Progress in developing high streets to be more accessible for disabled visitors is slow, according to a recent survey by Disabled Go.
Research from the UK disability organisation revealed that almost a quarter of all fashion retailers have no step-free access, directly affecting wheelchair and mobility scooter users. Surprisingly, when compared to a wider survey conducted in 2014, the results show a similar or sometimes poorer performance than before.
In an article on the BBC, Anna Nelson, executive director of DisabledGo said: “We were hoping the survey would show improvement over the past two years, but sadly this is not the case.”
The latest figures from the Department for Work and Pensions shows the spending power of disabled people, sometimes referred to as the “purple pound”, has increased to £249 billion. Anna said: “You would think that this together with the legal obligations for every retailer to make reasonable adjustments would have been a catalyst for change. To us, providing great service to disabled people should just be about providing great customer service.”
The UK’s Equality Act 2010 is supposed to make sure disabled people have equal access in all areas of life, though campaign groups such as Disability Go continue to highlight that this is not the case. In addition to accessibility issues, it is argued that disabled people are not represented on the high street, despite increased media coverage and a greater effort for inclusivity in advertising.
In a statement to the BBC, Minister of State for Disabled People, Penny Mordaunt, said: “Our shop windows, magazine pages and catwalks should reflect the diversity of our society, and I want to see businesses making a real effort to be open to everyone.”
A separate article introduced artist and Channel 4 presenter Sophie Morgan’s ‘Mannequal’ project. She has designed and created wheelchairs for shop mannequins that acts as a style guide for wheelchair users and a symbol of inclusivity.