The UK’s public venues need to work harder on accessibility or risk losing out, finds disability charity’s studies.
As the UK’s disabled people are encouraged to visit public venues during Disabled Access Day (17 Jan), national disability charity Revitalise’s own research has revealed that many are still falling short when it comes to full accessibility.
Two separate studies by Revitalise have highlighted the scale of the problem. The charity’s study of the UK’s most visited tourist attractions found that nearly two thirds of venues (64%) were not 100% accessible for wheelchair users, while a survey of disabled shoppers revealed that 8 out of 10 disabled people and carers (84%) had experienced problems with the accessibility of major high street stores.
Revitalise is a charity providing respite holiday breaks for disabled people and carers at three UK centres, with accessible excursions to regional visitor attractions as an integral part of the charity’s provision.
In other findings, Revitalise found that 3 out of 10 (27%) of the UK’s leading tourist attractions did not have essential accessibility information on their websites and only 17% had all their staff trained in disability awareness.
The situation is not much better on the high street, Revitalise found. Over half (55%) of the disabled shoppers surveyed said they had been subjected to negative or unwelcoming treatment from shop staff and 7 out of 10 (69%) felt little or no security when paying for items at non-lowered shop counters with fixed chip & PIN machines.
Just as disabled people are being encouraged to visit public venues on Disabled Access Day, the Revitalise studies have revealed that 65% of disabled people have decided against visiting a tourist attraction and 69% had been dissuaded from visiting their local high street stores due to accessibility concerns or a lack of information.
As a consequence, Revitalise is warning that many of the UK’s public venues and retail outlets could be missing out on their share of the estimated £212 billion* annual spending power of disabled visitors – the so-called ‘Purple Pound’.
In the light of its research, Revitalise is calling for more effort on the part of public venues of all descriptions to become more accessible and provide easier access to key accessibility information online, in order to ease the worries of people with disabilities – or risk losing out.
Commenting on the charity’s survey findings, Revitalise Chief Executive Chris Simmonds said:
“Revitalise welcomes this great initiative by our friends at the charity Euan’s Guide to encourage disabled people to visit public venues on Disabled Access Day.
“We routinely take our guests on excursions and shopping trips up and down the country, so the accessibility of public venues is an issue that’s very close to our hearts.
“But our research proves that all too often disabled people are held back by a lack of access. We think this needs to change. Disabled people have every right to expect the same choices and opportunities as everyone else.
“There’s not just a moral imperative here, there’s a financial one too. By not making themselves accessible enough, public venues may be losing out on their share of the huge annual spending power of disabled visitors. Can they really afford to do that?
“That’s why Revitalise is urging public venues of all descriptions to work harder to make themselves more accessible and provide better accessibility information online.”