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Braille/Tactile Signage & The DDA

Braille/Tactile Signage & The DDA

At the end of 2004 the scope of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA - 1995) was extended such that all businesses which are frequented by the Public (i.e. pubs, shops, restaurants, hotels etc), or who employ disabled Staff, should now consider how their services are accessed. There has been a revolving program of revisions to the act all of which are designed to enhance disabled rights. The Act makes it unlawful for a Service Provider to discriminate against a person with disabilities. Part II of the act sets out the requirements of the employee whilst Part III sets out how Service Providers must cater for those with disabilities.

This guide does not set out to explain the detail behind the regulations and how they affect individual businesses (the detail can be found at www.direct.gov.uk/DisabledPeople/fs/en in the Rights and Obligations section). At nominal cost we can arrange for you to have an Access Audit which identifies areas in need of attention in order to comply with the legislation.

The thrust of Part III of the act is to ensure that businesses make reasonable adjustments to ensure that their services can be accessed. Signage is very much a part of the legislation and for a nominal investment business owners can make some simple changes which will make a significant improvement for their Service users.

With over ten million disabled people in the UK with an annual spending power of £80 billion a year this community has a significant largely untapped disposable income. With their friends, partners, colleagues and relations around a quarter of the UK population have links with the disabled community. There is an unquantified and mostly unseen marketing opportunity for companies who embrace this legislation. Compliance with the Act could well generate incremental income over and above their competitors.

At Austin Luce we can provide you with a full range of signage that will satisfy the legislation and enhance the profile of your business at the same time. Our signs have also been checked by and approved by the RNIB. Braille and tactile signs are regarded as a 'reasonable adjustment' and they also fulfil a function as an auxiliary aid. These should be installed in shared resource areas such as toilets, lifts, public telephones, and both exit and entrance portals. Additionally directional boards and directional signs will benefit with the use DDA approved signage.

The colour of the signs also has an impact on it's readability, particularly to the visually impaired. High contrast colours should be used where possible. For example white text against a blue background gives a strong contrast. The addition of a white border plus illumination further enhances readability. Avoid gloss finishes which in certain lighting conditions can create a glare. Illuminating signs are very distinctive and stylish and we are able to access LED illuminating signs which are highly visible and cutting edge design.

The font you use also should be considered. The use of italics or capital letters throughout should be avoided where possible. The size of the font and the positioning of the sign should also be carefully considered. Furthermore consider the use of pictograms or symbols. It is widely acknowledged that these can enhance your message to all Service users as they can often be more easily discernable than text alone.

The final thought to leave you is to highlight the possible ramifications of non-compliance. The Disability Rights Commission (DRC) have recently stated that they will 'vigourously pursue offenders through the courts'. They have received over 1,500 complaints since October 2004 and the number of complaints continues to rise. In some recent cases where the legislation has been enforced heavy financial penalties, which can average £9,500, have been imposed. Damages relating to 'injury to feelings' can also be awarded. These are significant and can average £3,400.

The extract opposite from Property Direct serves to illustrate this point:

Attitudes by the DRC are hardening towards companies who fail to comply. With the introduction of this legislation 10 years ago the DRC state "to be doing very little for disabled people is no longer an option. Businesses have had 10 years to comply".

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