Since January 2017, every public place should be accessible to wheelchair users. This is reflected in a bill from the Dutch Lower House. Great news. Improving access for immobile persons is a topic that has been discussed for many years. Wheelchair users often encounter problems when entering hotels, shops or other public buildings.
The amendment is a step in the right direction. However, the evacuation of wheelchair users still raises many questions. The following cartoon displays an exemplary situation. A wheelchair user is on the fourth floor of a shopping centre. A fire breaks out. The lift cannot be used because the power has been cut off. How do you handle this situation? How will the wheelchair user be able to escape from the building? Who brings that person to safety? These are just a few questions that average wheelchair users encounter when faced with an emergency evacuation. In the Netherlands, there are about 3.5 million disabled people of which are 150,000 are wheelchair users; a rather steep amount. In the UK, there are currently around 1.2 million wheelchair users. In Singapore, there are about 100.000 people in a wheelchair. The evacuation problem should therefore not be underestimated.
With this in mind, we made the above cartoon. Thus, it should be clear at a glance what problems wheelchair users may encounter in case of a fire or other emergency. And the solution is also obvious.