Access for disabled people on Britain’s high streets has been branded ‘shocking’ by a government audit of more than 30,000 shops and restaurants.
In the largest ever audit of its kind in the UK, accessibility providers, DisabledGo, carried out the assessments after visiting each of the venues in person.
They found that as many as a fifth of the shops visited had no wheelchair access and thousands of venues had failed to adapt their premises in the way they’re required to do by law.
Slater and Gordon Associate Solicitor who sustained a spinal cord injury when he broke his neck in a diving accident as a teenager, said it was a very sorry state of affairs and as a law firm supporting people left with life-changing injuries, Slater and Gordon are extremely disappointed with the findings.
How can it possibly be acceptable for so many of the 12 million disabled people living in the UK to be unable to simply go Christmas shopping or enjoy a meal out with friends like everyone else?
One fifth of the UK population has a disability. Improving access for this many people who between them have an estimated spending power of £200bn, is surely a no-brainer.
The study found that two thirds of retail staff had received no training on how to help disabled customers; less than a third of department stores have accessible changing rooms; and 20 per cent of high street shops have no wheelchair ramps.
In addition, only 40 per cent of restaurants and a third of department stores have no accessible toilet; only 15 per cent of restaurants and shops had hearing loops and three quarters of restaurants did not cater for those with visual impairments.
Depressingly, out of the 105 national retailers DisabledGo contacted for further information, only 4 per cent responded.
Survey findings like these are incredibly frustrating and only confirm how much further businesses need to go to ensure they meet their obligations to disabled people.
The Government needs to do much more to enforce disability discrimination law and help small local businesses improve their wheelchair access.
The 2010 Equality Act states that organisations need to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people. Although many retailers have invested significantly to improve access, sadly, the vast majority need to do much more.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers offer a free initial consultation for people injured in accidents through no fault of their own. Call freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we will call you.
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