[Pictured above – Trailblazer Fleur Perry who successfully campaigned to have her local bank become wheelchair accessible]
Since the implementation of the Equality Act 2010, and legislation dating back to 1995, it has been illegal for service providers to treat disabled people less favourably than any other customers.
Service providers, including shops, restaurants, cafés and supermarkets, must make reasonable adjustments so that disabled people can enjoy the same services and facilities as their non-disabled friends, family members and colleagues.
Being able to access the high street is such an important part of daily life, and Trailblazers across the UK thought the subject needed to be put under the spotlight.
We asked 100 young disabled people to describe what they thought was good and not so good when they attempted to access their high street. They shared challenges and positive anecdotes in our report, Short-changed.
Our report revealed:
- Almost 70 percent of Trailblazers surveyed said physical access to facilities always or regularly affects where they go in their town centre.
- More than two-thirds visited their local town centre or a more accessible out-of-town location rather than their local high street.
- Fifty percent of Trailblazers surveyed found that few or no shops they visited had accessible changing rooms.
- Eighty-five percent of respondents have seen disabled changing rooms, lifts or disabled toilets being misused.
We have come across several high street shops where the disabled changing rooms are being used as storage rooms: Zara in Covent Garden, Next at the Bury St. Edmunds complex, Next and Forever 21 on Oxford Street. Next staff just said sorry and that it’s the manager’s decision.
Trailblazers are calling for:
- Complete access needs to be provided for disabled customers, with level access at entrances and ramps within if required.
- Installing of lifts where required.
- High street companies to consider – and consult – disabled customers when there are renovations being planned.
- Investment to be made in solid portable ramps and handrails.
- High street companies to speak with disabled customers for feedback and listening to complaints or compliments.
Work for a high street business?
Read our Top Tips for High Street Businesses on how you can improve your service for disabled customers.
Find out more
You can read the full report into access to the high street here. If you are affected by the issues in the report and would like to share your experiences or be a media ambassador for us, please contact us.