Let’s make this year The Year of Access

In 2016 there is little excuse for most Pubs, Restaurants, Cafes, Cinemas, Tourist Attractions and Leisure facilities to be inaccessible or unsuitable for wheelchair users, those with mobility difficulties or those with impaired sight or hearing.

The Good Guys

Many large tourist attractions, fast food, restaurant and coffee shop chains, museums, shopping centres and public buildings do provide disabled access, hearing loops, disabled toilets, and large print alternatives.

The Not So Good Guys

The Outdoor Industry I feel has not yet fully embraced the need to offer Adventure and Leisure Pursuits to those with disabilities (I generalise and some are making an effort, a few are very good) – Wake up, these are people with spending power and when we are talking family activities you are turning away not one potential customer but a whole family

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The Hospitality Industry in my opinion is also way behind, while there are some Hotel companies, Restaurant and Pub chains that do make an effort and offer “Disabled Rooms” and other adaptations the majority particularly the independent businesses do seem to completely ignore this part of the market

There are still major Pub chains that do not publish accessibility info for their properties on their websites (yet many have been redeveloped and have had to incorporate accessibility to comply with regulations).

  • Why do I not see Wedding Venues proudly stating they have full disabled facilities?
  • Why do I not see Nightclubs encouraging wheelchair dancing?
  • Why is it so difficult to find a wheelchair accessible hotel room?
  • Why is it that few Nature Reserves have wheelchair access?
  • Why is it Tourist Boards have lists of beaches I can walk a dog on but don’t tell me those accessible by wheelchair users?

Is it perhaps that there is a perception of disability that harks back to the days of The Spastic Society collection boxes of children in callipers, back to a time when it was thought there was no chance of a ‘normal life’ for disabled people.

Surely the 2012 Paralympics should have rectified this. Today disability in its self should not exclude people from ‘normal life’ – there are disabled people flying aeroplanes, racing cars, climbing mountains, disabled military personnel have walked to the North Pole, they can do that but may not be able to get into their local pub for a drink or to eat!

2016 – If you’re business is not disabled accessible / disabled friendly you need to seriously consider what century you are living in.

These are the personal thoughts (or ranting) of Neil Pedley – Publisher of the Accessible Countryside for Everyone website promoting disabled access to sport and leisure www.accessiblecountryside.org.uk

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