Disabled access and facilities in business premises

Overcome physical barriers to access

The physical features of your premises can create barriers that can put disabled people at a substantial disadvantage compared to non-disabled people in accessing your goods or services.

Definition of a physical feature

A physical feature:

  • is determined by the design or construction of the building
  • forms part of the approach, entrance or exit to your premises
  • can be fittings, fixtures, furniture, equipment, machinery or materials
  • is any other physical element on your premises

Examples of a physical feature

Examples of physical features include:

  • steps, stairways, kerbs
  • floors and pavings
  • doors and gates
  • toilets and washing facilities
  • lighting and ventilation

Legal requirements

Under the Disability Discrimination Act you must make reasonable adjustments to overcome these barriers. You can do this by:

  • removing the physical feature altogether
  • changing it so it no longer creates a barrier
  • providing a reasonable means of allowing disabled people to avoid using the physical feature

You are required to make reasonable adjustments to your premises, to the way you do things or provide auxiliary aids or services where disabled customers and potential customers may be at a substantial disadvantage compared with non-disabled customers.

Overcoming barriers created by physical features

Examples of overcoming barriers created by physical features to help disabled people access your goods and services include:

  • providing a wider car parking space in your customer or staff car park reserved for use by Blue Badge holders
  • replacing steps with temporary or permanent ramps at the entrance of your premises
  • fitting hand rails to help disabled people use small steps, eg one or two steps
  • widening doorways so that wheelchairs can pass through easily
  • making signs easier to read, eg you could supplement written signs with pictures and visual signs
  • moving furniture or other obstacles to allow a clear passageway for people with a mobility or visual impairment

Disability Action provide a technical advice service to help businesses make premises accessible to everyone.

Financial assistance for accessibility work

There may be financial assistance available to businesses that make reasonable adjustments to physical barriers to access on their premises.