Disability Discrimination Act – Access To Goods And Services

Making Access to Goods and Services Easier for Disabled Customers: A Practical Guide for Small Businesses and Other Service Providers

Public or common areas

Many small businesses operate in premises where they do not have responsibility for the immediate external environment – for example a shop with its entrance straight off the public pavement or an office on the first floor of a building.

In such cases, it is still helpful to think about how disabled customers – particularly customers with visual and mobility impairments – gain access to your premises. If you identify physical features that may create difficulties for disabled customers, there may be something you can do about it, such as:

  • having a word with whoever does have control over the space – for example your landlord or a neighbouring business. Explain the problem and ask if there is anything they can do to make access easier to your premises. Your landlord may be entitled to charge you for such work if this is permitted under your lease. If your landlord permits public access to common areas of the building, he may have responsibilities for considering access under the DDA.
  • talking to the local authority roads department (or the local access officer if there is one) to see what can be done to tackle problems such as uneven paving surfaces, lack of dropped kerbs at street crossings, unclear street signs and awkwardly placed street furniture. You may have a stronger case if you get together with other local businesses – perhaps through a local chamber of commerce or business association – to lobby the council, particularly for more major alterations to the external environment, such as raising the level of a length of pavement so as to create level or near-level access to a row of shops (which may or may not be technically possible, depending on the circumstances).
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