The Disability Discrimination Act
Access to public buildings is something that the able bodied take for granted. For the wheelchair user it can be difficult. Normal step access can often represent a barrier to a wheelchair user.
Under the Disability Discrimination Act it is now unlawful for service providers to discriminate against disabled people and so public or commercial buildings must be accessible to all.
There are two significant pieces of legislation regarding disabled access:
Part M of the Building Regulations:
Part M is intended to support the DDA by providing extra guidance to building specifiers. The aim is to ensure that new buildings are designed to be accessible. It sets out how changes of level should be catered for, and specifies technology to be. Included now is guidance on the type of lift to be used in specific instances.
Recently, Part M has been amended to specify the dimensions for platform lifts and how they should be installed. This now enables architects to specify the correct lift and its best location for the wheelchair user.
The Disability Discrimination Act:
The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) was introduced in 1996. Its objective is to ensure that the less able are treated in a way that is equal to their able bodied counterparts. Under the DDA, it is unlawful for any service provider to restrict the opportunity for the less able to enjoy the services in question.
Owners and operators of public buildings must ensure that the structure of the building does not prevent the less able from being able to access the building’s public areas. As an example, a ramp or platform lift must be made available as an alternative to steps to access a building.
As of October 2004, all service providers whose building contains a feature that prevents equal access to all must either:
- Removing the feature
- Alter it so to remove this effect, or
- Provide a reasonable alternative method of making the service in question available to a disabled person.
For platform lifts for use with wheelchairs, please see Platform Lifts page.