staff training. Although this isn’t a building consideration, it’s worth being aware of the issues. Nearly 70% of shop and restaurant staff have no training in how to help disabled customers.
Failing to take these issues into account is simply unacceptable in modern building. Before you start your next project, ensure that you consider each of the points on this list. They are small changes, but they will make a big difference to many people’s lives.