As staycations are set to boom this summer, now is the perfect time to prepare your accommodation for new guests. Here, Alison Hughes, Interiors Director from Coast Road Furniture (www.coastroadfurniture.co.uk) shares her tips for making your accommodation more accessible.
The Equality Act 2010 has made it a legal requirement for all facilities that offer goods and services to the public, including accommodation, to ensure that their setting is as inclusive as possible.That means that whether you run a hotel, B&B, guest house, or self-catering accommodation, it’s vital that you have systems in place to ensure every guest can move around freely and comfortably. Doing so not only means you can adhere to regulations, but guests will be more likely to choose your business over those with fewer facilities, so there are plenty of reasons to improve the accessibility of your establishment.
To help you get started, below I’ll be giving you my five tips for making your accommodation more accessible.
OPEN EVERYTHING UP
Narrow corridors and doorways can make moving around your accommodation difficult for those with limited mobility. Opting for an open plan layout for reception areas, such as your check-in and dining areas, as well as all living areas in self-catered accommodation, makes it much easier for residents to move between the two. It’s also a good idea to widen corridors and doorways to make it easier for wheelchairs to move through freely.All corridors should be wide enough for a wheel- chair to turn around in (around 2m), and the same goes for bathrooms.
Bathrooms should adhere to the appropriate building regulations, and any bathroom amenities, including sink basins and towel rails, need to be at a comfortable height for wheelchair users too. If you can’t change the layout of all of your bathrooms or lodgings, it can help to dedicate a handful to disabled amenities and leave the rest as they are.
MAKE SURFACES ACCESSIBLE
To make your accommodation more easily accessible to guests with mobility issues or those who use a wheelchair, it’s important that you limit the number of steps you have around the building.This includes converting small steps into ramps and installing lifts to get to other floors.
Ideally, all internal and external surfaces should be made from a smooth material, and should be level wherever possible. Any areas with a gradient steeper than 1:20 should be designed as a ramp and the edge should be lined by a visual aid, such as tape, to mark it.
CONSIDER ACCESSIBLE FURNITURE
Adjustable furniture is the best option for bedrooms and reception areas, as these pieces can be adapted to meet the needs of each specific guest. For example, specialised reclining chairs can be controlled using a remote, and can tilt forwards and backwards to make it easier for elderly or disabled guests to sit down or stand up. Some also have grab handles at the ends of armrests, to provide a bit of extra assistance.
In bedrooms, motorised bed frames can be adjusted to help alleviate back pain. Plus, they can be raised so guests can sit up in bed while still being supported by their mattress.
DON’T FORGET COMMUNICATION
While updating your furniture and facilities are vital for accessibility, you should also consider your communication resources. Remember that not all of your guests will be well-versed in technology, so having both print and web-based information is a must.Any information packs, such as leaflets and brochures, should have audio and braille options available, and wall signs should also be written in braille.
Your website should be fully accessible too.Any images and links should have descriptive names so those with screen readers can navigate the page fully.You’ll also need to double check your colour contrast to ensure that all text is easily readable, even for those with colour-blind- ness or other sight disabilities.You can test your website’s colour scheme using a colour-blindness filter such as this one from Toptal.
With the UK staycation set to be big this year, this is great news for your accommodation. By following my top tips above, you can make your accommodation more accessible.