What You Need to Do to Ensure Accessibility for People with Physical Disabilities at Public Venues

What You Need to Do to Ensure Accessibility for People with Physical Disabilities at Public Venues

A café busy with customers

What You Need to Do to Ensure Accessibility for People with Physical Disabilities at Public Venues

Are you certain your public venue is accessible to people with physical disabilities, including people with reduced mobility and wheelchair users? Where exactly is it necessary to have accessibility? What does the law say? What types of equipment can you set up?

Enhancing accessibility for your public venue will enable you to provide your users with physical disabilities with the best possible experience. We all know a satisfied customer will happily come back to your venue and will be more likely to spread the word about this fantastic place they’ve been to!

And to shed some light on what you can undertake, here we’ve compiled everything you need to implement to make sure your public venue is entirely accessible and ADA-compliant to welcome people with physical disabilities! 

Accessibility for people with physical disabilities at public venues: what regulations to apply?

Without any surprise, the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) is the one to strictly follow. Since 1990, the law aims at ensuring people with disabilities have access to the same rights and services as anybody else. Thus applying to public venues. If you manage a public venue such as these, you need to think about accessibility:

Stores and shopping malls

Bars and restaurants,

Hotels,

Banks,

Public services such as city halls,

Colleges and universities, private schools…

Amusement parks,

Hospitals,

Places of worship,

Cultural places like museums, movie theaters, stadiums

For all these public venues, the ADA requires not only that the building in itself to be accessible but also all the services the venue provides. The goal of this law is to ensure there’s no discrimination against people with disabilities by removing accessibility barriers. 

Existing buildings and new ones need to be ADA-compliant. Of course, it can be difficult for existing buildings to be completely accessible seeing that some are very ancient. Some would need to undertake major renovation works to enhance accessibility which could be very expensive. But the ADA states that they need to make “reasonable modifications” to suit the needs of people with disabilities. Plus the act emphasizes on communicating effectively with them. 

What solutions can you implement to enhance accessibility for people with physical disabilities?

There are a lot of things to consider to ensure your public venue is indeed accessible to people with physical disabilities. Keep in mind that people with mobility challenges don’t only concern wheelchair users, some people may use scooters, walkers or canes. The challenge is ensuring a seamless mobility chain so that people with physical disabilities can go from point A to C without any difficulties. Meaning that point B can easily link points A and C. But be reassured: the solutions you can implement to remove accessibility barriers are simple. Let’s take a look at them!

Accessibility outside your venue

Let’s start with what you can do to make sure people with physical disabilities can easily have access to your building:

PRM parking spaces: They need to be easily spotted with horizontal and vertical signage. And they need to be close to your building entrance to make the trips of people with physical disabilities easier.

A clean and smooth ground without any major obstacles or potholes. 

Large exterior circulations for wheelchair users to move freely.

Accessibility at your venue entrance

Obviously, your building entrance needs to be accessible if you want people with disabilities to enjoy your venue:

Access ramps: You can set up a permanent one instead or in addition to stairs. Make sure to respect the ADA requirements: ramps must be a minimum of 36 inches wide. They need to have top and bottom landings as wide as the ramp itself and at least 60 inches long. As for the slope, it needs to be greater than 1:20 and less than 1:12. A removable ramp also does the job: make sure it’s easy to use or that there’s a call button within reach so that wheelchair users can make their presence known.

Large doors: Indeed they need to be large enough to make sure wheelchair users can enter your venue. 

Accessibility within your venue

This is where you may need to step up your game to guarantee accessibility for people with physical disabilities! Let’s see what it entails:

Anti-slip mats: Mats at entrances, whether located just in front of the doors or right beyond, are necessary against dirt or mud but they also need to be accessible for wheelchair users. That’s why ADA-compliant floor mats have to be non-slip, robust enough and have the appropriate size and thickness to ensure wheelchair accessibility.

Universal pictograms so that your users with physical disabilities are aware of what services are accessible to them.

An accessible information desk and/or checkout: These services need to be easily identified thanks to a clear signage system. Plus lowered counters are easier for wheelchair users to see and be seen by your staff but also communicate effectively with them. And having a staff trained to best suit the needs of people with disabilities is priceless in terms of quality experience!

Elevators, escalators or access ramps so that your users with physical disabilities can access everything your venue has to offer!

Large aisles for wheelchair users to move without any difficulties. Thanks to large aisles, they can easily make a u-turn. 

