A Chat with Access All Areas

We recently had the pleasure of talking to a professional disabled access audit company, Access All Areas. These guys were established in 2003 before the DDA was introduced and well before it changed over to the Equality Act, so they know their business and were happy to answer a few questions that I have had for many years about accessibility. 

Access All Areas is run by a wheelchair user of 35+ years, they have an extremely impressive client list that includes The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Department Of Trade And Industry, BP, Royal Ballet School, Capital One etc. We collared their main guy and asked the following questions: 

What has happened to the DDA and is it still applicable now we have the Equality Act 2010? 

Access All Areas LogoOK, this has confused many people, basically what has happened is the DDA also known as the Disability Discrimination Act has been included within the Equality Act but also deals with racial, sexual, age discrimination etc. the full requirements of the DDA has been carried forward and still apply 100%, basically it's just a name change.

What is reasonable adjustment and how does this work? 

Access All Areas LogoThat's probably one of the most common questions concerning access for disabled people under the requirements of the DDA/Equality Act. Basically it is looking at what official regulations such as Building Regulations Part M and British Standards 8300 recommend and making a "reasonable adjustment" between those regulations and what is viable and suitable for the business concerned. Example is that something like a reception desk that does not have a hearing induction loop would be expected to install one relatively quickly, however a reception desk that does not comply with two heights for wheelchair users, those of a small stature and the people standing would be expected to replace this at the next regular maintenance period, mainly because of the costs involved. Reasonable adjustment also depends on available finances.  

That answers that nicely, thanks. Another one if you don't mind; are you finding companies actually want to improve access for disabled people or are they doing it just because of regulations? 

Access All Areas LogoOn the whole most companies come to us because they want to make their buildings and services they provide more accessible, however I can't pretend that there isn't a small percentage that ask us to undertake an access audit because they are concerned about disability discrimination and the possibility of a claim from a disabled staff member or visitor. Sometimes companies think of an access audit as a sort of insurance policy to protect them from paying out a small fortune in the event of a discrimination claim.

Ok, to finish what is the funniest or wackiest situation you've come across in your nine years of business? 

Access All Areas LogoOhh that's a tough one and is taxing on the memory as well as trying to pick a good one. One that does spring to mind was a very large government body that asked us to undertake a full access audit of their London office location and to include the personal working environment needs of a blind staff member. 

We completed the audit site visit and then sat down with the blind guy to go through any issues that he wanted to raise, he raised a few that were very viable and concerned him and we addressed these to his satisfaction. However just as we were leaving I asked the question "is there anything else that is an issue or bothering you"? He replied, well yes; when I come into work on a rainy day my guide dog gets wet and other staff members complained that he smells, what can I do about it?

I really didn't know what to say but I am a" call a spade a spade" type of guy and replied to the following.

What the hell is wrong with these people? You travel across London using a dog for your eyes, avoiding all sorts of objects and dealing with public transport and all manner of hazards and you have to rely on your dog to make sure that you avoid them, you then get into work and all that certain people can say is “your dog smells”

My final reply was  "Tough” if they are really that narrowminded your boss really should insist that they receive disability awareness training. We included that recommendation and stated the above in their report. 

Many thanks, Access All Areas provide first-class cost-effective and very sensible access audit services, they can be contacted by clicking any of the highlighted links placed conveniently in this article.

You can also find  a number of accessibility sites inside Ableize directory by clicking disabled access.


Channel 4 Paralympics Terrible Coverage

Who ever gave Channel 4 the rights to broadcast the Paralympics should be strung up by the short and curlies. Coverage up until now has been nothing short of atrocious.

I have tried to watch wheelchair rugby on three occasions now but Channel 4 does not appear to be showing it or if they are certainly not telling us the viewer when it will be shown! After searching through the television listings, on the Channel 4 website and through the so-called Paralympic blog my blood got to boiling point and I decided to call them up on the phone this is a reply to why we cannot watch individual sports such as wheelchair rugby. 

I was told that there are no scheduled times for the programmes to be shown and that even though the TV synopsis tells us that for example swimming will be shown what they actually mean is it is a combination of sports and if you are prepared to sit through around 3 to 4 hours you may eventually find the program comes on albeit a clip rather than the full coverage. 

Apparently the Channel 4 website will not be repeating any of these sports online, so basically if you are looking to watch a specific sport you are stuffed! It would seem that the Paralympics is more about how much advertising Channel 4 can generate rather than giving us the viewer anything short of a second rate service!


What Disabled Sports are There

If like me you have been watching the Paralympics and thinking mmmmmmmmmm maybe it would be nice to get involved in some sort of sport but not sure what is out there, then please check out our very comprehensive disabled sports section inside the ABLEize disability directory.

Sport is not just about winning gold medals, to the everyday man and woman on the street disabled sport is about getting involved with others socially, enjoying the participation and of course maybe even getting a bit fitter. 

