Disabled access is not a tick box exercise

Disabled access is not a tick box exercise

Check disabled adaptations very carefully

Access and facilities for physically disabled people are needed today and why ever not? It would be so unreasonable in this day and age to exclude the physically disabled from our activities. From my experience disabled access is turning into a tick box exercise. Remember disabled access is not a tick box exercise.

Disabled access is not a tick box exercise

Over the last 10 years I have become more and more physically disabled and now I need various adaptations in order to function when out of the house. I am astonished that some adaptations for disabled people are never road-tested. Let me give you a few examples.

Hotel in Amsterdam

I stayed in a room designated for disabled people in Amsterdam. The room was great in many ways until I went for my shower. I sat down on the seat, turned on the shower and it was fabuloso but I needed shampoo to wash my hair,. Nothing new there but the bottles were at the right height for a person who was standing up. I was sitting down and need grab rails to stand up. In order to squirt some shampoo onto my hands I had to stand up but there were no grab rails. Oh dear, what a shambles.

Hotel in Barcelona

I was allocated a room that was described as accessible for a disabled person. The only adaptation was a fold-down wooden seat screwed onto the wall of the shower where someone would stand. Same problem again with soap and shampoo. It was hopeless, they are off my Christmas card list.

Pedal bins

Why do so many disabled toilets have a pedal bin? How can a person in a wheelchair, or come to that matter me, open the lid of a pedal bin using a foot. Doh? What is wrong with a lidless bin?

Hanging space

You are a wheelchair user and you are in a hotel room staying for wheelchair users on your own. Go to the wardrobe and try to hang up your clothes. This is a bit tricky ‘cos the hanging rail is invariably at the usual height. Its far too high. No problem if you have companion or a carer. What happens if you are on your own? Once again this is a complete no-brainer.

A pub/restaurant in Berkhamsted

Go into The Highwayman, through the front door and the disabled toilet is very easy to access. Sadly the restaurant area is down half a dozen steps. You can access the restaurant in a wheelchair through the garden but it is a 100 yard round trip to get to the disabled toilet in a wheelchair from the restaurant. That cannot possibly be described as disabled access from the restaurant. You can read my article here.

Some good examples

Disabled access onto trains is reasonably good and Transport for London (TfL) have done well in difficult circumstances. Big shops provide level access but there are huge variations.

The whole issue seems far too random. Too many people think disabled access is a tick box exercise. Are there any simple guidelines saying on what disabled access means in words of 3 syllables or less?

I think hotels are the worst culprits followed by restaurants. Do you agree? Also what’s your biggest bug bear?

October 2017

12 responses to “Disabled access is not a tick box exercise”

  1. Nick Melliss says:

    People often seem to forget that signage is a disability issue. You can have good disabled access, but if you don’t know where to go, or how to get to a room, or which room you have to go to, because of poor signage, then that is so frustrating. People without a disability issue can wander around, look in rooms, go upstairs, go back to reception, etc. but for us that is difficult. I’ve found universities pretty bad for that.

    • Hello,

      Gatwick airport wins by a country mile. I was last there in 2011 and it was awful, the signs were there but always cluttered by other signs.

      At the Design museum I was told to go up a flight of stairs as I left an exhibition to decide good design.

  2. Yes its kind of frustrating to deal with stuff like those, they should be more cautious and think of more disabled people.

  3. Allan McMillan says:

    Although I am still fairly mobile I usually request a (or usually the) ‘disabled’ room in a hotel. And my commonest grouse is the absence of grab rails by the shower.
    How can we get improvements. There must be something more effective than my one-off complaints.

    • Hello Allan,

      First of all complain to the hotel and then offer to road-test their facilities. The adaptations are done by someone who is not disabled and has not thought the problems through as if disabled.
      All very frustrating

  4. I can tell you that it’s very similar Down Under.

    In “Disabled” hotel rooms the showers over baths, the furniture blocking wheelchair access to the bed, the beds too high or too low or too close to the ground for lifting equipment.

    Too many things to think about and “Standards” that are partial and incomplete.

    At the same time a need for sanity. What proportion of GDP *should* go into this? It is a very big issue.

    For a peek at how it might be if no expense were spared look at http://trailridertales.blogspot.com.au/2017/03/disabled-accommodation-to-die-for.html

    • Hello David,

      The hotel looks amazing. The problem as you say is that the problems and solutions are not thought through. Not difficult, just need disabled people in wheelchairs who will roadtest the adaptations. We live in hope

  5. Sue King says:

    I am now going to have a rant.

    I have said the same as you almost every time I use a disabled toilet. Why oh why do they put in a pedal bin. You wash your hands, dry them on the paper and then what do you do!! Surprisingly, many of the toilets at the NHNN.

    With regard to hotels, I am always concerned when the adapted rooms are on a floor accessed by the lift. There is often a notice telling you not to use the lift if there is a fire so is there someone who will risk life and limb to carry me down the stairs?

    I stayed at a Travelodge in an accessible room which was on the 1st floor and had a bath and no shower. I asked for a room with a shower and was told all the disabled rooms had a bath, it seems that a grab rail by the toilet make the rooms suitable for disabled!

    Glad I’ve got that off my chest

  6. Jane Ambrose says:

    Unfortunately Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge has pedal bins – impossible if you are disabled, you would think a hospital would be more aware!

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