‘Wheelchair Accessible’ means nothing to someone who has loss of hearing or sight, or cognitive issues – it also prompts questions from wheelchair users as a manual wheelchair is very different to a motorised version. So what is the best way to show access information? How easy is it to create access for all? Here are the top 5 things you need to know about disabled people and their access needs – they’re not difficult or expensive to implement!!!!!!!

Here are 5 things to consider regarding accessibility:

1. Did you know that the Disability Discrimination Act came into law 25 years ago and it’s 10 years since the Equality Act superseded it. Both these laws state that any business that rents, leases or uses an inaccessible venue is breaking the law. There is the ‘reasonable adjustment’ get out but why would you want to exclude a loyal market worth £250BN in UK and $1Tr globally. Don’t forget every disabled person has friends and family and they won’t visit an inaccessible venue either! 75% of people walk away from shops and businesses that are inaccessible. Known as the purple £ this video explains what you may be missing out on……….. a loyal market with pent up demand…..a sellers dream!?? The time of COVID is surely an opportunity to ready your business for the Purple £.

2. Ramps – Wheelchairs find steps over 3″ in height impossible to get over. A manual wheelchair can be lifted but not an electric version. Any step can be an insurmountable obstacle for people walking with a limp, prosthetics or a stick not to mention a trip hazard for those partially sighted. A small ramp can be made or purchased for less than £70. Not all accessibility issues involve huge costs. NB make sure your staff know where a ramp is stored, there’s nothing worse or more embarrassing than waiting in the cold while staff scramble to find one.

3. A common bug bear is lack of accessible toilets. Did you know that building regulations state that unisex accessible toilets should be built if there’s not enough room for mens, ladies & a disabled toilet? Also FYI a large room does not make it an accessible toilet. It needs a sink within reach of the toilet, an alarm that is reachable from the floor and at least 2 if not 5 grab rails. These again can be purchased from less than £50 each. NB If you have a disabled toilet, don’t use it as a store room and if it’s opened with a key make sure staff know where it’s kept. It’s embarrassing and uncomfortable waiting while a toilet is emptied of all sorts of stuff…..I even found a foldable bed in one toilet!!!??

4. A designated quiet area in a venue will help people with cognitive issues and those with hearing loss. Telling people in advance of what to expect through an Access Gallery on a website helps people with cognitive problems, such as autism, as familiarity reduces their stress.

The Access Gallery at South place Hotel Shows Facilities & Potential Obstacles Through Pointers. Made Up of a Series of Images Depicting the Journey Through The Hotel
The Access Gallery at South place Hotel Shows Facilities & Potential Obstacles Through Pointers. Made Up of a Series of Images Depicting the Journey Through The Hotel

5. Nowhere can be 100% accessible for all but an immediate improvement would be to show the journey through a venue on a website. This is what an Access Gallery does for multiple disabilities and gives you an immediate improvement to your accessibility. Our research showed that 90%of people expected to get this information on a website but only 14% found any.  Remember ‘wheelchair accessible‘ is not enough!! It leads to multiple phone calls and an inefficient use of staff time, while the information given is often inaccurate and can lead to disappointment….as you can see from the images below….

Hopefully this gives food for thought. If you’re disabled and wish to add to this list or if you run a venue and need more advice, please get in touch here. 

We look forward to the next 25 years and a world where being disabled by inaccessibility is a thing of the past.

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