You might want to choose something as relaxing as wheelchair rambling, bowls or even horseriding for the disabled, on the other hand there are plenty of sports aimed at the more enthusiastic including wheelchair basketball, fencing, rugby and netball as well as golf, tennis and of course archery and hey even skiing.

There are numerous sports out there and you would be surprised how local many of the clubs are and remember that sports such as fishing, flying, shooting etc are often catered for within non-disabled designated clubs.

All you need to do is to go along, check out the club and decide if you want to give it a go. You won't lose anything but you may gain a brand-new and very valuable social activity!

Check out the Ableize disabled sports section by clicking this link disabled sports.
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Forgotten Paralympic Stars "Where's Karen Watts"

I'm sure we all agree that each and every one of the Paralympians are stars whether they get to the medals podium or not, one thing that does niggle me though is if you look back through the years you will struggle to find much detail about past Paralympic gold medallists. Compare this to any Olympic medallist, gold or not and you will see a massive difference. Here is an example.

I have been trying to trace details about Karen Watts, who won not only one but two gold medals in Seoul in 1988, Try searching and all you will find is a small mention on the archerygb.org site, and that is a PDF download with no more information than the name, a name mentioned on a medal chart on the Wikipedia. Compared this to any "Olympic" medallist and you will find Wikipedia articles, profiles details of their life, images, news stories etc.

We are constantly being told that the Paralympics is as important as the Olympics, if this is the case then why can we not ensure that the medal winners of today are not forgotten tomorrow!

We have a long way to go before equality truly exists.

Kasino på nett


Paralympic Village and Map

For those interested in following the Paralympics and getting a bit of inside info into the games location, please see the map below....Click to Enlarge.

London - The Olympic City, from LondonTown.com
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Ableize Succumbs to Twitter

I decided that I would allow myself to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century and start up an Ableize Twitter page. Not sure where I'm going to go with this, will see if it is of interest, and if I don't end up boring the pants off of you all, I may well continue, if I start to get followers.

Twitter without followers is a bit like talking to yourself! Catch my Twitter page by clicking " Ableize Twitter" and please show your support and share views. Will be putting a link up in the Ableize directory if popular.


Tips Before Buying a Stair Lift

Last year I found myself eventually having to give in and accept that it was time to have a stairlift installed and not wanting to move from our home that we have done so much work too including a new kitchen, conservatory, wet room and just finished an extensive project to make the garden more accessible, moving home was not desired or financially viable.

Looking back I have to admit that it was a very good move, life is much easier and I am now safe going up and down the stairs and of course I am able to stay in the home that I love. Below are a few tips on buying a stairlift that I hope will help you make the right choice of not only the best make and model to meet your needs but also choosing the right company to install and maintain your lift.

Ensure that the stairlift fully meets your needs and that your home/stairs are surveyed and your individual requirements met including left or right hand controls if needed. Also look out for stairlift comparison sites, they can be a valuable tool in discovering what is out there, prices guides and what their customers have to say.

Stairlift cover: Most stairlifts come with a 12 month guarantee/warranty and that will include any repairs or breakdowns needed. However make sure that you receive full 24/7 breakdown cover before buying; you would be surprised how many companies only provide limited call-out and not at weekends. If they don’t offer it DO NOT entertain them!

Free home assessment: All reputable companies will offer you a free no obligation home survey/assessment.  Ask if there is a price before booking a home visit, if they charge go elsewhere.

Reputable company. Do as much as you can to ensure that the company you use is reputable and their website offers not just a telephone number but also their physical address and certainly not just a mobile number. 

I have checked out many stairlift suppliers and installers and Stay Home Stair Lifts is one of the best and most comprehensive I have found, they offer a full free survey, 24/7 breakdown cover, free advice and brochures, positive client testimonials and they are a family run business.  Call them on 0800 652 9562 and tell them Ableize sent you.


Memory Foam Mattress and the Disabled

Memory foam mattresses often confused me (okay I'm easily confused) most disabled people that I know that have got one seemed to be wanting just a better or more comfortable night’s sleep, suffering from back pain due to being in a wheelchair all day was my reason for getting one and giving it a try; have had one for about a month now so thought I would share my views for anybody else with a disability or mobility problem thinking about getting one.

Firstly; don't be confused by all the technical jargon such as “technologically advanced visco-elastic PU foam” this doesn't really get me excited, just makes me wish I paid more attention in school. Best, easiest and certainly the quickest route is to do as I did and ring a competent supplier, explain your needs and let them guide you. I should make it clear at this point that buying a memory foam mattress will not improve your memory or indeed help you find your lost car keys, no; the memory part refers to how the mattress will mould to the shape of your body. This can be very beneficial to people with a curvature of the spine, and related disabilities allowing the mattress to mould to your shape and offer greater comfort as well as others like me that suffer with lower back pain.

