Accessibility Wales

In Wales over 18% of the population identifies having a disability. 57,000 people have a long-term illness, 120,900 people have a physical disability, 80,400 people have lung or heart issues and there are 142,000 people suffering from other disabilities. This large percentage of the population require many adaptions and face many difficulties and staying as independent as possible. The world of disability aids is large and sometimes it can be confusing for people to be able to find out exactly which adaptions are best for them and where to find them. This article offers advice, resources and tips in order to find the right products and adaptions.

Outdoor accessibility

For many people living with a disability all they want is to be independent. It is important that they can get out and about with minimal assistance and many people would prefer to stay within their own homes where they are comfortable rather than move to a specialist facility. The feeling of being cooped up is likely to lead to mental illness, so it is important that accessibility contractors provide a service that enables people to be able to leave their homes comfortably.

There are many different aids available;

  • Widened ramps in lieu of stairs can mean that a wheelchair or someone who uses a walking stick can safely transport themselves to different levels. This can be used instead of a doorstep or if there is a steep driveway then a ramp can be used to change the incline safely.
  • Railings are useful for those with mobility problems and can be installed by doorways for balance when locking the door and alongside ramps, walls or steps for guidance.
  • Personal emergency alarms that can be worn on the neck or wrist are very popular for isolated mobility impaired people. They enable the wearer to press a button and alert family, friends or care services that they have had a fall, or they are in distress so that they can get assistance. Many newer models also contain fall sensors that will automatically activate if necessary. This technology can be connected to a smart phone, smart clip or an alarm unit. These are available for both internal and external use and usually incur a monthly or yearly fee.

Charities such as Scope, Care UK and Disability Wales are available to talk if you require assistance with ordering these products and can advise people on how to get funding for them.

Workplace accessibility

The Equality Act 2010 states that employers are not allowed to discriminate against disabled job applicants or employees; or treat disabled customers or service users unfairly. There are many ways that companies and businesses can make provisions for people with disabilities in order to do their jobs to the best of their abilities.

  • They can assure their doorways are wide enough to fit an electric wheelchair without hindrance.
  • Emergency alarms can be adapted for deaf people with a flashing beacon that allows employees that are hearing impaired of a fire. Another adaptation in case of an emergency is ensuring that if a wheelchair user is based on a floor only accessible by lift that an evacuation chair is available.
  • Office equipment and lighting can be adapted for many different disabilities such as specialist’s keyboards for arthritis sufferers, lower wattage lights and screen covers for employees with migraines.
  • Disabled access doesn’t just mean catering for physical disabilities either. It could mean allowing a person with anxiety to have their own specific desk instead of sharing a ‘hot desk’
  • The governments Access to Work grant can be applied for by the person with a disability to allow them access to interpreters, Disability Awareness Training for colleagues, support workers and job coaches and counselling services.

You can find out more about different grants and equipment available below.

Home Accessibility

People without a disability will often take for granted normal things at home that can be made inaccessible due to old age or an impairment. Everyday items like sinks, plug sockets, toilets, baths and showers, home appliances and stairs can all be things made defunct when mobility decreases. Fortunately, many of these issues can be resolved with a few appliances and refurbishments.

Bathroom adaptions

Adapting a bathroom in a run of the mill house would most likely require major refurbishments. The adaptions required would be bath or shower adaptions such as adding handrails, changing a step-in bath to a walk in bath, adding a seat into the shower and bath, lowering the sink and changing taps that are turned for ones that can be pulled up or pushed down, exchanging the floor for a non-slip variety of flooring and having enough room next to the toilet for a wheelchair or hoist transfer.

Kitchen adaptions

Sometimes it just gets a little too much reheating and eating readymade meals. For someone with a disability cooking should not be made a privilege available only to the able bodied. Oven doors can be adapted to slide away or open at the side as opposed the traditional downwards opening doors. Hobs can be aligned at the front so that no reaching over is required and be fitted with additional safety mechanisms for easier shut off. A remote control can be used to turn on or off extractor fans. Sinks can be shallower with space underneath so that a wheelchair user can get closer to it. Work surfaces can also be adapted so that they are adjustable regardless of whether someone is sitting or standing.

There are also many small kitchen tools that can be made more adaptable such as electric can openers, jar openers, non-slip tableware and kettle tippers.

Multi-story adaptations

Stairlifts are available from a variety of retailers and enable a person with mobility issues to ascend or descend the stairs via a chair or platform. It is usually controlled by a button or remote control and is attached to the side of the stairs. As all staircases are different however there are a variety of stair lifts available in order to fit every size of stairs from wide to extremely narrow.

Facts about Accessibility in Wales

  • If you’re disabled it is likely to cost you, on average, £600 per month, more to live than an able-bodied person.
  • According to surveys taken by Scope in 2013, the year after the Paralympics were held in London, 70% of the disabled population felt more empowered and positive after seeing the Paralympic athletes.
  • Over 3.4million disabled people in the UK are in some form of employment however they are twice as likely to be unemployed.
  • Public transport has been getting progressively more accessible for disabled people with Braille on Stop buttons and open and close buttons, hydraulic lifts and ramps, disabled sections and toilets on trains and there are also discounted rail and bus passes widely available.
  • Banks, ATMs and special attractions provide audio and visual aids for people with impairments.
  • Eight out of every ten disabled people were not born with their condition.
  • One in three people in the UK with impairments are not living in a home suitable for their specialist needs.