Powerchairs, Accessibility and the Law

man on electric wheelchair

Disabled people are entitled, by law, to the same access to the world as people without mobility challenges. This applies whether they are a member of the general public, a student or an employee. All of the places that they visit must have at least considered the experience of people who use powerchairs and other mobility aids.

When someone first gets their mobility equipment from somewhere like Karma Mobility, they need to spend some time figuring out what their individual needs are. When people start using powerchairs, for example, they need to know things like the dimensions and abilities of their equipment so that they can communicate with their employer or other service providers about their needs.

Equality Act 2010 – what does the law say?

The law says that businesses have a ‘duty to make reasonable adjustments’ in order to provide access for people who use powerchairs and other mobility aids. There is some scope for interpretation of the term ‘reasonable’ so this does not mean that every business or workplace has to make every kind of adjustment. It depends on a number of factors including these offered by the Citizens Advice Bureau:

  • How practicable the changes are
  • If the change someone asks for would overcome the disadvantage they and other disabled people experience
  • The size of the organisation
  • How much money and resources are available
  • The cost of making the changes
  • If any changes have already been made.

Examples of compliance

There are many different ways to comply with regulations. Businesses can offer general adaptations as well as those that meet the needs of their individual employees. Here are just a few of the common adaptations that a business might consider:

  • Provision of disabled parking spaces
  • Adding ramps at entrances and exits
  • Installing automatic door openers
  • Adding braille alongside visual signs
  • Ensuring there are lifts to make other floors or changes in level accessible
  • Disabled access toilets.

It is important for the public and businesses to remember that not all disabilities are visible and that people are often working with more than one challenge to their mobility. They need to be ready to adapt and to listen to people’s individual needs.