You do need to persevere, the first night may feel a little strange especially if you're used to sleeping on a mattress that resembles a barn door as I have been for far too many years to confess to. That said I have found that I have less aches and pains in the morning and my two Jack Russell have given a definite paws up as they seem to love the way the mattress moulds to their bodies forming a little nest.

I normally try to avoid recommendations but the guys I rang were very professional and were able to answer all my questions in a manner that even I understood so thumbs up to them; their website can be found by clicking this memory foam mattress link.

Good luck, please let the world know your views by submitting your reply below, also you can check out a no-nonense memory foam mattress review for a straight talking review including the good as well as bad bits.


Wheelchair Users and Trapped Wind

Excess trapped wind can cause excruciating abdominal pains for anybody but wheelchair users are particularly vulnerable due to being less mobile and obviously not walking around.

Okay, I can feel a few sniggers and fart jokes coming on so let's get those out the way first. Big farts, wet farts, loud and smelly farts. OK that's that sorted now on with the serious stuff.

Anybody having suffered with severe trapped wind will know what I'm talking about, it can literally make you think you're going to die or at best have a severe heart attack! Movement of any kind becomes excruciatingly painful so here are a few tips on how to avoid the buildup of trapped wind.

Try to avoid drinking out of a straw as this forces more air into your system.

Eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly before swallowing

Avoid over eating foods that are rich in cellulose or protein such as:


Obviously the list of food above can prove vital for your healthy diet, I'm not saying don't eat them but it would be best to reduce the amount that you eat.


Disability Travel Training

I had an interesting email a few days ago about “disability travel training” like me; many of you have probably not heard of it, disability training where the non-disabled, businesses, etc are trained about the how to approach a disabled person, what not to say, don't lean on the chair, that sort of stuff but disability travel training is a completely different ball game and overall more beneficial.

This is where I put on my teachers hat in an attempt to educate you all out there in cyber land. This type of training is designed to help people with a range of disabilities who lack confidence or the skills to travel independently? Many of us take getting on a bus or a train as an everyday part of life, but many people might not be able read a timetable or recognise numbers, or seriously lack confidence that leaves them so scared to leave the house because they might get lost, what if you are not good with money and worried about change or using machines to buy a ticket. This problem is a very real one and happening to many disabled as well as non-disabled people throughout the world.

Disability Travel Training can take many forms from very intensive one to one training to building confidence for someone who hasn't used public transport for a long time. The intensive training normally starts with meeting the person in their own home to discuss their personal barriers to traveling. The trainer then develops a plan and discusses the expectations of what the client wants to achieve, this could be using a bus to the local shops, or a train to work. The development plan will involve gentle persuasion and taking people out of their comfort zone. The results can be life changing for many people and give them a sense of freedom and confidence which often develops in other areas of their life.
An example I was given was of a young 18 year old young man who had suffered a nervous breakdown he had lost all confidence to use public transport. He was met in a public library and the trainer discussed his issues, it was not the fact he couldn't read or write or recognise figures, he had lost confidence and didn't know how to regain it. After being accompanied on several journeys he arrived (pardon the pun) to the point where he wanted and was happy to travel on his own. Five sessions were involved and now the young man attends an employment club and is actively looking for work and meeting his sister via public transport. 

If you need further information on Disability Travel Training call 07966 30418.


The Sound of Silence

It shocked me to find out that around four million people in the UK suffer from undiagnosed hearing loss. One in ten adults currently suffer with mild tinnitus, with one in a hundred having hearing loss that seriously impacts on their lives.

Though many individuals are born with hearing problems and learn to live their life to the full, others see their hearing deteriorate later in life, or suffer damage in an accident. There are a huge range of factors that can cause hearing loss, including physical injury, autoimmune inner ear disease, damage to the inner ear and of course age related hearing loss.

For anybody interested there is a campaign to raise awareness of undiagnosed hearing loss, Amplifon have produced a handy infographic detailing key information about hearing difficulties, including the warning signs to look out for and how to prevent further deterioration. Well worth a look if you or a family member suffer from any form of hearing impairment. 


Happy 2012 from Ableize

Well here we are in 2012 and we survived the world coming to an end (so far) global warming and all the other atrocities that have threatened to be thrown at us.

I hope you all out there in cyber land had a terrific Christmas and that your New Year started with a bang and continues on an upward slope towards a very prosperous and happy 2012.

I am just off to trudge through the marauding crowd to return those broken, duplicate presents and just hope that the shop assistants are in a good mood as I don't have receipts for any of them, I will then be dragged very much against my will around the shops in search for sales that simply don't exist or if they do the money saved wont even pay for the petrol to get their.

As you may have gathered I'm not a lover of shopping, much prefer chucking it all in the online shopping basket and having Royal Mail deliver it to my door.

Rant over, have a terrific 2012 and keep your eye out for blog entries here that promise to be enthralling and holding you on the edge of your seat in excitement, unlike this one.