This guide describes best practice guidelines on physical access to environments, as well as useful contacts who can provide specialist advice on accessibility issues. Physical access is not just about wheelchair access but refers to improving access for people with a range of impairments.
Information updated November 2019. Please note that information may be subject to change. All information is provided in good faith but Disability Information Scotland does not endorse any product or service referred to within this resource.
Removing barriers, enabling change
The Access Guides provide technical information and best practice guidelines on accessible design. The guides have been produced in partnership with the Glasgow Centre for Inclusive Living (GCIL).
Duty to make reasonable adjustments
Under the Equality Act 2010, employers, service providers and education providers have to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people in three circumstances, one of which is to Change a Physical Feature. Sometimes a physical feature of a building or other premises may make it more difficult for you to access or use it.
Examples of reasonable adjustments to this could include:
- providing ramps and stairway lifts
- making doorways wider
- installing automatic doors
- providing more lighting and clearer signs.
For more information on the Equality Act 2010, please see our Equality Act information guide or contact our helpline on 0300 323 9961.
If you feel that you have been discriminated against, you can call the Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS) on 0808 800 0082.
You can find useful information about discrimination on the European Human Rights Commission website.
Where can I get advice on physical access issues?
A good first step is to contact your local access panel. Access panels are groups of volunteers who work together to improve physical access and wider social inclusion in their local communities. You can find your local access panel by visiting the Access Network website.
If you wanted to arrange an access audit, you can search the National Register of Access Consultants (NRAC). This is an independent register of accredited Access Auditors and Access Consultants who meet professional standards.
The Centre for Accessible Environments is the leading UK authority on inclusive design. They provide consultancy, training, research and publications on building design and management to meet all user needs, including disabled and older people. They have a range of publications on their website and a Frequently Asked Questions section. If you can’t find the information you are looking for you can email them on firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 020 7822 8232.
Disabled access venues
The following websites provide access information on venues in the UK. This can help to plan trips out and holidays.
Euan’s Guide is a website that features disabled access reviews from disabled people and their friends and families. You can use the website to search for listings and reviews of venues across the UK and beyond. Listings include information about accessible toilets, wheelchair access, hearing loops and multiple other access features that exist at any one particular venue.
AccessAble is an online information service providing detailed access information to 1000’s of venues across the UK and Ireland. Covering everything from restaurants, hotels and tourist attractions to doctors, dentists, colleges, universities and hospitals.
Good Access Guide is an online directory you can use to search for accessible holiday accommodation in the UK and Ireland. You can also use it to search for companies providing Independent Living Aids such mobility aids, wheelchairs and walkers. (Please note the Independent Living Aids information is limited mostly to England at the moment).
Tourism for All is a website you can use to find accessible destinations, accommodation, attractions and events across Britain.
For further information about holidays, see our Accessible Holidays Information Guide
For information on accessible toilets, see our Accessible Toilets Information Guide
Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland (MACS) provide advice to Scottish Ministers on the planning and regulating of transport facilities to ensure that they are accessible for those with a disability.
MACS has no staff but is supported by a Secretariat within Transport Scotland.
The Access Panel Network are groups of volunteers who work together to improve physical access and wider social inclusion in their local communities. They are supported by Disability Equality Scotland.
Information last updated on 5 June 2020. Please note that information may be subject to change. All information is provided in good faith but Disability Information Scotland does not endorse any product or service referred to within this resource.
If you would like this information guide in another version then please contact us and we will post or email you a copy.
Access & Accessibility:Frequently Asked Questions
Through our helpline we receive enquiries spanning a wide range of different topics. Here is a selection of those most asked:
Can I use my Blue Badge in Europe?
The Blue Badge scheme is for drivers or passengers with severe mobility problems. The scheme provides a range of on-street parking concessions enabling Blue Badge holders to park closer to where they need to go. The scheme operates throughout the UK and is managed by local authorities who deal with applications and issue badge. The Blue Badge is recognised across Europe, so you benefit from the same parking rights as anyone else with a disability in whichever country you’re in.
Parking concessions for holders of a disabled parking card differ from country to country, so it’s important to check the rules in the country you’re visiting
For further information check out the worldwide guide to parking abroad by The International Automobile Federation.
How can I search for accessible places to visit in Scotland?
Whether you are planning a meal out, a weekend trip or day out to one of Scotland’s parks, there are websites and ‘apps’ that you can use in your search for an accessible venue or activity.
Euan’s Guide is a disabled access review website and app that aims to ‘remove the fear of the unknown’ and inspire people to try new places.
Age Scotland have developed a mini-guide on accessible days out in Britain. Check out the Great British accessible attractions mini-guide.
OpenBritain is your website that provides information on accessible tourism in the UK and includes day trips and tourist attractions.
Disabled Go provide access information on venues across the UK and Ireland.
For more information on accessible places to visit in Scotland search our Scottish Disability Directory and select the ‘Holidays/Respite’ category.
How can I get a RADAR key?
The National Key Scheme (NKS), often referred to as RADAR keys, offer disabled people independent access to locked public accessible toilets around the country. You can buy from Disability Rights UK either over the phone or through their website. Additionally, most local authorities have one-stop-shops or local charities that you can get them from. You will need to provide proof of your disability when buying one.
For a list of locations where you can buy a RADAR key local to you, see our list of RADAR key retailers.
Call the Disability Information Scotland helpline on: 0300 323 9961
Access & Accessibility:Search for Local Organisations
Our quick search tool can connect you to over 3000 service providers, suppliers and organisations supporting people across Scotland. To find support near you, simply enter your search term and select your local authority.