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Apr 08

Hospitality Industry Called Upon To Improve Accessibility Standards


The UK’s hospitality industry has been called upon to make improvements where accessibility standards are concerned, with new research revealing that 32 per cent of disabled people are currently not having their needs met by hotels.

The research was carried out by accessibility and disability data organisation Handiscover, reported on by THIIS, highlighting that there are more than 14 million people now living in the UK with a long-term illness or disability that requires specific accessibility needs.

Handiscover is keen to see the hotel and hospitality industry prepare for a reopening and a return to relative normality after covid restrictions are lifted, suggesting that if accessibility information and standards, as well as better training, were in place, the economy could benefit by up to 25 per cent.

Accessibility director Magnus Berglund said: “Improving accessibility in the hotel industry is not just a ‘nice’ thing to do, it is the ‘right’ thing to do and can generate huge increases in revenue for properties.”

The study also found that 58 per cent of disabled people who do need assistance found that staff members at hotels weren’t as knowledgeable about accessibility as they could potentially have been, demonstrating just how important training and education actually is.

Further research, this time carried out by the Papworth Trust, found that 14 per cent of people with disabilities reported having difficulties when going out to pubs or restaurants, while 22 per cent said they have less choice about how they spend their free time because of accessibility concerns in comparison to non-disabled people.

Specific barriers include parking problems, issues with a lack of ramps and handrails, difficulty moving around inside because of stairs, doors and narrow corridors, and inadequate lifts and escalators.

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Apr 02

Kent Council To Use Inclusive Disabled Toilet Signs


Swale council in Kent is displaying new public toilet signs to tackle the misunderstanding around invisible disabilities. In response to a nationwide campaign started by Crohn’s and Colitis UK, 11 toilet signs on the Isle of Sheppey and in Sittingbourne and Faversham have been replaced, according to Kent Online.

The new signs include a picture of a male, female, and wheelchair user, and the words: ‘Not every disability is visible.’ They have been placed in public carparks, libraries, parks, and tourist attractions around the area.

Cabinet member Cllr Angela Harrison said: “Crohn’s and Colitis are lifelong diseases of the gut that effect an estimated 500,000 people in the UK, and more than 50 per cent of these have had a negative experience using an accessible toilet. We hope these new signs will create an accessible space for those living with any invisible disabilities.”

Sarah Hollobone, Crohn’s & Colitis UK campaigns manager, welcomed the move by Swale council. She points out the need to challenge perceptions about what disability looks like, adding that one in two people living with Chron’s or Colitis have reported a negative experience when trying to use a disabled toilet.

The charity claims that 83% of their supporters feel more comfortable when visiting places which have the inclusive signs installed. Their mission was originally inspired by the young campaigner Grace Warnock in 2016. Since then, nearly 2,500 branches of the UK’s five biggest supermarkets have changed their toilet signs.

Being confronted about their reasons for using a disabled toilet is a major source of anxiety for people living with Chron’s or Colitis. A survey by the charity reveals that one in two respondents had received negative comments for using accessible toilets, and 29% have been refused access to the facilities because their disease isn’t visible.

The charity is working to raise public understanding and awareness of the condition, and improve the quality of life for those living with the disease.

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Mar 11

£30 Million In Funding For Changing Places Toilets


The government has announced that £30 million in funding will be made available to install Changing Places toilets in existing buildings around England, with these facilities providing larger accessible toilets and equipment such as curtains, hoists, space for carers and adult-sized changing benches.

The move comes after changes to statutory guidance came into effect in January making the provision of these toilets compulsory in some new buildings. This, coupled with this new wave of investment, means that thousands of people who do have complex needs will now be able to enjoy greater access to public spaces.

Local councils will be able to opt in to bid for a proportion of the funding to install such facilities in their communities, improving the geographical spread across England and making sure that more disabled people can participate in everyday activities that have the biggest impact on quality of life.

Luke Hall, regional growth minister, said: “For too long, the lack of suitable toilet facilities has meant disabled people have faced major difficulties when they shop, go out, or travel and this should not be the case. That’s why the provision of Changing Places toilets is so important for people who cannot use standard accessible toilets.”

There are thousands of people with profound and multiple disabilities, which mean they are unable to use standard accessible toilets, which do not provide changing benches or hoists. These facilities are also typically too small to accommodate more than one person, which is why Changing Places toilets are so essential.

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Mar 05

10-Year-Old Raises £5,000 For Disabled Children’s Charity!


