Building for Equality under the Equality Act – Glazed Partitioning Screens and Doors – Part 1

In a two-part series, we will clarify the relationship between the Equality Act 2010 and Parts M and K of the Building Regulations 2010, and the impact they have on our products and services.
The Equality Act 2010 (which incorporates the Disability Discrimination Act 1995), covers services in the commercial, retail, financial, residential, education, healthcare and transport sectors. As the Equality Act relates to access to services, rather than premises, buildings and products cannot be ‘Equality Act compliant’. Instead, they must comply with the relevant Building Regulations and British and European Standards.

A key Regulation in England and Wales is set out in Approved Document M: Access to and Use of Buildings. It provides minimum requirements to ensure that all people, regardless of disability, age or gender, are able to gain equal access to, and use of, public buildings. It defines, for example, requirements for accessible entrances, doors, reception areas, corridors and passageways, passenger lifts, wheelchair spaces, and provision for toilets and other sanitary facilities.
In this issue, we will focus on how the Regulations give guidance on visibility considerations, when incorporating glass doors and screens within building design.
Section 2.22 states that, “People with visual impairment should be in no doubt as to the location of glass doors, especially when they are within a glazed screen. The choice of a different style of manifestation for the door and the glazed screen can help to differentiate between them.”

Section 2.23 states that, “The presence of the door should be apparent not only when it is shut but also when it is open.”

Section 2.24 confirms that glass doors and glazed screens will satisfy Approved Document M if they comply with Approved Document K (Protection from Falling, Collision and Impact). Section K5.2 states that, “Transparent glazing, with which people are likely to come into contact while moving in or about the building, shall incorporate features which make it apparent”.

First and foremost, it is our responsibility as a company to ensure that we comply with the Regulations on behalf of our clients, so they can be confident that the building is suitable for any person using it, including the visually impaired. Planet do this by using manifestation.

Glass entrance doors and glazed screens will be compliant if:
a) they are clearly defined at two levels (850-1000mm and 1400mm-1600mm above the floor) and contrast visually with the background seen through the glass (both from inside and outside), in all
lighting conditions.
b) in the form of a logo or sign, a minimum of 150mm high (repeated if on a glazed screen), or, if a decorative feature, such as broken lines or continuous bands, a minimum of 50mm high.

Manifestation is an ideal solution and can be a fantastic way to inject personality and branding into commercial spaces. The manifestation can be anything from a traditional frosted film to a coloured vinyl. It is a fast, cost effective route to compliance and can be installed with minimal disruption to a building’s occupants.

Another important aspect to bear in mind is visual contrasts between the ironmongery and the door surfaces and, for doors likely to be kept open (particularly at 90 degrees), a contrasting leading edge should be present. Door frames and architraves should contrast with the adjacent wall colour.

When selecting colours, it is important to appreciate that two colours that contrast sharply to someone with normal vision may be far less distinguishable to someone with a visual impairment. Therefore, the contrast between door surrounds and walls must achieve a certain level – measured by its light reflective value (LRV). LRV is measured on a scale of 0 (perfect absorbing black) to 100 (perfect reflecting white). Generally, a minimum LRV of 30 points applies to adjacent surfaces. The LRV of the door furniture should be 15 points different from that of the door.

Planet’s LOFT panelled glazing is a great alternative to manifestation and our framed doors, IsoPro or IsoTec are a way of complying with the contrast requirements between glazed doors and screens.

Planet is passionate about making our products inclusive and compliant whilst, at the same time, ensuring great aesthetics and high performance are maintained.

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