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Improving Access For All

It is important that your business recognises that some customers have special requirements when it comes to obtaining your products or services.


Great times and memorable experiences occur indoors AND outdoors. They occur at the lakeside as well as in the dining room. They occur in the recreation room and when trying to cook something over an open fire.

How accessible are your buildings?
How accessible are your activities?
How can they be adapted or improved?
What should be your long-term targets?

The checklist will give detailed and objective answers to the first two questions, offer some guidance and ideas for adaptation and help formulate some general long-term goals.

P1150696Some customers with special needs may be:

  • People who have special dietary requirements
  • Babies and children
  • Tourists
  • People whose primary language is not English
  • Senior citizens
  • Physically disabilities
  • Intellectually disabilities
  • Mentally/emotionally disabilities
  • Hearing impaired
  • Vision impaired.

It is essential that your business have plans regarding protocol and procedure when encountering a person with any of the above requirements.

Accessible Facilities

All facilities should be accessible or at the very least, the operator needs to know the limitations of the accessibility.

Good accessibility includes obvious matters such as physical access as well as less more subtle issues such as signage and interpretive material.

Who Needs Accessible Facilities?

The first group that come to mind are people with physical disabilities, which includes but isn’t limited to, people in wheelchairs. People in wheelchairs, older people with limited capacity to manage steep steps, parents with young children, particular those in prams, people with walking frames or walking sticks all benefit from good physical access.

Other aspects of accessibility include clear and unambiguous signage and written information – for safety or interpretation

People who benefit from good access include:

  1. People in wheelchairs or with walking aids
  2. Older adults
  3. People with sensory disabilities – hearing or sight
  4. People with extra equipment such as prams
  5. Small children
  6. People whose usual language is not English (may be overseas tourists, may be local customers)

Accessible facilities means more than toilets and showers and ramps at the front door – although these are important. Accessible toilets also need handrails but also adequate space to manoeuvre wheelchairs, doors need to be able to be opened and closed by people in a wheelchair, taps and basins need to be of an appropriate height and style. Improving accessibility requires some thoughtful planning.

Some examples of barriers to access are:

  • Barriers to physical access — kerbs and footpaths, weight of doors, access to desks, counters, steps, narrow corridors, loose furniture obstructing pathway, or steep ramps.
  • Barriers to accessible information — height of reception desk for a person in a wheelchair, leaflets and pamphlets out of reach, size of font too small, or complex language used.
  • Barriers due to lack of staff awareness and skills — staff unaware of the specific communication skills needed for people with disabilities, lack of understanding of abilities and limitations.
  • Barriers to opportunities to socialise — telephone too high, furniture too low or too high, drink fountain inaccessible due to height and operating lever, dining area at different floor level, or steps at the entrance.
  • Barriers to participation in outdoor activities — pathway to the activity is too steep or too rough, equipment is only suitable for narrow range of body size or shape, equipment is only suitable for a narrow range of ability, staff lack knowledge to adapt activities or equipment.

An extensive checklist gives an indication of areas you should consider when examining your venue and activities for accessibility.


Be prepared! Sport and Active Recreation Programs for People with a Disability. A Resource for Volunteers and Staff

A new disability resource kit, ‘Be prepared! Sport and Active Recreation Programs for People with a Disability. A Resource for Volunteers and Staff’, was released in 2014.  Download a copy here.