The Gehandicapten Leidschendam-Voorburg (PGLV) platform has investigated how accessible Westfield Mall of the Netherlands is for people with disabilities. Eight volunteers from the platform inspected several places in Westfield Mall using wheelchairs, movable scooters and canes.
Volunteers not only investigated the accessibility of the Netherlands’ Westfield Mall (the mall for short), but also the surrounding area. In addition to shops, facilities such as toilets, elevators, and catering establishments were also included. The findings were compiled in a report submitted to Astrid van Eckelen, an alderman in the municipality of Leidschendam-Vorburg, and Erika van Delft, general manager of the mall.
reasonable for each other
In submitting the report, Willem Bertels, chair of the platform, said the municipality and Westfield arranged access reasonably well. According to him, the examination shows that the shopping center is fairly accessible and that the disabled people can also navigate well within the mall. For example, automatic turnstiles are spacious, accessible for wheelchairs, and reasonably accessible for scooters. Most of the lifts are spacious and easily accessible.
room for improvement
There is room for improvement though. Bertels cites a number of examples from the report. For example, there are not enough bike pens, which means that visitors park their two-wheeled vehicle in the middle of major pedestrian roads. The paving on the northeast side of Weigelia is also insufficient: a deep drainage channel that strands wheelchairs and pedestrians. Another problem is the unclear traffic situations on both ends of Weigelia. In Heuvelweg, for example, it is not clear to blind and visually impaired people where the tram track begins, the sidewalk ends and how the cycle path meanders between them.
At The Mall
The platform notes that inside the mall also has a number of undesirable situations. For example, some lifts are not accessible for people using a wheelchair or scooter. Moreover, there is not even an elevator in many shops. In addition, the toilets for the disabled have some drawbacks: the doors open too hard and there is not enough space for movable scooters. Furthermore, no guide lines were installed inside the mall, possibly for aesthetic reasons. This makes it difficult for the blind and visually impaired to find stairs, elevators, and exits.
Happy with the report
Van Eekelen and Van Delft are pleased to report. They realize that not everything has been arranged perfectly yet. So they suggest using the platform to see the necessary improvements. Moreover, Van Eekelen and Van Delft believe that it would be good if experts from the platform, along with the staff of Westfield Mall in Holland and the municipality, would regularly conduct inspection tours. This is already happening elsewhere in the municipality.
Integration by meeting
The motto of the Leidschendam-Voorburg curriculum for persons with disabilities is: “Inclusion through confrontation”. The platform tries to bring people without disabilities into contact with people with disabilities. In addition to inspection and advice on the accessibility of (public) places, the platform also provides information for primary schools in the municipality.
Photo: PR/Peter Van Beem
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