Original post from Disabled Go News
‘………….by Frances Ryan
Last summer, I planned a few days on the Dorset coast and, via the phone, was told by one hotel receptionist (with great confidence) that their beachfront hotel was “fully accessible” to wheelchairs. Except – when pressed – the spa. Or the outside swimming pool. And part of the restaurant. Oh, and the lift. (Even a lift, it seems, does not have to be accessible for wheelchairs.)
That none of this will be a particular shock to anyone who is disabled, or who has friends or family with a disability, says something about how normalised lack of disabled access is – whether that’s taking as standard the ring-round of 10 hotels before you stumble upon one that’s accessible, or resigning yourself to pulling out of plans with friends because the destination makes going physically impossible.
This week, Visit England, the national tourist board, has launched a new Access for All project – a campaign aiming to improve disabled access to the hotel and tourist attractions in England taking part, from Lincoln Cathedral to the Galleries of Justice in Nottingham and Chatsworth House in Derbyshire.
Other participants include East Lodge Country House Hotel in the Peak District, for example, which has built wheel-in showers in accessible rooms. The Vindolanda Roman Fort, an archeological site by Hadrian’s Wall, among other measures, plans to install a toilet area for assistance dogs. (Sometimes it’s the small things that make a difference.) Because an accessible hotel or tourist attraction means little if you can’t get there, Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach company is providing wheelchair access to 100% of its fleet – offering a wheelchair taxi guarantee if someone cannot get on to the bus – and it is trialling the use of hearing loop systems.
Let’s not understate the scale of the problem. Britain in 2015 is still routinely blocked off from disabled people. This is not isolated to trips away. Many of us have the indignity of being unable to get around the country we call home.
Last year an audit of Britain’s high street found thousands of venues had failed to adapt their premises to make them accessible. A fifth of shops still had no wheelchair access, only 15% of restaurants and shops had hearing loops and three quarters of restaurants didn’t cater for people with visual impairments. Only 4% of the national retailers asked for more information even bothered to respond.
Perhaps all this seems trivial but, for disabled people, venues making changes is the difference between being a citizen able to enjoy what’s around you like anyone else and being told – with all the subtlety of a flight of steps – it is not for you. It is what I would call daily exclusion, engrained in a series of routine inequalities.
How can we encourage others to follow VisitEngland’s lead? If a business isn’t convinced by the ethics alone, cold hard pragmatism should do it. There are 12 million disabled people in Britain, with an estimated spending power of £200bn. The overnight accessible tourism market is now worth £3bn, with day visits bringing that figure up to £12.1bn, according to Visit England research.
Because that Dorset hotel wasn’t willing to provide me with the services they would for someone who wasn’t disabled, I didn’t make a booking – and instead chose to take my money somewhere else. Projects such as Access for All act as victories for anyone discarded by a hotel, a bus, or a tourist spot. Like all inequalities, the biggest impact for disabled people of what are seemingly little bits of progress is in the message it sends all of us: how things are is not how things have to be.
Read the full article online: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/sep/16/disabled-people-shut-out-britain-tourist-attractions
Online Accessibility Information
Did you know that DisabledGo provides accessibility information for over 125,000 venues including hotels, restaurants, shops, tourist attractions and much more?
Every single venue on www.disabledgo.com has been visited and assessed in person by a highly trained DisabledGo surveyor, so you can be confident in the information we publish.
Click here to start searching for accessible places to go