The importance of ensuring that residences are accessible for everyone cannot be understated. Making adaptations to homes – whether it be stairlifts, ramps or hands-free door entry devices – gives all residents more independence, confidence and the dignity to go about their daily lives with ease. However, according to the English Housing Survey, 56% of affordable housing does not have the adaptations that residents require – and 21% of disabled tenants say their accommodation is unsuitable for their needs.
Introducing user-friendly, technology-driven door entry solutions to residences is just one way to make a tangible difference to multi-dwelling blocks. Here, we explain how wireless, GSM-based intercoms can boost accessibility, with innovative features that make access control more seamless for residents of all ages and abilities.
Access control is a great place to start making positive changes to a building’s usability – and door entry devices have come a long way in recent years. The latest intercoms are powered by GSM, or the ‘Global System for Mobile Communications’, the same technology used to power mobile phones. As a completely wireless, digital system, GSM makes traditional wired intercoms with clunky plastic handsets redundant. Instead, residents can answer the door via a landline or their preferred digital device, like a smartphone or tablet. With residents able to grant property access from anywhere, these innovative wireless systems are ideal for those with mobility issues.
Some access control systems have additional features that enhance the door entry experience even further. Intratone’s wireless SC-03 intercom, for example, allows housing managers to add shortcodes for visitors like healthcare professionals, so not only is essential access made easier but there are minimal disturbances to residents day-to-day. Thanks to its pinhole video camera, tenants can also have peace of mind that their building is secure, as they can check who is at the door before granting entry. Plus, the SC-03’s full-colour screen and dynamic animations ensure that visitors’ experience is made easy and engaging too.
Modern access control systems also have a variety of communication aids that enhance usability for residents and their visitors. For the visually impaired, for example, devices with backlighting help users to locate and maintain visual attention, especially compared to more muted varieties. Intercoms with yellow rings around the buttons provide a sharper contrast for visitors with reduced vision, while braille enables them to understand which button is which.
Audio induction loops are a handy feature, too, for those with hearing impairments. By wirelessly transmitting sound from the intercom to a person’s hearing aid, communication is made easier for visitors and tenants with deafness or hearing loss. Compatible hearing aid users can tune in by switching to the T (Telecoil) setting, enabling them to pick up an audio signal from the intercom. This allows them to cut out unwanted background noise and improves audio quality significantly – without needing a receiver or handset.
Housing professionals can also opt for wireless intercom systems with direct dialling. Unlike scrolling intercoms, where users must search manually through every entry on the panel, a direct dial function makes it easier and faster to reach the tenant in question. For this reason, direct dial intercoms are an ideal addition for large blocks with many more units than standard scrolling intercoms.
Open to all
Within the affordable housing sector, the focus on accessibility will only increase over the coming months and years. As such, it has never been a better time for installers to expand their portfolio to include the latest wireless access control systems. GSM-powered intercoms, like Intratone’s wireless SC-03, not only provide more flexibility for residents to answer the door wherever they are, but they include innovative features that can enhance communication and boost building security. Implementing accessible intercoms is a straightforward and cost-effective way for housing managers to embrace inclusivity and make the tenant experience as seamless as possible – for everyone.
 English Housing Survey, Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, 2021