Hi! I’m Emily, a 27 year old accessibility consultant, writer and presenter living in gorgeous Glasgow – I decided to stay after moving up here to travel write for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. I’m a full-time manual wheelchair user with cerebral palsy and, although I’ve travelled to over 30 countries for work and play, I can still find the simplest thing – going out for a meal with my family, or meeting work colleagues for a drink – really pretty stressful.
After some awful (and very inaccessible) experiences over the past few years, including lifts with five steps up to them in a hotel in Spain, taxi drivers smashing my head on the side of their cab as they gallantly make a show of pushing me up the ramp into the car, and having to crawl down the length of a plane to go to the loo when the streamlined aisle chair mysteriously disappeared from the cabin (only to be found half an hour later!), I now call ahead EVERY time I’m going somewhere that I’m unsure of the access to. As I’m sure you can imagine, it’s both time-consuming and a little awkward, especially when there’s a lack of understanding around what accessibility means, and what my specific requirements are. It’s admittedly never stopped me going somewhere, but it has made my little internal voice say ‘oh no, not this again’ a bit too often.
And that, my friends, is why I’m so flipping excited to be an AccessAble Champion! AccessAble launched only last week, and is THE place to go for all the access and inclusion information your heart desires. Simply go to www.accessable.co.uk, enter what you’re looking for (it might be a restaurant, bar or cinema, for example) and the town or postcode you’re wanting to search in. The places that have been audited for access will appear. If you’re in a hurry, you can choose to ‘view accessibility symbols’ which will give you a good idea of whether that particular place of interest will suit your requirements, or you can look at AccessAble’s Guide to the place for in depth information on opening times, parking, external and internal access, bathroom facilities and more!
Give it a go the next time you’re looking to go out and be entertained (or fed!) This brilliant website is going to help me in two important ways: yes, it’s going to stop my need for regular awkward phone calls but more importantly, it’s going to encourage and empower me to explore places that have previously been out of my comfort zone. I now don’t have to go to the same five restaurants in Glasgow that I know suit my requirements. And if I happen to be in a new city? No problem – AccessAble will be my inclusive tour guide!