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24th March 2017
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Barwood Products welcomes DisabledGo report
Barwood Products, which manufactures and supplies bathroom products for the disabled market, has welcomed a new report compiled by accessibility information provider DisabledGo, as 'sad but true.'
The report, commissioned by Minister for Disabled People Mark Harper, audited more than 30,000 shops and restaurants and claims access for disabled people on Britain's high streets is 'shocking.'
According to the audit, the largest of its kind ever undertaken in the UK, 40% of restaurants and a third of department stores do not have an accessible toilet.
The findings state there are 12 million people in Britain with disabilities with an estimated spending power of £200bn and while many retailers have invested significantly in improved accessibility in the last 10 years, the majorityare still not doing enough.
Sharon McKenna, Barwood Products sales & marketing director, comments:
"The Equality Act of 2010 obliges organisations to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people. Whilst we're seeing a steady flow of requests from well-known high street names and small independent businesses for more accessibility, there's still a lot more than can be done."
Sharon stresses there are examples of retailers getting it right. One is prestigious British retailer Selfridges, which has recently refurbished the disabled toilets in its famous Oxford Street store in London using premium stainless steel grab rails manufactured by Barwood Products.
An example of a smaller business getting it right, adds Sharon, is a chic cat enthusiast cafe in Shoreditch, East London, Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium.
The cafe, which is home to around 20 cats from rescue centres, is housed in a former ice cream parlour and off-licence, which underwent a significant refurbishment that included consolidating all the plumbing in to one central source. As part of the plumbing work a bathroom facility was installed that was legally obliged to meet Government Approved Document M of the Building Regulations. In conjunction with her local plumbing merchants and plumber the owner opted for a modern looking, close coupled Doc M pack from Barwood Products, complete with grey handrails and basin.
Sharon comments: "If a small business like Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium can get it right then so can everyone, without compromising on safety or style.
"We as an industry need to do more to ensure the high street is up to speed on what it can and cannot specify to accommodate disabled customers.
"Architects, specifiers, contractors and merchants and our own retailers must remain abreast of new product development to facilitate the improvement of disabled facilities. As the report shows, it's a potentially lucrative market, both from high street development angle and a private consumer perspective.
"Whilst it is very pleasing to see our products being specified in a number of world class institutions, there's clearly great scope for better accessibility in the UK.
"We work hard to provide high quality products - many of which are manufactured right here in the UK - that fully conform to all regulations. We pride ourselves on providing not only practical, but stylish solutions too in the firm belief that there should be no discrimination between standard bathroom facilities and those for the less able."
23rd January 2015