A ten-year-old girl with cerebral palsy from Melton Mowbray has successfully raised nearly £5,000 for a disabled children’s charity by doing a five-mile sponsored walk – the furthest she has ever managed.

Kaci Chapman made a birthday wish to raise money for Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children, which supplies specialist equipment such as beds, seats, wheelchairs, buggies, walking frames and car seats for disabled and terminally ill children, In Your Area reports.

Her mum Kym said: “Kaci was very excited and nervous before we set off, but Newlife CEO and co-founder, Sheila Brown, came to see us off, and once we got going there were friends, family and teachers lining parts of the route, in a socially distanced way, to cheer us on.

“There were lots of people we didn’t know supporting us on the route too. We were very emotional by the time we got home, and Kaci was tired, but she soon bounced back!”

Ms Brown spoke of how thankful she was for Kaci and her family’s support, saying that it has been difficult for the charity over recent months because some of its services have seen a doubling of demand. Some stores have been closed temporarily and many fundraisers cancelled.

Recent research from Nottingham Trent University, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and Sheffield Hallam University found that the pandemic could see one in ten charities forced to close within 12 months.

The financial impact of the crisis has left almost 40 per cent of charities and community groups in increasing difficulties, so it’s truly heartening to hear of stories like Kaci’s sponsored walk.

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Mar 05

People With Learning Disabilities To Be Prioritised In Vaccine Rollout


Care minister Helen Whately has confirmed that all those who are on a GP register for learning disabilities in England will be prioritised for a covid-19 vaccination, with the move intending to ensure that all those at higher risk of the disease are protected as soon as possible.

According to the Guardian, the decision came following updated advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

Deputy chair of the organisation professor Anthony Harnden called on GPs to extend invitations to those on the register to come forward as the rollout of the vaccine reaches group six in the priority list.

He explained that the aim is to reach people with severe or profound learning difficulties, going on to add that those with milder learning disabilities should not yet get in touch with their GPs.

“What we want to do is try and capture in whatever way we can all those with severe and profound learning disabilities, but we don’t want everybody with a relatively mild learning disability to come forward to be vaccinated now.

“That would cause problems because there are over 1.5 million of those individuals,” he said, in a speech to the Commons science and technology committee this week (February 22nd).

Executive director of communication, advocacy and activism at Mencap Jackie O’Sullivan advised people to check if they’re on the register and request to be put on it if they’re not.

Priority group six is those individuals aged 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality.

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Feb 25

Edinburgh Comes Top For Accessible Public Loos!


Some cities around the UK are more disability-friendly than others. It can be useful for people to know what sort of accessibility provisions have been made when it comes to deciding where to visit. Edinburgh, it seems, is the place to go! It has just come top of the list of places with the most accessible public loos.

Research reported by Edinburgh Live has just revealed that two out of three of the Scottish city’s public toilets are wheelchair friendly, putting it at the top of the list. It was followed by Coventry, with 27 out of 43 toilets accessible, and Belfast, with 32 accessible facilities out of 51.

Speaking to the news source, blogger Shona Cobb, talked about her experiences as someone in an electric wheelchair. Shona explained that she often finds that accessible facilities aren’t big enough for her chair and there isn’t enough room to manoeuvre properly.

She said: “I check the availability of accessible public bathrooms wherever I go. It’s as integral a part of my planning as is my journey there and the access of where I’m travelling to.

“It’s a part of accessibility that people often forget about. Most people can just head out of their house assuming that at some point they’ll be able to access a public toilet. I I just can’t take that chance.”

In the 2020 Budget, Rishi Sunak committed to investing £30 million to increase access to Changing Places toilets, which should see more of these larger accessible toilets become available. These all contain specialist equipment for disabled people, including hoists, curtains, adult-sized changing benches and enough space for wheelchairs and carers.

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Feb 23

Proportion Of Accessible New Homes Being Built ‘Now Falling’


Despite the fact that there are 14.1 million disabled people in the UK and the fact that we have a rapidly ageing population, just nine per cent of homes in England currently provide basic accessibility features – and analysis of 324 English local plans for the next decade shows that this looks unlikely to improve.

The investigation, carried out by Habinteg Housing Association, has found that in the next ten years, 70 per cent of all new builds won’t have to meet any accessible housing standards, with the proportion of new homes due to be built by 2030 in accordance with accessibility fell from 34.4 per cent in 2019 to 31.5 per cent in 2020.

