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The following recommendations were developed in consultation with disabled people, carers, staff and local voluntary organisations. They are intended to provide you with a general guideline to meeting the needs of disabled people accessing general public services taking into account the Disability Discrimination Act Part III Section 21 (October 2004).
- external signage (clear, bold colour contrasts and symbols)
- good outside lighting, around car parks, paths and entrances
- designated car parking spaces for disabled drivers or passengers with markings and driver head height signs, as per Part M
- a dropped kerb to level well maintained paths with clear signage, with tactile area where appropriate
- a ramped or level entrance with handrails wherever necessary and doorbell (max 1200mm) if assistance is required
- an automatic door opening device at the principal main entrance, (where ever suitable)
- external door with a level threshold and a minimum clear opening width of 800mm, with easy to grip handles
- internal signage (bold clear colour contrasts and symbols)
- wheelchair user friendly (well maintained) dropped entrance doormat, not coconut matting
- floor surfaces (well maintained) non reflective, tactile and/or colour difference on changes in level or areas, not deep pile or deep underlay,
- good lighting levels throughout the building, *note flickering florescent lights can prove hazardous for people with epilepsy
- sensible use of décor, use bold contrasts of colour to highlight doors, light switches, handrails, stairs, steps, notice boards, telephones, etc
- an accessible reception desk/counter with low level area, open aspect above or sliding glass windows not fixed or louvered glass slats
- induction loop systems, should be available at all reception points, training and meeting rooms, a hand held system should be made available to use within the building
- patient call and fire alarms should include audio and visual communication
- choice of seating with and without armrests and a variety of heights (waiting areas and consultation rooms)
- internal doors offering a minimum clear opening width of 750mm heavy door return springs should avoided, with easy to grip handles
- a unisex wheelchair accessible toilet with all fittings as per Part M, plus including a privacy curtain (shower curtain fitted across the door to be tied back when not required and can be pulled across an open door to allow a carer to enter exit the room as necessary)
- wherever necessary corridor doors should have magnetic (alarm activated) holding systems and low level glass panels for clear visibility
- facilities at suitable heights, including, telephone - 1200mm, work surfaces with foot space - maximum height 800mm, notice boards etc maximum height 2100mm
- hand rails on both sides of steep ramps, stairs and steps, with handrails that continue 300mm past the steps
- lift to all floors with audio and braille instruction, if not available then all patient services must be available on the ground floor in a room that has facilities that are required, e.g., sound proofing for audiology testing etc
- an accessible level or ramped ground floor fire exit with clear signage and an evacuation procedure, and safe refuge points for all upper floors including signage
- regular maintenance of all facilities is vital to providing good services
- facilities management should include consideration of domestic arrangements, for example, avoiding the use of industrial cleaners during office or service opening times, or blocking access routes with laundry trolleys, etc,
- building management checklist should include, car parking, routes, doors, horizontal circulation, vertical circulation, toilets, signs, maps, induction loop systems, alarms, security, surfaces, lighting, etc.
Building regulations - Remember, designing to Part M of The Building Regulations Act 1991 or British Standards 8300 does not mean that the premises will meet the expectations of all disabled people, and may fall short of meeting all of the requirements of Part III Section 21 DDA 1995.
Remember getting it right the first time will save time, energy and money. Consultation is crucial; involving disabled people in the planning and design stages is the way forward. Warrington Disability Forum and Warrington Disability Information Services members will be happy to assist, contact Terry Wadsworth on 01925 240064 for more details.
Other issues to consider - Information that is available in a range of formats, including Braille, Large print, Moon, Audiocassette, Pictorial, etc can assist with clearer communications for patients. Access to British Sign Language interpreters is expected whenever reasonably possible (as per the DDA October 99). Warrington Disability Information Services can organise this work to be undertaken locally. Telephone 01925 240852.
Finally - A 1999 NHS Executive report found that negative staff attitudes was the largest barrier facing disabled people in accessing health care services, it recommended that all staff should attend Disability Awareness and Equality training. Dave Thompson MBE, Head of Equality and Diversity on 01925 664064. or email firstname.lastname@example.org