The results of the largest-ever government audit of the disability access facilities of more than 30,000 shops and restaurants reveals ‘shocking’ results. Accessibility information providers, DisabledGo, visited the venues in person and found the following results:
- Less than a third of department stores have accessible changing rooms
- Two thirds of retail staff have no training in how to help disabled customers
- 40% of restaurants and a third of department stores do not have an accessible lavatory
- One in five high street shops have no ramps for wheelchairs
- Only 15% of retailers have hearing loops for shoppers with hearing impairments.
Alison Johnson, senior associate at Penningtons Manches LLP, says: “It is totally unacceptable that disabled people, their family, friends and carers cannot access such a high percentage of high street shops and facilities. While it is unreasonable and unpractical to make every shop completely wheelchair-friendly, high street stores should make efforts to improve accessibility and make reasonable adjustments for people with disabilities as far as is reasonably practicable. We accept that the owner of a small corner shop will not be able to invest considerable expenditure on accessibility but they can make improvements for just a small amount of money. For example, by installing a doorbell that a disabled person can press to ask staff for help.
“There are 12 million people in Britain with disabilities, with an estimated spending power of £200bn. Government ministers have said that businesses are "missing a trick" and “must do better” - a sentiment with which we strongly agree.”