Accessible seating areas.

Accessible restrooms: They need to be clearly identified thanks to the use of pictograms. Its equipment consists of a lowered sink and counter for handwashing, a higher toilet seat, grab bars on the wall closest to the toilet and behind the toilet, a bathroom emergency pullstring, and enough space for wheelchair users to easily make a u-turn. Every piece of equipment needs to be at the same level as wheelchair users for better comfort. 

Indoor navigation app: It’s particularly useful for users with physical disabilities to apprehend a new and complex environment. The app Evelity designed by Okeenea adapts perfectly to its user profile. For wheelchair users and people with reduced mobility, it provides optimized routes. Meaning that Evelity will guide them to use stair-free routes only.

 

As you can see, providing accessibility to your users with physical disabilities isn’t as tricky as it seems! Implementing these solutions will help you attract more users or customers to your venue. Even if you can’t undertake major and expensive renovation works, a digital solution can improve the accessibility of your venue! Thanks to all these different solutions and equipment, inclusion truly is within reach!

Would you like to know more about physical disabilities? Dive in with:

8 Tips to Welcome a Person with Physical Disabilities

9 Must-Have Apps for People with Physical Disabilities in 2020

Obstacles in Public Transport: What Solutions for Physical Disability?

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A wheelchair user and a woman using a cane side by side

Keep in mind that people with mobility challenges don’t only concern wheelchair users, some people may use scooters, walkers or canes.

writer

Carole Martinez

Content Manager junior

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Disability Pride Month: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

Disability Pride Month: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

Disability Pride Month: What Is It and Why Is It Important?July celebrates Disability Pride Month! A month to support and raise awareness on disability. It gives people with disabilities an opportunity to be seen and heard. Obviously, everybody has their own...

Disability Pride Month: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

Disability Pride Month: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

Disability Pride Month: What Is It and Why Is It Important?July celebrates Disability Pride Month! A month to support and raise awareness on disability. It gives people with disabilities an opportunity to be seen and heard. Obviously, everybody has their own...

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powered by okeenea

The French leading company

on the accessibility market.

For more than 25 years, we have been developing architectural access solutions for buildings and streets. Everyday, we rethink today’s cities to transform them in smart cities accessible to everyone.

By creating solutions ever more tailored to the needs of people with disabilities, we push the limits, constantly improve the urban life and make the cities more enjoyable for the growing majority.

How to Guarantee a Seamless Mobility Chain to Users with Disabilities?

How to Guarantee a Seamless Mobility Chain to Users with Disabilities?

The beginning of a mobility chain as users are entering a train station

How to Guarantee a Seamless Mobility Chain to Users with Disabilities?

Whether you are a subway network operator, an architect, a roadway manager or a museum director, guaranteeing a seamless mobility chain to your users isn’t the conundrum you’d expect.

Having an accessible and uninterrupted mobility chain enables people with disabilities to remain autonomous during their trips. A visually impaired person needs to be able, among other things, to find the subway station, go to the platform and make their connection by themself. The same applies to a wheelchair user. The curbs need to be lowered so that they can enjoy the city without any difficulties.

There’s a whole range of solutions that can guarantee people with disabilities, regardless of their profile, a real autonomy.

In this article, we’ll explain to you all the links that constitute the mobility chain so that you can set up easy devices for the benefit of your users!

 

A continuous mobility chain: a major issue

For people with disabilities, getting around can prove to be a major challenge. Any obstacles or barriers on their way can prevent them from getting around in a spontaneous way and therefore damages their autonomy, ruining, to a certain extent, their everyday lives. That’s where the mobility chain takes place.

The mobility chain can be summed up through these various stages:

1. Preparing your trip;

2. Using sidewalks and pedestrian crossings;

3. Using public transportation;

4. Coming up to the building and locating the main entrance;

5. Locating the adapted path to reach the chosen service;

6. Using horizontal and vertical circulations;

7. Reaching the chosen service, communicating with the staff;

8. Locating the adapted path to leave and exit the building.

We can see that the mobility chain forms part of accessibility. It truly is essential for people with disabilities since a continuous mobility chain enables them to move around more freely. Not having to ask someone for help when there are existing solutions so that they can manage by themselves turns out to be primordial for them.

