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Thread: Is This Discrimination?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Sky's Avatar
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    Is This Discrimination?

    Last December I was lucky enough to get a flat in a new development for the over 55s and disabled. It's a new idea and is the first of its kind in the UK (an experiment) - like a cross between a care home and assisted housing with full-time staff.

    As I use a wheelchair, I got a ground floor flat with a wet-room. The flat is wonderful and I consider myself very lucky to have it - it took well over ten years of fighting with 'officialdom' to get social housing having lost my house in a split with the ex.

    Anyway, to the point of this post:

    Before I accepted tenancy, I was assured there was a door to the outside within a few yards of the door to my flat. I never got to see the flat before I moved in - just some photos. Sure enough, there is a door and it has a door-entry system etc. which is great. However, it is very heavy to open even for an able-bodied person, but impossible for a wheelchair user to open from the outside as it is at the top of a ramp and the door opens outward.

    I can exit the building via this door, but to get back into the building I have to go around to the front entrance (up a steep hill) and in through Reception where the doors are automatic. Then I have to use a very small lift (I use a powerchair, so hardly big enough) to get back down to my flat. This forces me to mix with others when I have spent the last fifteen months self-isolating because of vulnerability (I have breathing issues too).

    I think that door should be powered like the ones at the front of the building - especially as most people on this floor have serious mobility issues and can't use the door if they use a walker or a wheelchair. However, the designers/builders insist they only need to provide the powered door in Reception.

    As it's only able-bodied people that can use this door, I consider this as discriminatory and as it's on the floor that's full of 'raspberries' we should all have equal use of it.

    Am I wrong?
    Last edited by Sky; 13-05-21 at 16:21.

  2. #2
    Senior Member nukecad's Avatar
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    It's not discrimination.

    It may possibly be poor design, depending on what it was designed to be.

    If it's designed to be primarily a fire/emergency exit then it's not important for it to be easily opened from outside as long as you can get out in an emergency.

    From your description and it being 'heavy' then it does sound as if it probably is a fire rated emergency door, just one that has coded access from the outside rather than being permanently closed from outside.
    We used to have coded and keyed fire doors in the pub/hotel where I lived so that we could open them from outside if/when needed.

    Does it have a 'crash-bar/panic-bar' on the inside?
    They are not mandatory if the door is easily opened (not locked) from the inside, but if it does have one then that's another clear indication that it's primarily an emergency door that can also be used for access from outside.
    Does it have an emergency light above the door and signage?

    It may well be that nobody is supposed to use it except in an emergency, but if you've ever had a property with emergency exits you'll know that gets abused and people will wedge them open so they can get in from outside.
    It's usually better to allow limited coded/keyed access from outside rather that have people wedging the emergency exits open.

    You can ask your landlord/site manager about it; but I fully expect that you will be told it's an emergency door and not meant to be an entrance door for general use.
    Last edited by nukecad; 14-05-21 at 09:55.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Sky's Avatar
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    Hi Nuke, thanks for your comments.

    It's a main door, not a fire exit. It is designed and fitted as a main door and is meant to be used as one. However, only able-bodied people can use it - on a floor that is meant for disabled people and wheelchair users. This is why I think it could be classed as discriminatory.

    To open it from the inside, you just press an 'open' button that releases a relay-lock, then you push it open. The only way I can open it, is to push it with my legs using the power of my wheelchair (if I were paralysed it would be impossible) - I'd never manage it in a manual chair. The others with manual chairs, walkers, crutches and sticks can't manage it either.

    The fire exits are on all four corners of the building at the bottom of the stairwells and are the typical 'push-bar in emergency' style exit only doors.

    The manager is trying her best to get it changed and has been trying to do so since before any tenants moved in. She is well aware it is unsuitable for purpose and is fighting our case for us. Initially, even the main entrance at Reception didn't have an electric one, but she succeeded in getting that one changed.

    My hope is that if it could be classed as discriminatory, the builders would have to change it.

  4. #4
    Senior Member nukecad's Avatar
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    Mmm, I still don't think that it can be classed as discriminatory.

    For it to be discrimination you have to be put at a disadvantage by being treated differently.
    You are at a disadvantage, but are being treated the same as everyone else so it's a tricky one.

    It's good that the manager is on your side that it's unsuitable and is also pushing for it to be made automatic opening.
    (Even my chemists has retrofitted a push button automatic opener on their door).

    A suggestion:
    This is a new purpose built building, specifically for the disabled/infirm, hopefully opened with some fanfare and maybe even a staged ribbon cutting to give local press publicity to the builders/managment company/council - But where the disabled/infirm residents are unable to easily open the entrance doors and get in?

    Your local newspaper will love a story like that, and a bit of adverse press for the builders/owners/council can work wonders at getting things done.
    Even better if there are a number of residents with the same problem/compliant.
    If there was a grand opening you could even contact the reporter that wrote that up, their name will be on the article and the papers website will have their reporters contact details.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Sky's Avatar
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    LOL! You think like I do Nuke. Going to the local newspaper was going to be my next tactic if it becomes necessary.

    The manager called in to see me this morning to give the latest news and has told me that the builders still can't see that it's a problem because people can still use the main entrance in Reception. So they are effectively 'forcing' people with serious mobility issues to travel the extra distances involved to get up on to the next floor to use the main Reception door.

    In addition to my door issues, the people on the other side of the building have the car park right outside their windows, but there is no door to access it. They too, have to go up a floor and in/out through main reception to get to their vehicle that is just a few feet away from their flat and then travel the extra distance back to the car park.

    This new facility is making it harder for us rather than easier, which I think is bloody disgraceful.

    Anyway, the bottom line is that the manager is going to go back to them once again to try and force them to change their policy. If this fails, then I will most definitely get the local press/newspaper getting involved.

  6. #6
    Senior Member gus607's Avatar
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    Where we live there are flats for over 55s with disabilities some redidents who may require extra care with the other flats for over 60s without disabilities, around here it is called Independent Living. It has been in these flats since 1985 so your flats are not unique in this respect.
    All external doors here are powered with door controls lowered to enable wheelchair users ease of use.
    I don't think there is discrimination in your flats just poor planning.

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