It was also found that 52.5 per cent of local authorities around the country are still failing to set appropriate requirements for such standards in new homes, despite the government’s National Planning Policy Framework and Guidance, which requires planning authorities to use the Building Regulations Optional Standards when setting out such policies.

Nicholas Bungay, director of strategy and external affairs with Habinteg, said: “his forecast clearly shows that the system we have right now isn’t going to provide the number of accessible homes that our communities desperately need.

“Disabled and older people should not have to ‘make do’ at the expense of their independence and wellbeing. If we fail to get this right now we’ll be storing up a whole new kind of housing crisis for the future.”

If you need any help or advice relating to making homes accessible and the features available, such as half height shower doors and other such adaptations, get in touch with Practical Bathing today.

Feb 16

Ken Ross Issues Call For Greater Inclusivity For Disabled People On Screen


Film producer Ken Ross, renowned for the likes of My Feral Heart and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit, has issued a call for more disabled people to appear on TV and film screens worldwide, having spent the last 20 years working to promote greater diversity and inclusion of people with disabilities.

In an interview with the Guardian, Mr Ross, 49, explained that an actor would never be asked to black up in order to play a role, so why should someone be asked to impersonate an individual with a disability?

The producer, who is also a real estate investor, has now been talking to producers and directors looking to cast more actors with disabilities – including none other than George Clooney, with whom he is currently in talks with about improving opportunities for people with Down syndrome.

Mr Ross’s son Max has Down syndrome and he explained that it wasn’t until the birth of his son that he “fully grasped … how excluded people with Down syndrome or other disabilities really were”.

He went on to say that creating jobs for people with Down syndrome in the film industry helps spread awareness of the condition, adding: “When statistics show that only six per cent of people with a learning disability are in paid work, it makes sense to create jobs in the film industry, where you can reach an audience of millions and encourage people to think a little bit more about how they can include others.”

If you’re keen to start a new career in film and TV, Pact Diversity has a helpful list of resources and organisations that can guide you in the right direction.

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Feb 10

Have You Heard Of The Leonard Cheshire Can Do Programme?


If you’re looking to develop your skills in the near future, you might find the Leonard Cheshire Can Do programme of particular interest, aimed at young people aged between 16 and 35 with additional needs.

The idea behind the programme is to give people the opportunity to make a difference, both to themselves and their local communities, as well as helping them meet new people, pick up some new skills and have lots of fun, all at the same time.

You can work towards achieving an SQA personal achievements ward or a City & Guilds certificate if this is something you’re interested in pursuing, with Can Do groups all over the UK so it’s likely that there will be a group near you that you can get involved with.

The programme is free, with all training and expenses covered, with extra support provided if required. It could prove useful to see what other people have been doing, with activities including fundraising activities, preparing food and packages for homeless people, brightening up local communities with graffiti and mosaics, campaigning, sporting activities and so on.

All the projects focus on skills development and confidence building, with community-based and virtual sessions now on offer.

Leonard Cheshire itself has been supporting disabled people for over 70 years, working with various partners to open doors to opportunities and breaking down barriers that deny disabled people their basic rights.

It aims to ensure that disabled people feel respected, valued and safe, able to choose how and where they live, as well as participating freely in social and leisure activities.

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Jan 05

10 New Online Workouts Launched For Disabled Children


National charity for wheelchair sport WheelPower has announced that it will be releasing ten new online workouts aimed at primary and secondary age disabled children, giving them more opportunities to keep fit and healthy at the moment.

The videos will be divided into two age groups, according to MKFM, with five aimed at primary school children and five at secondary, each one with their own unique theme to ensure that each workout is different and varied.

Former GB wheelchair basketball player Ella Beaumont has agreed to be the instructor and she also has some amazing fitness resources available to help disabled people train at home.

WheelPower head of sport Emily Weller explained that these new exercise videos are being released at a time when children are homeschooling and therefore missing regular PE classes.

“These ten workouts feature our instructor Ella, as she leads us through a series of exercises around a particular theme. Each workout is approximately 20 minutes long and they are all fully adaptable and inclusive, so all family members can join in the movements too!” she said.

WheelPower itself has been providing opportunities in sport for disabled people for more than 70 years. Each year, it supports more than 62,099 disabled people to take part in sport and activity all over the country.

It promotes participation at all levels, from first-timers to Paralympic medallists, demonstrating how playing sport can enrich lives, no matter age or ability.

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