A mobility chain is efficient when all of its links are connected to each other so that users can have a smooth trip without any obstacles: users go from point A to reach point C. Consequently, point B needs to be able to link A and C together. There can be many possible combinations in just one place. This is particularly striking with multimodal transit hubs such as a bus station with access to bus platforms, train platforms, information desk, city public transport… All the possible destinations need to be taken into account in order for the mobility chain to be covered in full. Every link has a role to play and if there’s one that’s broken, it’s the whole mobility chain that’s paralyzed.

On a larger scale, an optimal mobility chain helps build an inclusive and supportive city. A true challenge for a Smart City that has to welcome everybody including people with disabilities. But cities all over the world keep innovating to provide their citizens with safe and efficient mobility options. This happens to be the case with MaaS, a Finnish mobility transport platform, that facilitates the lives of both users and urban designers.

 

What are the solutions to implement for a seamless mobility chain?

Being a hotel or shop manager, nothing is more rewarding than a satisfied customer. Because obviously, a customer who had a good experience in your establishment is likely to come back and tell others about it. Whatever your establishment may be, public or private, taking into account the needs of your customers or visitors with disabilities will be beneficial for your activity. 

The same applies to cities which are committed in providing their inhabitants and tourists with the best possible experience. Roadways and public transportation have a key role in the image they send back to their users.

The first step consists in checking on the continuity of horizontal and vertical circulations:

⊗ Large doors and pathways;

⊗ Removing steps or offsets;

⊗ Removing upright obstacles;

⊗ Visual and tactile contrasting elements to limit traffic zones;

⊗ Securing stairs;

⊗ Creating alternatives to stairs: ramps or slopes, elevators or escalators.

Here is now a summary of different devices or solutions of equivalent effect that you need to implement to guarantee your users a seamless mobility chain:

For roadways: 

⊗ Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS) such as aBeacon designed by French company Okeenea;

⊗ Tactile ground surface indicators (TGSI);

⊗ Guiding paths;

⊗ Visual information for people with a hearing impairment;

⊗ Lowered curbs for wheelchair users.

Accessible Pedestrian Signals, also known as audible signals, still remain the safest way for blind or visually impaired people to cross the road. They can easily be activated on demand with a remote control or a smartphone thanks to MyMoveo app (available on both Android and iOS).

For public transportation (subway, bus, bus and train stations): 

⊗ Audio beacons like NAVIGUEO+ HIFI;

⊗ Secured stairs: handrails and contrasting non-slip stairs;

⊗ Guide paths;

⊗ Visible, readable and easily understandable signage: pictograms and Braille;

⊗ Visual information for people with a hearing impairment; 

⊗ Removable access ramps on buses;

⊗ Indoor wayfinding apps like Evelity: New York City subway chose Okeenea’s app for a test in real conditions. 

To activate audio beacons on demand, people with a visual impairment use the same devices than those used for Accessible Pedestrian Signals. Quite convenient! 

For public venues:

⊗ Parking spaces for people with reduced mobility, including wheelchair users;

⊗ Audio beacons;

⊗ Amplification systems or induction loop systems;

⊗ Secured stairs: handrails and contrasting non-slip stairs;

⊗ Elevators or escalators;

⊗ Visible, readable and easily understandable signage: pictograms and Braille;

⊗ Indoor wayfinding apps like Evelity: Luma Foundation in Arles, France chose Evelity for its visitors.

In a building such as a museum, metres and metres of guide paths can distort the architecture and the design of a place. An innovative solution like Evelity is particularly relevant! It fits in all types of places and buildings and provides a tailor-made experience to its users, whatever their profile may be.

No matter what activity you’re in, the training of your staff happens to be a true asset regarding the satisfaction of people with disabilities’ needs. They could thus benefit from a good experience and would be more likely to come back to your place or use public transport again. 

Setting up these devices, you’ll guarantee your users with disabilities a continuous mobility chain. Being able to get around in a spontaneous, safe and autonomous way makes a difference for people with disabilities!

 

Would you like to know more about accessibility? Find out more articles to learn all the good practices that other cities have already implemented:

How Cities in America Communicate Efficiently about Accessible Pedestrian Signals: Good Examples to Follow

How Can Shopping Malls Be Accessible to People with Disabilities?

How to Help People with Disabilities Get a Better Experience on the Subway?

