Public buildings

Under the revised Building Regulations provision has to be made for the physically impaired and those in wheelchairs to negotiate changes of level in public buildings. It is easy to plan for the disabled in new buildings but work has to be undertaken to all existing buildings. This can be carried out in three ways.

• Ramps. This is the easiest if space is available adjacent to the steps. The pitch can be a maximum of 1 in 12 provided it does not exceed 5 m in length, or 1 in 15 over 10 m.

• Hoists. For differences of height where a conventional lift is not required, small hydraulic hoists are produced, whereby a wheelchair is wheeled onto a platform, the guards closed behind and the platform raised to the required height for the chair to be pushed forward. An excellent design is at the Louvre in Paris (Figure 11.9a).

• Stairlifts. Stannah Stairlifts produce chairs which run on guides up the side of the stairs. This means a wheelchair user has to get out of the chair and sit on the seat and is then carried to the top (Figure 11.9b). For very wide stairs the stairlift has been adapted to provide a platform to take a wheelchair (Figure 11.9c).

• Platform lifts. Small single-person electric lifts are now available from Gartec, which do not require a separate lift shaft or machine room, just a 50 mm pit. The overall size is 1600 x 1 375 mm with a rise up to 9 m with a 400 kg load.

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