Obstacles to Opportunity
Making the transition into adulthood can be daunting for some people, for disabled people it can be even more challenging. As a kid with Cerebral Palsy I attended a mainstream school and whilst I may have been a little shy, making friends was never a difficult task.
When I started secondary school I started using a wheelchair more regularly and this had an impact on my life as all of a sudden, the friends I’d made in Junior school became distant and our once close bond became nothing more than a friendly acknowledgement when our paths crossed around the school premises.
Looking back, it felt like it tainted my memories of school. During my college and university life as a disabled young adult, it felt easier to be accepted, and I had made friends with many other disabled people at this point and my social and friends circle increased significantly.
As a young person, I had always been keen on travelling and I was fortunate enough to travel to places such as Berlin, Krakow, Warsaw, Dublin, and Lisbon. I also spent three summers in Alabama, and by the time I was 30 I had travelled around the United States to places including Chicago, Atlanta, New Orleans, Florida, Nashville, West Virginia, and the city that never sleeps, New York.
Being a wheelchair user, I had become accustomed to facing barriers to inclusion and this was no different whilst on my travels. During my visit to Eastern Europe and Poland, whilst Krakow is a beautiful city, the historic aspect and buildings meant that finding bars and restaurants that were suitable to my access requirements was a difficult experience.
(A rainy day in Krakow, trying to find somewhere accessible to avoid the rain!)
Finding accessible venues can often be an arduous task and is not just an issue in Krakow. It can be a daunting experience in Britain too. It is 25 years since the Disability Discrimination Act became law in Britain, the fight for equality though, carries on. In 2010, the Disability Discrimination Act was replaced by the Equality Act, which had made strides in distinguishing what was direct and indirect discrimination, but as with the legislation that was implemented in 1995, the Equality Act 2010 has the same issues as its predecessor, due to the laws being poorly enforced.
For businesses and venues in Britain, they have had 25 years to ensure they were accessible, and this simply has not happened. It is clear to me as a disabled person that there is a long way to go before equality for all. I may only be in my early 40’s but I am far from certain that we will see any real equality in my lifetime. That is the stark reality that the disabled community face in a modern-day Britain and that is why we founded The Accessible Guide.
It has been almost four years since we founded our Company and we have had our highs and lows, with our most significant high, receiving funding from the National Lottery Community Fund to develop and launch our new platform.
The Accessible Guide has been designed by disabled people to create opportunities for inclusion. We acknowledge that every person has their individual access requirements. Our platform will showcase businesses and their access provisions, using factual information, which will help users search for services and businesses that meet their individual access requirements.
Whilst the fight for equality continues, our objectives as a Company are to create genuine opportunities for inclusion, that will help reduce social isolation and ensure we have a positive impact on both the physical and mental wellbeing of our service users.