I thought I would share with you a great discussion I had with Bill Menzies of ESL Services, he explained to me the requirements that retail businesses have in regards to disability access. ESL Services offer a “full-service range of professional, cost-effective and bespoke packages to help and support disabled people and all types of retail businesses throughout the UK”.
Bill has helpfully provided a Q and A below for retailers as to why it is important to carry out an Access Audit:
Q and A
Q. Why do I need to carry out an Access Audit?
A. There are probably 2 main reasons which are; to get more customers into your shop and it is a legal requirement under the Equality Act 2010. The Act states: all service providers must act upon the recommendations of an access audit carried out by a suitably qualified person
Q. Will this let me know what I have to do?
A. Yes the Report will let you know what “reasonable adjustments” you must make to let people with disabilities access your services. Not to make “reasonable adjustments” would be deemed unlawful.
Q. What is the most common Disability that shopkeepers miss?
A. We find that people with Hearing Impairments are the most Discriminated. There are 1 in 6 people with a Hearing Impairment.
Q. What would you recommend?
A. We would recommend that they have an Induction Loop.
Q. What is that? And how does it work?
A. It is an assistive listening system that provides access to facilities for those with a hearing impairment. It takes a sound source and transfers it directly to a hearing aid without background noise, interference or acoustical distortion.
The Customer would put his or her Hearing Aid to the “T” position to connect to the Induction Loop.
Q. Are there different types?
A. Yes there are different types such as Portable and Fixed.
Q. What is the difference?
A. Portable Loops are quite useful in a 1 – 1 situation as like a small consulting room however a Fixed Induction Loop should always be fitted at Counters, Reception Desks, Information Kiosks an Till Points.
A. Under the Equality Act 2010 you are not permitted to offer a lessor service to anyone with a disability. If you put a Portable Loop in front of someone with a Hearing Impairment you are highlighting that they have a disability and you could be causing them an injury to feelings.
If you do not have an Induction Loop fitted you are offering a lesser service and again you could be causing anyone with a hearing impairment an injury to feelings.
Q. What is injury to feelings?
A. Injury to feelings is what you could be taken to Court for not having provided a service that is available to someone who has not got a hearing impairment.
Q. What would happen if I was taken to Court?
A. You would have to prove that you didn’t offer a lesser service, you will probably be asked firstly for a copy of your Access Audit and then why you provided a lesser service.
Q. What if I don’t have an Access Audit?
A. You leave yourself open to losing the case and being found guilty of causing injury to feelings.
Q. How much would I be fined?
A. Case Law has been set at minimum fine is £1500.00 with no upper limit. You would also be liable to both Court costs and then made to make the “reasonable adjustment”.
Q. What does an Access Audit cost? And how much is a Fixed Induction Loop?
A. An Access Audit costs £400.00 ex Vat for 5 years cover by our Professional Indemnity Insurance.
Fixed Induction Loops cost roughly £350.00 – £450.00 supplied and fitted with varying Warranties from 1 year to 5 years.
Q. What do you offer and why?
A. We only use Ampetronic for our Fixed Induction Loops called a CLD1 (Counter Loop Driver), they are the World leaders in Induction Loop Technology.
They are the only Company who offer a 5 year Warranty as Standard and the only Induction Loop Company who has won the Queens Award for Industry.
As Premier Partners of Ampetronic all ESL Installers have been Trained and Certificated by them.
For a full CLD1 System and Installation we charge £358.90 ex Vat.
Training for Staff including a ILR3 Loop Tester with all Training materials and a Log Book to record your test results £100.00 ex Vat. (ILR3 Loop Tester cost is £100.00 ex VAT and also comes with a 5 year Warranty).
At RMS we have found the information that Bill has provided to be an eye opening read of exactly what is necessary for retailers in order to contribute to making a fairer and equal society.
If you would like to find out more about how ESL Services can help you as a retailer to ensure you are meeting the requirements of the Equality Act 2010, then please don’t hesitate to either contact RMS and we would be happy to pass on your details or contact ESL Directly.