Inclusive Access and the Role of Disabled Access Lifts

The topic of disabled access is finally beginning to get the recognition it deserves, as service providers across the country seek to ensure their premises are accessible to everybody. As well as helping to create an inclusive society, improved access can also make good economic sense as more people are free to enter a building, with nobody being excluded and all customers welcome.

Under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) service providers are encouraged to make reasonable adjustments to overcome barriers when it comes to access, resulting in those with physical disabilities, in particular, having more opportunity to get around their environment easily.

In some cases, such as in the example of a listed or historic building, it may not be possible to make adaptations, but in the majority of cases specialist disabled lifts can have a huge impact. This means that a disabled person should not come across discrimination when using everyday services such as banks, shops, restaurants and hairdressers.

There are many different types of disabled lifts available for those considering installing one. The main issues are whether to have wide doors, low buttons and flat or ramped floors. Ultimately, a disabled lift needs to tackle any obstacles which would prevent a service user from entering or moving around the space with ease. Each level that the lift reaches should be equally accessible.

With plenty of options available, from basic platform models to more complex wheelchair lifts, there are ways to ensure a building has a sturdy and practical solution, helping it meet the recommendations set out in the DDA. To narrow down the number of choices, it's important to consider the budget available, the amount of use the lift is likely to get and the long-term benefits to everyone involved.

As well as interior lifts, it's also possible to install disabled lifts on the outside of a building, although this is not very common due to increased security and health and safety risks.

Sometimes a specialist lift is not even necessary as a modern and well-designed passenger lift may instead be appropriate if it has been installed with a view to meeting the needs of everybody, regardless of whether they are able-bodied or disabled.

Because of the threat of fines, many companies are reluctant to ignore the guidelines put in place by the DDA, which means that access is less of a problem than in the past and fully functioning inclusive lifts are a more common sight than ever before.

Philip Loughran writes on a number of subjects from travel to law, automotive to education. For disabled lifts and accessibility improvement, he recommends The Platform Lift Company.

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