It is 2017 and still, disabled people face a number of access barriers when visiting public places such as restaurants, museums, sports venues etc. Did you know 95 per cent of disabled people research a venue’s accessibility before visiting*?
We still have a way to go
Disabled Access Day is a day to celebrate good access. I still believe we are not there yet and have a way to go, but it’s great to see that many venues, organisations and businesses are getting involved to improve their own accessibility and get more feedback from disabled people.
Friends have shared with me their experiences and I have witnessed others being denied access, with one of the most common excuses being ‘health and safety’.
This happened to me very recently at a well-known establishment in Leicester. The doorman refused entry saying ‘If there was an incident such as a fire, then you wouldn’t be able to get out of the building.’
Access to football clubs
As a sports fan, I was shocked to read an article last year by Jeremy Wilson, Deputy Football Correspondent for the Telegraph. He wrote an article investigating how only three out of 20 Premier League clubs currently meet minimum numbers for wheelchair spaces.
Other clubs have been working towards meeting the pledge by August 2017 but, despite annual turnovers of more than £250 million, two clubs have already indicated that they will not meet the guidelines. I find this very disappointing!
A Leicester man myself, I am proud to say that Leicester is one of three clubs currently meeting minimum numbers for wheelchair spaces.
It is not expensive to make all football grounds wheelchair friendly, but it is up to each club how serious they are about making disabled fans welcome. We all know it is not just football clubs but it is so frustrating to hear that disabled accessibility is not considered as a priority.
Double-checking accessibility is the norm
Unfortunately, it has become the norm for disabled people to have to double-check that the place they are visiting is accessible. From sports venues, to hotels, to a night-out with friends. Should we have to do this?
I’m hoping that by next year’s Disabled Access Day, I can go and watch football or go to restaurants, without worrying about the barriers I may face just because I use a wheelchair. It would be nice just to be greeted with a warm welcome.
By Jig Vaidya, Remploy Disability Ambassador
Disability Access Day
This year’s Disability Access Day takes place over three days 10-12 March. In support of the day, let’s say a well done and highlight venues and businesses that are embracing disabled accessibility. Share your good experiences @Remploy #AccessDay
*Source: Disability Access Day – Access Report 2015