A recent survey from DisabledGo has found that a high proportion of high street fashion shops are not offering accessible services to disabled people.
The research follows on from a wider survey undertaken in 2014, which showed the majority of the British high street was inaccessible for disabled people. The 2014 survey saw 25,000 shops and restaurants visited by accessibility information providers and was one of the largest carried out in the UK.
The most recent survey was much smaller and concentrated on 1,295 fashion retailers, but has similar results and unfortunately illustrates that accessibility for disabled access has not really improved since 2014.
Discussing the findings of the recent survey, Anna Nelson, Executive Director of DisabledGo.com commented, “Things have been slow. We were hoping the survey would show improvement over the past two years, but sadly this is not the case.”
The survey found that:
- 23% of the 1,295 stores visited did not have access for wheelchair users.
- 4% of the stores did not provide somewhere for a disabled person to sit and rest.
- 90% of stores didn’t have a hearing loop to help people with hearing aids.
- 62% did not provide disability awareness training for staff.
This is despite the fact it has been estimated the disabled community in the UK has a huge £249 billion pounds to spend in the retail sector. This is a huge amount of income that many can’t afford to ignore.
Speaking to BBC Newsbeat before Christmas, Penny Mordaunt, Minister of State for Disabled People, commented, “We need to let businesses know how dumb they’re being and we need inspirational people to help us do that. We want to give consumers, and their friends and families, more information about the stores that are doing things well. People will ultimately vote with their wallets.”
Newsbeat also shared stories from disabled people about their experiences on the high street. Many reported problems accessing high street stores due to display stands and extra stock blocking aisles. Passageways are required under building regulations to be at least 120cm wide; however, these regulations do not apply to free-standing clothes rails and display stands.
Disabled Access Day launches this year on the 10th-12th March to celebrate the efforts of many businesses in ensuring their services are accessible for everyone. However, it does seem that the high street and fashion retailers are behind and these stores should take a look at the many venues taking part in Disabled Access Day to pave the way to making their stores accessible for disabled people.
At Freeclaim Solicitors we understand the frustrations of disabled people in accessing everyday stores and the problems they face. Through our work helping people after they have sustained injury in an accident, we look at different aids and adaptations that we can help fund for our clients to improve their mobility and gain more independence following an accident.
Our aim is to help clients to live as independently as possible following a life changing injury and therefore we welcome any initiate to encourage venues and businesses to consider how accessible they are and think about changes that can be introduced to make them accessible for all people.