There are thought to be around 13m disabled people living in the UK, according to Scope, and whilst we have come a very long way in terms of disabled access over the last few years, many disabled people still find it difficult to go about daily tasks which abled people would have no trouble with due to lack of access.
According to the Equality Act, formerly known as DDA, business premises and public areas such as leisure and shopping centres are legally required to provide a means of safe access for those with disabilities, and to ensure they are not restricted from going about their business.
There are three different requirements laid out in the act:
- Provisions, criteria or practices – including company policies.
- Physical features, such as the layout of and access to shops.
- Provision of auxiliary aids – including providing information in an accessible format such as braille, large print or email.
Some common ways of ensuring disabled people are not discriminated against are:
- Comprehensive disability training for employees
- The inclusion of disabled ramps in the design of the building, or portable ramps such as Portaramps for older buildings
- Hearing aid loops
One main area of the Act, however, is the requirement for handrail which disabled people can safely use to access the building.
Handrails are a vital part of ensuring safe access for disabled people, as well as the elderly, and the Equality Act lays out several guidelines for the design and installation of handrail.
According to the Equality Act, and the Building Regulations, to be DDA compliant, disabled access handrail should:
- Have a tube diameter of between 40mm and 45mm
- Have no sharp edges
- Have no snag points and be continuously smooth
- Be visually contrasting with the surrounding environment for those with poor eyesight
Alongside these requirements, the Equality Act also requires external handrail be a certain temperature, and never ‘cold to the touch’, even in winter conditions.
This requirement ensures that excessively cold handrail does not prevent people with sensitivities to the cold from using the handrail, or from letting go whilst using it and injuring themselves.
There are exceptions to this, however, such as when the handrail needs to be especially resistant to vandalism or very low maintenance is necessary. For these applications, metal with very low thermal conductivity could be a solution.
At Safesite, we strongly believe in access for all, which is why we offer the Kee Access® range of DDA compliant handrails.
Designed to be entirely compliant to the requirements of the Equality Act, by using Kee Access® you can be safe in the knowledge that you are ensuring those with disabilities are not kept from entering your premises safely.
Kee Access® handrail provides an uninterrupted smooth run, and can be powder coated to any RAL colour to meet the ‘not cold to the touch’ requirements of the Equality Act, allowing access for all to any type of public building.
What’s more, Kee Access® is made from modular fittings, meaning sections can be easily replaced if damaged, and the system will last for many years even in harsh conditions.
Handrail is best implemented at the design stage, but Kee Access® can be easily retrofitted to older handrail systems or installed on older building easily, and with minimal interruption to the business or site.
For more information on Kee Access®, or any of our safe access solutions, call us on 01293 529977 or use our online contact form.