Businesses praised for access work

FOUR businesses in Felixstowe have been rewarded for their work to improve access to their premises for disabled people.Rethink Disability carried out a survey of premises at the resort to see how traders were getting to grips with the new Disability Discrimination Act, which requires all shops and businesses to provide reasonable access to services.

FOUR businesses in Felixstowe have been rewarded for their work to improve access to their premises for disabled people.

Rethink Disability carried out a survey of premises at the resort to see how traders were getting to grips with the new Disability Discrimination Act, which requires all shops and businesses to provide reasonable access to services.

The charity decided to give Access Awards as part of a new pilot scheme to Barclays Bank, Puccino's coffee house, and Marks and Spencer, all in Hamilton Road, and Felixstowe Leisure Centre, Undercliff Road West.

All four were recommended by disabled customers for the easy access to their premises and their positive attitude towards disabled people.

They will now be able to display a special Access Award showing their facilities for disabled people, including toilets, personal shopper services, and information in different formats for those with hearing or visual impairments.

Barclays, for example, has put in wider power-assisted doors, low level tills, hearing loops, more accessible private offices and low-level writing surfaces.

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Linda Hoggarth, chairman of Rethink Disability, said: "We congratulate all these businesses. They have been found to be very helpful to disabled people and have a good reputation in Felixstowe for the way they make their services accessible.

"Rethink Disability is always pleased to hear of good examples of accessible services and we are also keen to talk to businesses who are looking for advice and information about making their premises more accessible."

The awards coincide with the charity's campaign to raise the awareness of the need for businesses to think about the access to their services in the run up to Christmas – especially as it could boost their takings.

The Department for Work and Pensions recently estimated the annual spending power of disabled people at around £80 billion per year – and Rethink Disability has warned shopkeepers they could be missing out on millions of pounds that could be spent by disabled customers unless they do work to improve access.

One Felixstowe shop – Cobwebs antiques store in Hamilton Road – ran in to a row when it banned wheelchairs from its premises.

But now the shop is welcoming disabled people, and has put a hand bell outside with a notice inviting people in wheelchairs to ring it if they need help.

Campaigners say such bells or doorbells at wheelchair height – to allow staff to be alerted to help someone in to a shop – are an easy way of helping a disabled person without enormous expense or alterations.

Some shops have been able to put ramps in place or use temporary ramps, automatic doors, and other measures.

WEBLINKS: www.disability.gov.uk

www.rethink-disability.org.uk

 

 

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