The DDA stipulates that from 1st Oct 2004 a disabled person cannot be
restricted from gaining access to a premises to obtain goods or services.
This includes people who use wheelchairs, blind and partially sighted
people, deaf people etc
This obviously has an impact on the installation of new and existing
Access Control Systems
Access to services
What are reasonable adjustments?
It is important that service providers who have not already done so take
reasonable steps to make their services accessible. Failure to do so could
lead to loss of reputation or even litigation.
Since 1 October 1999 service providers have had to make 'reasonable
adjustments' for disabled people, such as providing extra help or making
changes to the way you deliver services.
- making adjustments to the premises such as improving access routes and
ensuring that they are free of clutter, or redecorating part of your
premises to provide better contrast to someone with a visual impairment.
- providing appropriate or additional training for staff who may come
into contact with customers with disabilities, to assist them in the
provision of services to and for people with different types of
- equipment changes, such as acquiring or using modified equipment, e.g.
a telephone with text display for use by a deaf customers.
- making service literature and instructions more accessible e.g.
providing a Braille version for blind customers.
Since 1 October 2004 the duties additionally say that service providers
should make reasonable adjustments to "physical features".
What is a "physical feature"?
Here is a long but not exhaustive list: steps, stairways, kerbs, exterior
surfaces and paving, parking areas, building entrances and exits (including
emergency escape routes), internal and external doors, gates, toilet and
washing facilities, public facilities (such as telephones, counters or
service desks), lighting and ventilation, lifts and escalators.
It is important to realise these features aren't just buildings or indoor
facilities. They could include seating in the street or a pub garden, stiles
and paths in a country park, fixed signs in a shop or a leisure facility.
Your duty is not just to put a ramp at the front entrance of your
building (although that may be a useful thing to do) but to look at all
aspects of your services and consider what changes you can make to the full
range of physical features. You may plan a number of changes as part of a
refurbishment or a continuing access improvement program. Something which
might not be considered a reasonable adjustment now could well be considered
reasonable in future. Access should not be considered once and then
The law gives you a choice. You can remove the physical feature, alter
it, find a way of avoiding it or provide the service another way. The DRC
strongly recommends that you consider removing the physical feature or
altering it. This is often the safest option because it is the most likely
to make the service accessible. It means that disabled people receive the
services in the same way as other customers. This is called an 'inclusive'
Removing or altering physical features does not always have to be
expensive. For example, the way that display units are set out in a shop may
make it difficult for disabled people to use the service. Simply rearranging
the display units may make a tremendous difference. Improvements to the
lighting could also make the service more accessible. This could be done
immediately or when you are refurbishing that area.
What is reasonable?
There is no definitive answer. The law uses this phrase to give some
flexibility and allow different solutions in different situations. However,
the Code of Practice advises that 'reasonable' may vary according to the:
- Type of services provided
- Nature of the service provider and its size and resources
- Effect of the disability on the individual disabled person
Some factors when considering what is reasonable are:
- Whether taking particular steps would be effective in overcoming the
difficulty that disabled people face in getting access
- The extent to which it is practicable for the service provider to take
- Financial and other costs of making the adjustment
- The amount of disruption caused by taking the steps
- Money already spent on making adjustments
- The availability of financial or other assistance
If you own a corner shop the changes you are expected to make are
different to those expected from a supermarket chain. Equally a village hall
will have different requirements to the town hall or the banqueting suite in
a large hotel. Installing a lift or new toilets may be inappropriate for a
village hall or corner shop but an absolute necessity for the hotel or town