During the festive season a trip to town to drink in the Christmas atmosphere and do some gift shopping is one of the things that makes Christmas special. But we’ve found many disabled people are being denied this simple pleasure.
We did a survey which found over eight out of 10 disabled people and carers had experienced problems with the accessibility of major high street stores and over half had been subjected to negative or unwelcoming treatment from shop staff.
Our favourite high street stores are effectively off limits to disabled people due to poor accessibility, negative attitudes and a lack of information.
Could it be that department stores and high street chains are happy with the way things are? Maybe they would prefer it if disabled people did all their shopping with them online, so they don’t have to spend any money on accessibility. Why else would they have so little information about the accessibility of their stores online?
I work for a charity called Vitalise. We run the Sandpipers centre in Southport, which provides respite breaks for people with disabilities and carers. Our guests have every right to be treated with the same dignity and respect as everyone else - and that includes the choice of where and how they shop.
As the world celebrates International Day of Disabled Persons, we think shops everywhere should be doing much more to make themselves more welcoming to disabled shoppers. So we’ve launched a campaign called #AccessNow and we’d like to appeal to you to join us in our mission to make the UK more accessible for everyone.
To support #AccessNow or to find out more about Vitalise, visit www.vitalise.org.uk.