Public Transport Information Accessibility: 5 Solutions for Deaf or Hard of Hearing Users

 

 

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People getting around in a subway platform in New York City

A mobility chain is efficient when all of its links are connected to each other so that users can have a smooth trip without any obstacles: users go from point A to reach point C.

writer

Carole Martinez

Content Manager junior

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Get the latest news about accessibility and the Smart City.

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Disability Pride Month: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

Disability Pride Month: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

Disability Pride Month: What Is It and Why Is It Important?July celebrates Disability Pride Month! A month to support and raise awareness on disability. It gives people with disabilities an opportunity to be seen and heard. Obviously, everybody has their own...

Disability Pride Month: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

Disability Pride Month: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

Disability Pride Month: What Is It and Why Is It Important?July celebrates Disability Pride Month! A month to support and raise awareness on disability. It gives people with disabilities an opportunity to be seen and heard. Obviously, everybody has their own...

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Unsubscribe in one click. The information collected is confidential and kept safe.

powered by okeenea

The French leading company

on the accessibility market.

For more than 25 years, we have been developing architectural access solutions for buildings and streets. Everyday, we rethink today’s cities to transform them in smart cities accessible to everyone.

By creating solutions ever more tailored to the needs of people with disabilities, we push the limits, constantly improve the urban life and make the cities more enjoyable for the growing majority.

How Can Shopping Malls Be Accessible to People with Disabilities?

How Can Shopping Malls Be Accessible to People with Disabilities?

How Can Shopping Malls Be Accessible to People with Disabilities?

 

Over 116 000 shopping malls are spread in the United States of America and generate each year around 5 trillion dollars. Is accessibility for all just an utopia for shopping malls or a serious goal to focus on? 

Malls constitute the essence of shopping: there are a multitude of different shops in one place with cafés and restaurants too so that people can relax. Everybody can find what they need to at any budget. It’s the place you go to in a panic to buy the Christmas presents on Christmas Eve and where you spend hours with your friends to find the latest clothing trends, see a movie or grab a bite. In theory, every person who possesses a credit card is welcomed but there’s actually a clientele that’s not or barely exploited due to a lack of accessibility: people with disabilities. Representing around 20% of the population, they’re not a market that one should afford to discard. Consequently, all shopping malls should focus towards providing an accessibility for all in order to meet the needs of the totality of its potential customers. Customers with specific needs but who have the same value as any other. When a person has a disability, how can they easily and safely go to the mall? And find the shop where little Harry had found the perfect toy train set? How can a person with a disability calmly shop in a overheated, stuffed and oppressing mall? Depending on the handicap (physical, sensory, mental and psychological), the difficulties they can encounter are not the same so shopping malls need to adapt accordingly. 

Going to the Mall 

People with disabilities first have to carefully choose the shopping mall where they want to go. It may be best at first to avoid the largest malls such as American Dream in the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey that has over 450 stores in 3 000 000 sq ft. For a valid person, going to the mall is the easiest thing to do. They either drive there or use public transportation and having several connections doesn’t bother them much apart from the fact that it may take a while. But people with disabilities need to prepare their route.

This means going online to do some research: do they need to take a cab that would accept a guide dog or one that’s adapted for wheelchairs? If they decide to use public transportation, is the subway station or the bus stop near the shopping mall? Of course, it’s best to ride a subway that’s accessible and has the appropriate signing system. The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall, for example, in Arlington, Virginia, contains more than 170 stores and restaurants and can easily be accessed by subway from Washington, D.C. It can even provide accomodations in case people need time for their shopping spree. If they struggle to get around once they’re inside the mall, they can use a complimentary wheelchair and keep shopping in all simplicity. By checking online the several entrances to the shopping mall beforehand, people with disabilities can easily plan which entrance to access according to the shops they want to go to. Some shopping malls are equipped with audio beacons that notify the visually impaired person where the points of interest are located (entrances, exits…) and give them some information such as opening hours. Some solutions exist that enable a person with disabilities to be autonomous and serene in their trips. 

Getting Around Inside the Mall

 

People with reduced mobility can easily get around shopping malls which are equipped with:

⊗ Elevators

⊗ Escalators

⊗ Ramps

Some shopping malls were designed vertically so that shoppers can move upwards and downwards with centrally located elevators and escalators to connect all the stories. Thus, people with restricted mobility can reach them as quickly as possible.

