Improving access for disabled people

Improving access for disabled people

DISABLED people across North Somerset will now be able to find out which shops and facilities have adapted their premises to cater for people with wheelchairs, hearing impairments and other disabilities.

Nailsea Disabilitiy Initiative has carried out an extensive survey of 135 premises in the town centre to see which businesses provide facilities such as ramps, induction loops, wide aisles and doorways and staff to assist people who need a helping hand.

The charity, which is based in Crown Glass Place, was given �3,500 from the Big Lottery Fund to carry out the assessment and it has launched its access directory in booklet form and on the website this week.

Project manager, Helen Parnell, said: “There are some businesses and services that are already aware of accessibility as an issue and have already got things in place like portable ramps.

“However, some businesses don’t seem to appreciate that disabled access is an important issue and they don’t realise the potential for them in terms of footfall and profit.

“We hope the directory will raise awareness and hopefully make shop owners and services providers consider making small changes like putting in ramps, induction loops and looking at the way their shops are set out to ensure people with wheelchairs and pushchairs can fit down the aisles.”

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The NDI has printed 1,400 copies of the directory, which will be available at the NDI office, Nailsea and Backwell libraries, Tower House Medical Centre and Brockway Medical Centre.

Any businesses which make improvements can let staff know and amendments will be made to the online directory.

Ms Parnell, who has been working on the project for 18 months with a team of eight volunteers, added: “We had a checklist we used which included measurements of doorways, ramps, steps, induction loops and staff assistance and we applied these to every building.

“People also may not appreciate how many different types of disabilities there are and we hope we’ve looked at every aspect of how disabilities can affect people in terms of going shopping and using local services such as banks, libraries and leisure centres.

“This is an ongoing project and we intend to update the website regularly with any changes businesses make.”

Most of the premises assessed were in Nailsea town centre, but the team also hopes to visit a further 15-20 churches, pubs and services on the outskirts of town for inclusion in the online edition.

Anyone interested in checking out the directory can visit