For many of us, access is not something that we need to think about very often; however, for disabled people, particularly those who are wheelchair users, it is something that has to be considered almost every day. Meeting friends for lunch – can you find a restaurant that’s accessible? Travelling somewhere – is your local railway station accessible? Moving home – what alterations will your new house need?
Whilst disabled access is considered more today than it has been in the past, many wheelchair users still face access issues on a daily basis, even in situations where the necessary allowances should be obvious. For example, as reported by BBC News, organisers of a recent election in Northern Ireland neglected to provide a ramp up to the podium; newly elected councillor and wheelchair user Johnny McCarthy joked that he obviously hadn’t been expected to win, as he gave his speech from the side of the stage instead.
At home, wheelchair users have more control over their environment. Homeowners and tenants can apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant from the government, which can help them to afford the alterations they need to make – whether that’s installing ramps and lifts, widening doors or altering heating and lighting controls. If you are intending to live in your property for at least 5 years, and the council are happy that the work is necessary and appropriate, you could get up to £30,000 (in England) towards the work, either paid to you or direct to your contractor. However, it is important to note that you must make your application and wait for approval before work can begin.
Outside the home, public transport continues to be an issue for many disabled people – even where railway stations do have lifts for disabled access, in too many cases they have only one lift, so if it is out of order disabled passengers are forced to make last-minute rearrangements. Where stations offer no disabled access, their only options are to travel further to the nearest accessible station, often in an expensive taxi, and engage in campaigns to try and get their station approved for an upgrade.
Commercial properties are increasingly aware of the need to offer equal access to their customers, and here at Axess 2 we are often called upon to install access lifts into shops, restaurants and other properties. If your favourite local retailer or eaterie doesn’t offer suitable access, then writing to them to let them know that it’s an issue may encourage them to invest in an upgrade.
Axess 2 offer a wide range of lifts which are suitable for residential and commercial properties, so for more information please contact us online or call us on 01200 405 005.