What do people need to do to enter the site, what parking is available and is it wide and large enough to allow people to transfer in and out of wheelchairs, are routes clear, unobstructed on level, firm surfaces?
Is there step free or ramped access around the external areas of the site? Can people easily find the entrance and reception areas?
If you have a barrier or locked gate, a means for calling for assistance can make a difference to access. This could be a call button, or a continually monitored telephone number. Consider whether the call button can be used by people with visual impairments or limited dexterity. Using a phone number that is capable of receiving texts benefits deaf people and people who are hard of hearing. Details can be found in BS 8300-1-2018.
A gate that is self-closing under its own weight is preferable to one with a sprung hinge; if the catch can be operated with a clenched fist it is likely to be accessible to most.
Consider the size of vehicles likely to be arriving, the direction they come from to / and plan a clear drop off area, factoring in the need for dropped kerbs and tactile paving. Review the area for safety.
Sport England recommend a minimum of 2 designated wheelchair car parking spaces, or 6% of the total parking provision, whichever is greater. BS 8300-1-2018 details a size of 2400mm x 4800mm, with alternative dimensions for larger / specialist vehicles. Dropped kerbs and tactile paving may be needed, surfaces need to be firm and level offering a safe route to the entrance, with signage above each space as well as pictograms on the ground.
Larger parking spaces or ‘family spaces’ can make a real difference for people who are not yet eligible for a blue badge, but may be experiencing cognitive difficulties (e.g. Dementia).
If you have post mounted signage (lettering ideally at least 150mm in height) and directional signs (50-100mm in height) consider the distance people will be viewing it from and how legible they are. Signs must contrast visually with their background and letters must contrast with the sign colour. Ensure capital letters are only used for first letter; typefaces commonly used are Helvetica/Arial/Futura/Avant Garde. Signs must not be reflective and positioned so as to avoid reflection from natural or artificial light.
Any lighting for routes should provide at least 100 lux at ground level.
Ramps should come with handrails, have a non-slip surface that contrasts with adjacent paving, have level areas top and bottom and a maximum gradient of 1 in 12. Steps require handrails, highlighted nosings, non-slip treads (250-300mm) and ideally closed risers (150-170mm).
Entrance doors should offer suitable contrast with their immediate surroundings and the building façade. Contrasting door furniture assists ease of use. Doors should provide a clear opening of 800mm. If you have glass doors, ensure there are warning indicators that contrast under natural and artificial lighting at both standing and seated height. A warning strip on the leading edge increases awareness when open. Door handles should be easy to grip, operate the mechanism and open (again from standing and seated positions) – ideally 19mm diameter, D shaped with an easy return. Thresholds should be level. Automatic doors can improve use of the building for everyone.
If you have an electronic door entry system, the activation point should be located on the latch edge, either on the door face or on the adjacent wall (within 200mm of the door frame / aperture). Proximity type cards may be the easiest to use. Swipe card and insertion type systems require more precise hand control, but if used should be orientated vertically.
Entry phone systems should be sited for use by all users, contrast with the background so they can be seen and ideally have an LED display to enable deaf people and people who are hard of hearing to use them. A means of indicating the call is acknowledged and that the lock has been released should be both audible and visible. If a video system is used, it needs to have a wide enough view to ensure any visitor is in the line of site. The option to include hearing (induction) loops with entry phone panels is desirable. Provision of a phone number capable of receiving text messages can assist visitors with a variety of communication needs.
Any entrance areas should be friendly and welcoming to put people at ease. Counters should include a lowered section to suit wheelchair users. Additional lighting may be required to ensure the receptionists face is evenly lit to aid lip reading, but avoid pools of bright light or deep shadows. Reception areas should have good colour and tonal contrast and shiny surfaces should be avoided as they produce glare and shadows. Clearly label any glass doors or partitions. A fixed induction loop (BS 7594:2011) should be provided and consideration given to the acoustic environment. Larger entrances or facilities could consider seating in the entrance area, particularly if people are likely to be waiting. Perhaps offer a quiet space for anyone who might be feeling anxious or confused. A few minutes with a supportive person might be all they need to feel comfortable. If you have a sign in system, make sure support is on offer for those that might need it, including those living with dementia.
Detail the procedures to follow to gain entry to both the site and the main building along with any assistance that is available.
Provide information about drop off points, designated parking and (if needed) the nearest blue badge and standard parking facilities.
Highlight if you have step free or ramped access from arrival points to entering the main building and be honest about any limitations