High street shop

 Brass handrails at the British Library in London. Note that this building predates current regulations regarding stairs, landings and ramps!

Brass handrails at the British Library in London. Note that this building predates current regulations regarding stairs, landings and ramps!

Having my watch strap replaced at a high street jewellers yesterday turned into a mini - access consultation with the owner.  He was aware that he should do something about the three high steps to the till area and additional jewellery displays but was not sure what or why.

We discussed the idea of adding a pair of handrails and how helpful this would be to many customers. I could tell by his face that he wasn't keen on the idea. This turned out to be because he imagined support rails like you find in hospital toilets: not at all fitting for his elegant shop.

The example above is a brass handrail at the British Library, where those on the main stair are bound in leather. As long as they're sturdy and designed to assist people handrails can be as elegant as the building they're in.

Moving the till and counter to the lower (entrance level) would also be a significant improvement that would mean no more 'special treatment' for customers who couldn't use the steps to reach the counter.

I suggested that he had a look at the guidance for service providers on the Equality and Human Rights Commission website. (The guidance on this page is currently being updated). It also reminded me of Unity Law's excellent talk at the National Register of Access Consultants Autumn Conference last week.