As a business, you may be treating people with disabilities as you would any other customer, guest or client; if not with extra attention. Accessibility could also mean accommodating those people whose needs are different (like someone who may bring along a service animal for emotional support) or face a temporary limitation (like someone with a fracture).
Here are some tips to ensure you physical space is accessible.
According to WHO, around 16% of the world’s population experience disability. Whether it is travel, education, healthcare, shopping or entertainment, we’ll have to facilitate them in every way possible.
In our society, we’ve seen people in wheelchairs being taken care of at airports. Hopefully the inclusive infrastructure extends to other critical areas like public buildings, railway and bus stations in India.
This is a wheelchair accessible restroom in the wedding hall areas of Radisson, Mohali (2D image extracted from a Matterport virtual tour). Notice the clear signage, step-free entry and a wide door frame. The architecture is such that those in wheelchairs get priority, than others who have to walk a bit further.
When we say a business in India needs to appreciate accessibility, it extends to simple (but vital) points that are publicly visible in Google Maps. If your location has seating and a toilet that’s wheelchair friendly, it can be marked in Google Business Profile.
We strongly urge our website visitors (business owners and others) to become a Local Guide so that you can mark the places you visit as wheelchair accessible or not. This can save a lot of time and trouble for folks.
Here’s a screenshot from the mobile app:
If your place has steps in the entrance, a contractor can add a ramp, so that a wheelchair can be moved easily. If it is on a different floor, an elevator is necessary.
The yellow motorised stair lift is a welcome addition for older people at Radisson, Shimla. Hilly areas have great views and such outdoor stairlifts are an alternative for elevators.
Accessibility is a broad term. In a generalised version, it could refer to making the fonts bigger for your parents or grandparents in their mobile devices. In other cases, it could mean the beeping sound in Bengaluru’s traffic signals that helps blind pedestrians cross.
For our purposes, while we offer digital marketing and Matterport 3D scanning services, we hope our clients make their places accessible to their customers, if it isn’t already.
Customer Experience Centre, dormakaba, Bengaluru.
Automated restroom swing doors for disabled or older people. These advanced access solutions also have emergency alarm kits.
Talking about restrooms, accessibility features may include grab bars and wheelchair-friendly shower dams, among other things. Here are some easy-to-install items that can be purchased right away. Note that this is for the Indian market only:
Grab bars are for safety, and is very important in restrooms. If not present, we may be missing out on that audience. Here’s how it looks:
These items can also be kid-friendly, thereby naturally increasing the positive reviews from guests. Not to mention, word-of-mouth-popularity and the amount of business that can bring in, for these simple additions.
One of the sectors where we’ve created hundreds of Matterport 3D scans is hospitality. If you’re yet to begin construction or plan on remodelling your existing property, here are some pointers:
- Parking: Ensure it is wide enough and fairly close to the entrance. If steps can’t be avoided, build a ramp with ample lighting.
- Entrance: When doors are open, it should be wide enough to comfortably allow a wheelchair though. If there is a doorframe at the bottom, keep it less than 2 inches.
If your door has a threshold that can’t be removed, consider installing a ramp, shown below:
- Room: From the parking, through the entrance and lobby, the room is ideally in the ground floor itself, with no steps. If the rooms are in different floors, the elevator is conveniently placed close to the main entrance.
Bathroom: No steps or obstructions to the shower. Shower dams, if placed, should be collapsible and of minimal height.
Fix grab bars that can bear enough weight, close to the sink, shower and toilet. For suction-mounted grab bars, ensure they are secure and sturdy.
If feasible, place an intercom and/or an emergency alarm.
Jeff Bauman was a victim of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, where he lost both his legs. He was cheering for his girlfriend, Erin, at the finish line when the tragedy happened. The movie Stronger is based on this real-life story. Jake Gyllenhaal’s portrayal of Jeff is not necessarily about accessibility although we see the tough times he faces in a wheelchair.
Boston Red Sox lets him throw the first pitch in 2013, from a wheelchair, inspiring many. Eventually, the Red Sox wins the 2013 World Series. 3 years later, Erin takes part in the Boston marathon again and finishes. This time, Jeff is waiting for her – standing tall in his prosthetic legs.
If disabled people can participate in the Para Olympics and also volunteer in the 2024 summer Olympics, we can sure be sportive enough to make things accessible in their day-to-day lives everywhere else.
The Paralympic Games of Paris 2024 is from 28th August, for 12 days. The volunteer applications are open and you can be part of it for as low as 10 days, if selected.
The external links below include info on Accessible India Campaign, from the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Government of India.
Mohali’s Radisson RED (India’s first RED) was designed with accessibility features in mind. From the parking, up to the rooms, there are no steps. Bathrooms have grab bars on either sides: