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Wheelchair access in my new shop

Reply with quote Hi everyone, I hope you can help me.

I am in the process of moving my retail business to new premises.
We have almost completed the deal with Birmingham City Council, but when we went for a final viewing yesterday, I realised that there is no access to the basement floor of the shop for wheelchair users.

We had a viewing before, but it was very brief, and thee electricity was disconnected and it was dimly lit. What I thought was a wheelchair lift was in fact part of an old spiral staircase that had been removed.

Now we're on the cusp of signing the lease. I have nowhere else to go, so it's either this shop or nothing.

I don't know what to do. We have a pretty sizable bunch of wheelchair users who are regular customers, a couple of whom have become close friends over the years.

My shop does body piercing and tattooing. There are some huge changing rooms on the ground floor and I think I might be able to convert one of them into a small piercing/ tattoo cubicle specifically for wheelchair users.

This still leaves an entire floor of clothing that is inaccessible by wheelchair though, and also the cubicle idea isn't ideal.

I feel terrible now, if I don't take this shop, my business will die and we'll all lose our jobs, but there seems no way around this. I even checked all the fire exits to see if there's a back way in, but no luck.

Does anyone know if I can force the council to install facilities?
Reply with quote If you can get around the problem by putting the services your wheelchair users want on the floor they can access, that could work out. However, I guess that's not really feasible as they might be interested in any range of clothing?

When I was at Farnborough 6th Form, the cafeteria was about half a storey below the entrance to that building. There was half a flight of steep, sharp steps to get down to it. Alongside this was a wheelchair lift. It was a sort of cubicle with clear sides. I think it had a hydraulic platform in the floor as there was nowhere above it for lift gear to go.

If you can afford a small lift like that, it could be the real solution. I imagine you'd earn back the money you spend due to the continued business of wheelchair users? It might take a while though.

Asking the council and relevant local charities for help also seems like a good idea.
Reply with quote Yes, i know the type of lift you're describing, but unfortunately that won't do. The ceilings are 15' high, so it would have to be a proper lift, and I don't think it would be possible to fit one in this building. If it was possible, it would be a hell of a job and would cost way more than my small business could dream of affording!

someone's obviously tried to improve access at some point because there are ramps where there used to be steps, but getting access to the basement was obviously beyond their capabilities.

The shop used to be let by a chain store, and they gutted and refitted the whole unit (I've seen the old plans) but they obviously didn't manage to fit a lift.

Another point is fire escapes. It's all very well having a lift, but what would a wheelchair user do if there was a fire? The current fire escapes have stairs, because I checked in case they were suitable for access.

It's very frustrating because we've always had a very diverse range of customers and I've always tried very hard to accommodate them.
In our old shop, we built one of our piercing rooms bigger to allow for unhindered wheelchair access, and designed the fittings to allow us to perform piercings on people who were unable to get up onto our couches.
Because of this, we have a hard core of customers who come to us because we provide these facilities.

Now I have to tell one of my regulars who's been coming to me for twelve years that he can't come into my studio, and he'll have to make do in a makeshift room. He has enough people talking to him like he's an idiot and patting him on the head without having to undergo that too.

It's pretty strange that Birmingham City Council have not seen to it that there is wheelchair access in their retail units. I understand that they have to take all 'reasonable steps' to accommodate disabled people, but surely with their money, installing a lift should automatically count as 'reasonable'.

Sorry to gripe, but I've been so excited about this new shop, and now I feel a bit let down.
Reply with quote i have search a site maybe it can help.

http://www.buywheelchairs.org/

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