Pharmacies in Germany must offer ‘barrier-free’ access to people with disabilities

All pharmacies in Germany must offer “barrier free” access so that people with disabilities can enter them without outside help, according to a new ruling from the Düsseldorf Administrative Court.

Pharmacies in Germany must offer 'barrier-free' access to people with disabilities
An entrance to this pharmacy is not possible without outside help. Photo: Peter Reichert, BSK

Disability advocates consider the ruling a victory which positions them well to champion better access at other service providers, particularly in the medical industry, said the Bundesverband Selbsthilfe Körperbehinderter (Association for the self-assistance of people with physical disabilities, or BSK) in a statement.

The case came about when a pharmacy owner – complaining about current operating regulations – said that a five centimetre barrier between the pavement and the entrance was enough for a person with a physical disability to cross. Yet the court struck down his argument on Tuesday.

“In its ruling, the Administrative Court clarified that “barrier-free” [as its referred in current regulations] basically requires that steps, thresholds and other obstacles be removed so that people with a wheelchair can enter without assistance,” Dunja Fuhrmann, of the BSK in Saarland, told The Local.

“A step – no matter what the difference in height – can be an obstacle for many people dependent on a wheelchair, but also for people with other physical disabilities, which cannot be overcome without help,” said the BSK in a statement.

READ ALSO: At last: Germany passes major disabled rights reform

Previously “well-intentioned suggestions” such as a mobile ramp in combination with a radio bell at the entrance, or the assistance of the staff, are not enough, they added.

The BSK is also advocating for improvement in other infrastructural issues, such as better access on long distance buses and in tourist attractions, in addition to daily services including post offices.

Post offices are another daily service which can pose barriers for people with physical disabilities in Germany. Photo: Peter Reichert, BSK

The German parliament (Bundestag) in 2016 passed comprehensive reform legislation to expand rights for the 7.6 million people who live with severe disabilities in Germany.

Most of them (61 percent) had physical disabilities, such as internal organ problems (25 percent), reduced arm or leg functioning (13 percent), back problems (12 percent), or visual impairment such as blindness (5 percent).

The 400-page legislation includes such measures as simplifying the application process for disability benefits, and allowing benefit recipients to save more of their own money.

What do you think that Germany can do to improve its access for people with physical disabilities? Let us know in the comments or email us

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Why an ‘old’ man is taking on German nightclubs’ door policies in court

Bouncers at German nightclubs are legendary for their reluctance to let too many people through the door. A Munich man is now taking one club to court for turning him away based on his age.

Why an ‘old’ man is taking on German nightclubs' door policies in court
Inside a night club in Berlin. Photo: DPA

In a case that could have an impact on clubs up and down the country, 47-year-old Nils Kratzer is challenging a nightclub’s door policy in the Federal Court in Karlsruhe on Thursday, arguing that a bouncer’s decision to turn him away at the door was discriminatory.

The incident occurred when Kratzer tried to get into an open air club night on the Praterinsel, a small island on the river Isar in Munich in 2017.

“I’ve never had anyone tell me to my face that I’m too old for a festival,” Kratzer said before the hearing. “On the contrary, I’ve often gone to festivals nationwide with my friends in the past and all ages have been represented.”

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The club makes no bones about the fact that it told its bouncers to discriminate at the door, but argues that this was based on “optics” and not on age. It argues that, given that there was only space for 1,500 guests, it needed to discriminate on some grounds.

If Kratzer were to win the case, which he is basing on anti-discrimination laws introduced in 2006, it would force all German night clubs to review their door policies, as a ruling by a federal court sets a legal precedent.

But Kratzer has already failed to convince a Munich city court and a Bavarian state court of his case. At the Munich city court, he called his younger girlfriend to testify in order to establish his youthfulness.

Nils Kratzer. Photo: DPA

He also complained that Munich clubs have a culture of discrimination at their doors, saying one had turned him away for being a man, while he had also witnessed people being turned away based on their skin colour.

“Not all unequal treatment is discrimination,” argues Sandra Warden from the German Hotel and Restaurant Association. “Event organisers are free to decide whom they let in. The host’s right to decide is protected in our country.”

Warden said that clubs often discriminate based on age, such as at Ü-30 parties, ones where only people over the age of 30 are allowed to enter.

READ ALSO: German court declares techno to be music