Lifts and Legislation

The Disability and Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA)

The DDA was the first of its kind to call for gradual improvements in the way that the owners and property managers of public buildings achieve equal access for all members of the public.

The Act was introduced in 1996 and had three successive stages of implementation:

  • Stage 1
    • Dec 1996 - Recognise overall problem
  • Stage 2
    • Oct 1999 - Start making reasonable adjustments
  • Stage 3
    • Oct 2004 - Need to comply

Those buildings that need to comply include:

  • Offices
  • Restaurants
  • Public Buildings
  • Retail Outlets
  • Leisure Facilities
  • Educational establishments

Improvements to access to upper floor levels, multi-levelled surfaces, and items that may be too high to reach for the wheelchair user, are all examples of issues that need to be addressed.

It is the duty of the service provider to remedy the situation, ie.:

  • Remove the feature
  • Alter it so it no longer has that effect or
  • Provide a reasonable alternative method of making the service in question available to a disabled person

Part M of Schedule 1 to the Building Regulations 2000 - The Approved Document, effective 1 May 2004

Part M will be met by making reasonable provision to ensure that buildings are accessible and usable. People, regardless of disability, age or gender, should be able to gain access to buildings and to gain access within buildings and use their facilities, both as visitors and as people who live or work in them.

Application of Part M
The requirements apply if:

  • a non-domestic building or a dwelling is newly erected
  • an existing non-domestic buidling is extended or undergoes a material alteration or
  • an existing building or part of an existing building undergoes a material change of use to a hotel or boarding house, institution, public building or shop

Provision of lifting devices
Requirements will be satisfied for new developments and existing buildings 'if a passenger lift cannot be accommodated to provide access to persons with impaired mobility, they have a lifting platform, of a type designed for the vertical height to be travelled'.

BS 8300:2001 - Design of buildings and their approaches to meet the needs of disabled people.

The introduction of BS 8300:2001 gathers all the relevant standards under one 'umbrella' to ensure that every aspect of disability is taken into account in building design.

8.4 Lifts
Lifts are an essential amenity for disabled people in multi-storey buildings. Lifts may be conventional passenger lifts, platform lifts or stair lifts -

Platform lifts: meaning vertical platform lifts and platform stair lifts that travel on the side of a stairway.

Stair lifts: meaning a single person chair that travels on the side of a stairway, from hereon referred to as Chair lifts.

Traditionally passenger lifts have been installed in multi-storey buildings.

However, since the introduction of the DDA and the requirement to provide access for all visitors to public buildings, the use of platform lifts has helped meet the requirements for disabled access. In exceptional circumstances a chair lift may be included in a public building, but only if it constitutes the only means of travelling over two floors.

8.4.1. Provision of lifts
A conventional passenger lift should be the preferred option to provide comprehensive access for all users to levels in a building. However, in existing buildings where access to such a lift is not possible, a platform lift should be provided as an alternative option. If neither of the other types of lift can be installed a chair lift could be chosen as the final option for existing public buildings.

It is imperative that lifts are installed 'fit for purpose'. A responsible advisor should help you look at the current and likely future uses of the building and the short and long-term costs of installing the optimum lift to meet everyone's needs. An example of this might be a school that can meet the needs of one disabled pupil by having all the services they need to access on the ground floor. As the school becomes popular the number of pupils with special needs grows and services can no longer be restricted to one floor. A vertical platform lift would solve an immediate problem, but within months of installation the head teacher wishes a passenger lift had been installed to meet all their current and future requirements.

Once the correct lift for the purpose has been chosen, the detail of how a range of disabled people might use the lift needs to be carefully addressed.

8.4.2. & 8.4.3 Access to lifts
In the past the needs of many disabled people have been overlooked and life has been made unnecessarily difficult. BS 8300 will make us all more aware of ways in which building design can be 'inclusive' in a very considered way. The Standard looks at every aspect of approaching, using and exiting lifts with every type of disability considered.

Signage, both when entering and exiting the lift. All visual indicators and lift call buttons need to be visible and usable by passengers in both standing or seated positions.

Lighting needs to enhance accessibility and the lighting itself needs to ensure people with visual impairment are catered for.

Audible Announcements within the lift car and on landings are required for both visually and audibly impaired people.

Call buttons should have symbols in relief to enable Tactile Reading.

Car floors and ramps should feature slip-resistant materials to reduce the risk of falling.

Areas of glass in the lift should be easily identifiable to those with impaired vision.

Handrails may need to be provided for ambulant disabled people, these may be particularly needed on landing areas at the foot or head of a ramp.

Emergency communication systems
Passenger lifts should be fitted with an emergency communication system that should incorporate an induction coupler for the benefit of those using hearing aids. A visual indicator should also be incorporated to confirm that an emergency call has been received.

Vertical platform lifts should be fitted with audible alarm.

Platform stair lifts (most suitable stair lift for people using a wheelchair) should also be fitted with an audible alarm.

Chair lifts in a public building should, ideally, be positioned within the view of a reception area and fitted with an alarm, in case a user gets into difficulties.

If a platform stair lift or chair lift is fitted in a building with a single stairway it must not reduce the width of that stairway beyond the minimum width for pedestrian escape.


The above information was collected from the following sources:

Last updated: 20.11.2009   © Copyright reserved    Website design: Digital Accessibility Team