North Ayrshire Access Panel (NAAP) has recently been in discussions on the design of the service counter at a new Costa coffee shop. Some modifications were proposed, and subsequently rejected, to the standard counter which included a pull-out tray or surface. We are of the opinion that Costa should design a counter with an integrated knee recess and lowered section in accordance with the standards.
We realised the pull-out tray would cause a wheelchair user to obstruct the entire 1600 mm wide thoroughfare. This could easily lead to embarrassment of a disabled customer while they wait to be served. We also thought that the depth of the counter, 575 mm, would be impractical for staff to stretch over and safely place items on the extended tray. Also, who would return the tray to its recessed position, this would be a temporary safety hazard for anyone, especially children going past it.
We had a similar situation with applications previously from KFC and others. They have tried to get round redesigning their counters by saying that staff will bring anything to the tables for disabled customers. This will be helpful for some people, but what happens when it is busy and staff are not available.
We believe that it’s time for the multinational companies especially should be designing a totally inclusive counter from scratch to be included in their template layouts. Using different architect companies to make building and planning applications can lead to having different designs at each individual premises.
We hope that every access panel makes sure that dropped counters for disabled customers are probably installed and that they adhere to the building standards. We recently did an access audit of Largs, covering the main streets only noting access to shops, pavement surfaces and dropped kerbs. We have a meeting planned with a Transerv representative to highlight the issues we found and have them addressed. This information will be put on our website in due course http://www.naap.org.uk/