Evacuation Chair Range

Developed by and for Disabled People

A photograph of the Direct Access Evacuation Chair.

Direct Access has recently launched our brand-new Evacuation Chair range. Developed by disabled people, it is the first time that Chairs have been developed with a disabled evacuee in mind.

Established in 2004, Direct Access remains the UK’s leading accessibility consultancy advising organisations on physical access to premises. A key feature of Direct Access’s consultancy work has been regular identification of the need for evacuation equipment to aid in emergencies. Systems are often supplied as a box solution and installed with little consideration of the comfort of the end-user who often must remain within the evacuation equipment until the emergency is over or an alternative wheelchair is obtained. Their normal wheelchair or walking aid is left behind during an evacuation as it is not designed for fast, safe evacuation.

Our Operations Director Steve Dering believes “This leaves both operators and evacuees fearful of using evacuation equipment, and this fear translates into disabled people or expectant mothers not wanting to use evacuation equipment as they do not feel safe or confident in the chair. Training always appears to be around how to use the equipment and fails to advise how an operator can reassure the individual in the chair.”

We believe we have identified a fundamental flaw when it comes to egress, which is to say that there is a lack of equal access when it comes to on-site evacuation equipment, seemingly ignored by most providers. Direct Access is proud to say that we have the knowledge and resources to step up and fill this gap. Our chair has even been featured in leading industry publications such as Tomorrow’s Health and Safety Magazine.

Our Founder Steven Mifsud, who himself is deaf, said “Building owners were informing us they are uncertain of what they need or where to go when considering how to evacuate a building. Disabled people were telling us they did not feel confident about being evacuated. Our evacuation chairs are easily identifiable in their orange and black colours. This is particularly valuable for neurodiverse people who associate orange with the life preservers seen on ships.”

Our chair is the next evolutionary design for evacuating people in emergency situations, with new features and benefits that surpass older models of evacuation chairs left to gather dust in stairwells. Its self-breaking technology gives the operator full control to evacuate at whatever speed is right for them and the passenger. There is also no need for a manual brake, as the chair stops when you want it to. In addition, it can be comfortably operated by a single person even when carrying larger passengers.

We have developed an extensive team of installation and servicing Engineers who have disabilities themselves to roll out this new range, in service of our fundamental mission, creating accessible environments for all.

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