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Disabled Aids in Shopping Centres

Jul 29, 2008
Disabled facilities in shopping centres in the UK have improved significantly and with the introduction of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) in 1996, Part III effective since 1999 service providers must make 'reasonable adjustments' for disabled people.

The aim of the disability act being to promote inclusive environments that can be used by everyone regardless of gender, disability or age.

Most shopping centres in the UK are now accessible and offer a range of disabled facilities. Obviously it is in the interests of the shopping centre to be as accessible as possible on order to attract more and more people through its doors as well as competing with Internet shopping. Shopping centres also want to allow people with a disability, access to the entire shopping centre to enable everyone to enjoy the range of shops and services on offer.

Many shopping centres have convenient parking with easy access to entrances, and automated doors to assist with getting in and out of the centre. Most large centres will have well signed dedicated disabled parking bays usually positioned as near to the centre as possible. Doors with opening controls at wheel chair height make it even easier for wheel chair users to access a building.

Anyone who has limited mobility can get around the shopping centre by using a wheelchair or scooter. Again many of the larger shopping centres take part in the Shopmobility scheme by making wheelchairs available to their shoppers. This free service provides manual and powered wheelchairs and scooters to aid people with limited mobility to shop and make full use of the shopping facilities in a town or city. Children's pushchairs are also free to loan under the scheme.

It is also important to note that companies are spending a lot of money on making 'reasonable adjustments' to their facilities including areas such as the toilets. As well as making the centre more accessible, toilets should also be conveniently located and accessible for people with mobility impairments. Ideally accessible toilet facilities for disabled people should be dedicated, unisex, allow left/right transfer for the wheelchair user and have an adjustable changing table complete with power hoist. They should also be conveniently located throughout the shopping centre and be fitted with an emergency alarm.

Shopping centres in the UK have successfully promoted a more accessible built environment and improvement of facilities for disabled people by following good practice measures. This makes it both easier for disabled people to get around and as their needs are catered for it makes it easier to enjoy a day out.

Shopping centres in the UK also have to take into considerations shoppers with sensory impairments. For customers who are partially sighted the centre will often provide a larger print version of the shopping guide and map from the Customer Services Information Desk.

Hearing loop induction systems are also provided for customers using hearing aids.

When choosing a shopping centre to visit most shopping centres in the UK will have facilities in place for a disabled shopper. Before planning a shopping trip you may need to check online to see exactly what facilities they offer, alternatively give the customer services team a call, as they will usually be happy to help.
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