Disability and inclusion writer Heather Lacey, who has Cerebral Palsy, writes for AccessAble about how councils can make their areas more accessible.
As the world becomes more and more connected, we are increasingly fortunate to have the potential to explore more of what the UK’s towns and cities have to offer. Getting out and about to enjoy the activities and attractions that our Towns and Cities have can be incredibly enriching. Nothing quite beats being able to get out and about to explore your surroundings: there’s opportunities for socialisation, the chance to get out and about to sample culinary delights, and to immerse ourselves in culture and the rich history the UK has to offer.
Unfortunately, when you’re disabled, or have additional needs, exploring Towns and Cities in this way isn’t always easy when you have to think about your accessibility requirements, what could be a simple trip into a city centre can soon turn into a real nightmare. So this begs the question: what could councils be doing to make sure disabled visitors can enjoy everything their city has to offer? Here's a few suggestions below:
- Public Transport
Public transport can be a real lifesaver for those of us who don’t drive due to disability or chronic illness. Unfortunately, it isn’t always that easy to get a seat when you need one. That’s where ‘Please Offer Me A Seat’ badges come in. As someone with a relatively invisible disability, and who is ambulatory, people are quite reluctant to move from their seats after a long work day, and this usually means I end up having to try and explain my condition to them so that they may let me use their seat. Using a ‘Please Offer Me A Seat’ badge enables travellers to see that someone would benefit from a seat, and reduces the need for the wearer to explain their conditions. Allowing disabled passengers the option to use these will make sure that their journeys into towns and cities can be comfortable and safe.
For wheelchair users, there’s nothing more frustrating than being unable to access a building because they are not able to wheel themselves in independently. Fitting ramps to places that have step access will allow wheelchair users to access these buildings however they choose, independently and freely. With the exception of certain buildings, many ramps can be fitted fairly cheaply and easily: and making sure that shops and restaurants are accessible will mean that disabled people have the opportunity to splash the cash as they please!
- Places to sit
As someone who struggles to stand for long periods of time, I find it incredibly useful to be able to sit down when needed. When I'm out and about I sometimes find it difficult to find adequate seating without having to pop into a cafe. A few well-placed seating areas or benches in shopping centres would give me ample time to rest my legs when exploring the sights of my local city centre!
- Raising general awareness
I'm sure that many disabled people know all too well that the general public still have some particularly stereotypical views when it comes to disability. Councils may be able to help with this: information, adverts and even workshops and exhibitions in public places could go some way to change perceptions and make our towns and cities a little more disability friendly.
5. Work with AccessAble
This list wouldn't be complete without mentioning AccessAble and the wonderfully Detailed Access Guides that can be used by anyone with a disability or people who a need for accessibility information when out and about. AccessAble is - quite literally - a way to find accessible locations at your fingertips, and by working with AccessAble you'll be able to identify any areas of improvement and highlight any accessibility already in your towns and cities. There's an app or the website, and each can quite easily display a variety of access requirements to ensure that everyone can enjoy the wonderful things your town and city has to offer.
So, there we have it: some simple things we can be doing to make sure everyone is getting the most out of their local areas or their visits across the country. We know that there's been some incredible progress, but we could definitely do more.
Don't forget to download the App or check out the website (www.AccessAble.co.uk) to find out how AccessAble is working to take the chance out of going out.