While there is still some way to go before inequality is completely eradicated, the UK has made significant strides in recent years. Before the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), millions of disabled people were left struggling to use public transport, access certain buildings, or even do their jobs properly, with no legal protection for their rights. Coming into force in 1995, it was the first piece of legislation to make it unlawful to discriminate against those with disabilities in relation to employment, education, transport, and the provision of goods and services.
This legislation was replaced by the Equality Act 2010, which consolidated most of the anti-discrimination law across England and Wales into one piece of legislation and specified that every member of the public was given the same opportunities. Many people still refer to the Equality Act as DDA.
What was the DDA legislation?
The DDA prevented employers and service providers from unfavourably treating those with physical and mental disabilities or chronic health problems for issues related to their condition, imposing duties on them to help make this a reality. When the act became law in 1995, it had two specified deadlines. By October 2002, businesses had to have completed making reasonable adjustments for disabled people, like providing extra help or altering how they provide their services to prevent discrimination.
By October 2004, meanwhile, the legislation mandated that employers and service providers needed to have made reasonable adjustments to any physical features of their premises that had previously prevented ease of access. Examples included toilets, lighting, and steps and stairs, with “reasonable adjustments” including removal, alteration, or providing a way to avoid them. So, for steps and stairs, this often meant installing lifts and ensuring different floors of a building were fully accessible.
What were the DDA lift requirements?
While the DDA did not detail the exact alterations needed to make physical building features accessible, the Approved Document M of the English and Welsh Building Regulations gave definitive specifications of the building features which provide access to disabled people. As such, it often became a reference point for employers and service providers, with some of its main stipulations relating to lifts including:
- The provision of audible and visual information to let wheelchair users know that a lift has arrived.
- Making lifts large enough to “suit the anticipated density of use of the building and the needs of disabled people”, with the minimum size accommodating both a wheelchair user and a passenger.
- Ensuring that the controls that summon and direct a platform lift would be reaching distance for all users.
- Minimising the use of visually and acoustically reflective wall surfaces to prevent discomfort for people with visual and hearing impairment.
- Include handrails.
- Make glass-covered areas identifiable to people with impaired vision.
For the full guidelines, please read the legislation here.
What are the Equality Act lift requirements?
In practice, the Equality Act 2010 is very similar to the DDA, and also imposes a duty on employers and service providers to make reasonable adjustments to their premises to accommodate the disabled. As such, most lifts that conformed to DDA requirements should also conform to the Equality Act, especially as the majority will be built with accessibility in mind.
It is still recommended that landlords and business owners refer to the Buildings Regulations, as The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government stated in 2011 that compliance with these regulations does not necessarily equate to compliance with the Equality Act. They went on to explain that the reasonable adjustment specification means that “due regard must be given to any specific needs of likely building users that might be reasonably met,” so as long as you’re meeting this, you should be fine.
How can Premier Lift Group help?
Here at Premier Lift Group, we recognise the crucial role lifts play in the lives of disabled people. As such, many of our installations can be made with disabled users in mind, including our platform lifts, passenger lifts, and incline and step lifts. Our involvement in a number of high-profile accessibility projects—from installing incline step lifts at Old Trafford football stadium to platform lifts at the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn—shows that we can successfully work with the Equality Act legislation in mind.
So, if you need a lift installed to improve accessibility to your building, our range of solutions and experienced team means you can rely on us to do the job. Please don’t hesitate to get in contact today and see how we can help you.