Working with a variety of businesses across the UK we have noticed how many appear not to take proper account of staff or visitors with special needs. All too often the business will rely upon means of access that fall short of what the DDA Regulations require. They certainly don’t tend to account for ‘what if’ scenarios and therefore fail to ensure they are properly prepared to cater for a variety of needs or emergency situations.
Even when someone has a known disability that would require reasonable adjustments to be made these have tended not to be properly thought out, or even consider changes that have occurred since the persons needs were last reviewed. In one business we were informed that a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) had been completed; however on checking the requirements had clearly changed. The person was left working in an isolated position and the plans originally in place were no longer of use and left the person vulnerable to risks.
Making plans is clearly a legal requirement but this shows how important it is to review the plans regularly and make suitable changes if needed. It seems obvious to say that things don’t just stay the same and therefore plans need be adjusted to reflect this.
In a number of sites recently inspected, the design of the building and how a disabled person might view getting in and moving around has not been suitably considered. Frustratingly in one premise that had only been fitted out recently, yet easy access certainly has not been designed into the office. Clearly to consider the needs of all possible users of the office would require additional expenditure; however to comply with DDA this should have been thought about at the design stage.
We do wonder why it is the designers still too often go for style over substance; yes it looks great but probably not if you were to be seated in a wheel chair trying to move around safely. The legislation is designed to ensure everybody is treated equally yet clearly this message is failing to get through too often.