There are many official guidelines in place such as the BS8300, DOC M and the DDA Guidelines which define accessibility standards in specific environments. What we want to ask is… do these guidelines really define accessibility?
Lots of products and facilities are listed as accessible, however, very little is defined over who they are actually accessible for. Something being “accessible” simply means that it is available to be used or entered, which unfortunately doesn’t shed much light on the matter for people with particular needs.
Having a ramp doesn’t make somewhere wheelchair friendly. This would depend on the width and gradient of the ramp and it’s positioning within the facility. Is the ramp too steep for motorised wheelchairs? Is it wide enough for maneuverability when travelling both up and down? There are many more factors to take into consideration than just putting something in place which appears to be “accessible”.
When it comes to fitting bathrooms and kitchens, it is vital to take into consideration the needs and abilities of all users of that room. If there are multiple generations in that home then it may need to be safe for young children, adults and possibly even the elderly. Maybe one of the adults has a disability? This would require a well-planned design and a top quality installation to guarantee that the needs of all users were being met.
The positioning of grab rails and shower seats may seem straight forward and simple, however it is important to ensure that these fittings are in a position which allows all users to use all of the items in that room safely and comfortably. The installation of one product, should not negatively affect the use of another.
Accessible products like AKW’s can have a huge impact on people’s lives, by promoting independence and generally improving peoples quality of life, however what is as vital to the process as the quality products is the planning, design and implementation of the adaptation.
What installation faux pas have you seen? Do you have any stories about particularly challenging designs? Leave your comments below.