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High Street Shops, Wheelchair Ramps and Narrow Pavements
Now you would think wheelchair access to shops would be a simple solution, either alter the entrance, fit a permanent wheelchair ramp or when neither are practical provide a little portable ramp that can be used as and when required.
Now here lies the problem
Alterations – Most shopkeepers don’t own the shop, they are leased, which means alterations are rarely possible for small shops, even if the shopkeeper did have permission to make alterations local councils and highway authorities become the next hurdle and the cost of making these alteration make it almost impossible to do.
Permanent Wheelchair Ramps – Fit a permanent ramp and regulations say it should be 1.5m wide, 1:15 gradient, have double handrails both sides, have 100mm up stands, have warm to touch handrails, have contrasting materials, have a level 1.2m landing area outside the door, etc.
This makes it virtually impossible for a shopkeeper to provide a permanent ramp and even if he wanted to highways authorities would rarely allow a ramp on a pavement.
Portable Wheelchair Ramps – This makes the only option in the majority of cases a little portable ramp which can just be set up when required.
Simple you may say – Problem solved.
But no, despite most wheelchair ramp manufacturers producing small lightweight portable ramps that they say can be used at a 1:6 gradient for assisted use, ramps narrow enough to fit inside standard door frames, ramps that are easily handled my staff, ramps that fold away so are stored easily when not in use you still find shopkeepers won’t purchase these because they don’t comply to the guidelines.
What this results in is a shop with a little 150mm step direct on to the pavement where a 1.2m portable wheelchair ramp would make accessibility far easier for the majority of wheelchair users, does nothing instead for fear that the ramp doesn’t comply to wheelchair ramp guidelines.
Surely it would be far more sensible if an official body could produce more sensible guidelines regarding portable wheelchair ramps which are closer to the recommendations the wheelchair ramp manufacturers provide?
High Street Shops using Wheelchair Ramps on narrow pavements
Another problem with high street shops is they can often have a narrow pavement outside them.
If the pavement is too narrow you may still be able to put a ramp down but it becomes unusable as their isn’t enough room for the wheelchair user to get on the ramp because of the kerb or road.
Solving the problem of wheelchair ramps on narrow paths
Providing the pavement is 1.2m wide, an adjustable height platform can be positioned outside the doorway with the ramp running at 90 degrees meaning the ramp runs along the pavement rather than out from it.
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