As part of its Equality Means Business workstream, the Ministry of Equality hosted a seminar for the private sector on how business premises can be made more accessible in light of the legislative changes that will be coming into force as part of the Disability Act 2017.
Organised by the Ministry for Equality, with the support of the Gibraltar Federation of Small Businesses and the Gibraltar Chamber of Commerce, the seminar explained the forthcoming changes and offered assistance and support to businesses in meeting the requirements of the legislation.
The seminar was opened by the Minister for Equality, Samantha Sacramento, followed by a presentation by Head of Department Jason Belilo who explained the support offered by the Ministry, which includes guidance and tax relief. The main presentation was delivered by Ian Streets from About Access UK. Mr Streets has been contracted by Government on a number of occasions since 2015 to provide advice and training, including consultancy for the Part R Regulations. Mr Streets detailed how businesses can become more inclusive by making some big and small changes.
Sections 13 and 14 of the Disability Act had been paused in 2017 in order to give businesses time to prepare for the legislation. The enactment of these sections was unfortunately further delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The new provisions represent further progress to the introduction of the Part R Regulations in 2017, which required new buildings and works to buildings to be accessible. The enactment of Section 13 and 14 will now also require existing buildings and businesses to be made accessible.
The Minister for Equality, The Hon. Samantha Sacramento MP, said: ‘It is very important for businesses to be inclusive. Businesses that are not accessible are not inclusive, and if they are not inclusive they are turning customers away. Our aim is to continue to provide information, guidance and support, as we have done over the years, before the enactment of the new legislation. We want to inform businesses what they can do to be on the right side of the law, as our aim is not to catch people out but wish that changes are embraced. It is therefore very important that businesses inform themselves of their responsibilities under the legislation and what they can do to make their business inclusive.
‘I’d like to also take this opportunity to also thank the charities who took up our invitation to attend today’s seminar.’
More information on how to make businesses accessible can be found on the Ministry of Equality website: www.gibraltar.gov.gi/department-equality
Information booklets such as Welcoming Customers with Disabilities and Gibraltar Building Rules Approved Document R – Access to and use of Buildings are available on the website and provide guidance. Further documentation will be added shortly.