Navigating inside a shopping mall for a person who is blind or low vision can be tiring and stressing, especially with so many obstacles on their way: moms with strollers who act like Godzilla, toddlers running everywhere and bumping into you, the people who hate shopping malls and are in a hurry to leave… In top of all that, people with disabilities have to stay calm and find the right shop. Thanks to the use of a GPS indoor on their smartphone, a visually impaired person can find their bearings. The Macy’s Herald Square store in New York has been one of the first retail stores to implement a digital assistance with its audio-based indoor navigation system. With this type of technology, all the stores, restaurants and other facilities of a shopping mall can be mapped and easily located. Anyone who uses it can even be redirected if they took the wrong path. 

As in the subway, a good signage system is key to enable disabled customers to safely navigate inside the mall such as:

⊗ Accessible information points

⊗ Pictograms with flashy color

⊗ Bigger font sizes for signs 

⊗ Guide paths 

Installing a practical and efficient signage system contributes to provide accessibility for all in an indoor labyrinth. 

A very good example of a mall accessible for people in wheelchairs is the Mall of America, the second largest mall in the States in terms of total floor area, located in Bloomington, Minnesota. People in wheelchairs can easily access any store, eating at a restaurant and enjoying the many attractions that the mall offers. Everything is thought to attract people in wheelchairs and make them feel welcome like any customer. Even their accommodations are accessible. 

Communicating with the Staff 

Shopkeepers and sales assistants focus on helping the customers in the best way they can. (At least, that’s what they all should do but we’ve all had bad experiences.) Whether a customer knows what they want to buy or need advice, a staff that’s trained to deal with people with disabilities will be precious and extremely helpful. A proper training and an improved awareness of the needs of people with disabilities would not only be beneficial on a human level but on an economic one as well as they could turn into regular customers. 

A hearing impaired person can be provided with an amplifier (FM systems) to fully understand the advice of the sales assistant. Plus, some apps exist such as Ava which transcribes in live the words of a group of people. The sales assistant and the hearing impaired customer just have to download the app on each of their phones. The microphones enable the conversation to be transcribed. Thus, the hearing impaired customer will receive the same service as any customer and will be more likely to come back if they had a patient and helpful sales assistant to assist them. 

The same applies for a person in a wheelchair who would need a suitable fitting room to try the clothes, lower checkout counters and removable digital payment terminals. All customers are supposed to leave the mall feeling like they’ve had a good experience. Committed sales assistants are a big part of the customer experience. Accessibility for all certainly needs to be taken into account for shopping malls developers.

Mixing with Other Shoppers 

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the crowd and by the constant noise and loud conversations. Some autistic people are particularly intolerant to noise and wear noise-cancelling headphones or ear defenders in order to protect themselves from exterior noises. 

Every situation can be stressing for a person with disabilities in a confined and busy place. Shopping with a patient friend who knows best how to assist a person with disabilities can be reassuring and can turn into a fun careless day.

Accessibility for all is still a work in progress but some shopping malls are already leading the way. They understood that they could be more welcoming and inclusive to meet the needs of any type of public and attract more shoppers once their malls turned accessible, meaning more profits for them and happy shoppers who will have a great time doing something easy that everybody does.

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Navigating inside a shopping mall for a person who is blind or low vision can be tiring and stressing, especially with so many obstacles on their way. (…) Thanks to the use of a GPS indoor on their smartphone, a visually impaired person can find their bearings.

writer

Carole Martinez

Digital Content Manager Junior

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Get the latest news about accessibility and the Smart City.

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Disability Pride Month: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

Disability Pride Month: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

Disability Pride Month: What Is It and Why Is It Important?July celebrates Disability Pride Month! A month to support and raise awareness on disability. It gives people with disabilities an opportunity to be seen and heard. Obviously, everybody has their own...

Disability Pride Month: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

Disability Pride Month: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

Disability Pride Month: What Is It and Why Is It Important?July celebrates Disability Pride Month! A month to support and raise awareness on disability. It gives people with disabilities an opportunity to be seen and heard. Obviously, everybody has their own...

NEVER miss the latest news about the Smart City.

Sign up now for our newsletter.

Unsubscribe in one click. The information collected is confidential and kept safe.

powered by okeenea

The French leading company

on the accessibility market.

For more than 25 years, we have been developing architectural access solutions for buildings and streets. Everyday, we rethink today’s cities to transform them in smart cities accessible to everyone.

By creating solutions ever more tailored to the needs of people with disabilities, we push the limits, constantly improve the urban life and make the cities more enjoyable for the growing majority.