Help available to improve accessibility

EASE OF ACCESS Even a makeshift phone shop in a township in South Africa has good accessibility for all who visit
EASE OF ACCESS Even a makeshift phone shop in a township in South Africa has good accessibility for all who visit
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Secretary, Havant Area Disability Access Group, Andy Bundy believes all service providers should consider just how accessible they are

As both laws are about the removal of discrimination, they have little to be compliant with, especially not toilets and ramps.

Instead, a service provider should consider accessibility as a very simple question. That question will vary, but simply put: ‘Can every possible customer likely to visit my premises, receive the service that I am offering?’

The underlying concept is whether or not the service is being discriminatory, intentionally or otherwise.

The question is open because of the sheer range of services out there.

Some providers will have premises which tick all the boxes, some shops will be tiny, have narrow doorways and not be allowed to install ramps, temporary or otherwise.

In both cases, the deciding factor is in how you provide your service.

Consider that the first example may have untrained staff, and processes which do not work for disabled people, whereas the corner shop offers home deliveries, service at the doorstep, and its staff are all trained and obliged to offer the best service possible.

In both of our examples above, the answer lies as much in the how, as in the what and where.

My favourite example is lovely Dorchester, at the heart of Dorset. Last time I visited, some years ago, it had an ‘old’ high street, and a modern precinct.

In the former, every shop had narrow doors, and high steps – for wheelchair access a complete disaster. However, somebody had worked with those service providers, and each shop had a sign, strangely similar, apologising for the difficulty in getting inside, but informing all customers that they could ring the adjacent doorbell for speedy and discrete service.

Accepting that ramps and wider doorways would never work, they adapted their services to overcome the physical barriers.

You may wonder about the photo. This is a mobile phone repair shop in Joe Slovo Park, Cape Town, South Africa, in one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the area, yet this shop inside a shipping container has still considered all of their customers.

So, your question is: ‘Where can I get help to overcome my issues?’

You can employ an expensive, bespoke consultant or email your local access group via info@hadag.org.uk.