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Petition launched for mandatory venue accessibility ratings

Monday 15th January 2018
Occupational therapists could be well-placed to advise on buildings accessibility ratings should a disabled campaign groups proposal come into being. Image: Zinkevych via iStock
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Campaigners supporting people living with disabilities are proposing the introduction of a new ratings system for bars, restaurants and other venues in Wales to show how accessible they are to disabled customers.

Similar to the 'scores on the doors' system currently used to show a food hygiene rating, the suggested system would rate how accessible a location is for wheelchair users, hard-of-hearing individuals, those with limited sight and anyone who might need to use a disabled toilet, BBC News reports.

A petition calling for such a system to be introduced was originally started by the Bridgend Coalition of Disabled People and has since attracted more than 2,000 signatures. The Welsh government made it mandatory for all restaurants to display their food hygiene rating where customers can see it in 2013, and the campaign group is hoping the same will happen with its proposed accessibility ratings in the future.

The Bridgend Coalition of Disabled People highlighted that staff do not always know how to use a venue's hearing loop or cannot locate Braille menus, while many disabled toilets are too small to fit a standard-sized wheelchair.

In addition, staff are not always trained in using wheelchair ramps, which can leave people with disabilities feeling uncomfortable, unwelcome, embarrassed and dependent on others should they have to be carried inside instead.

A spokesperson for the Welsh government commented: "In principle, this idea seems to have some merit and we would be interested to see how the practicalities of such a scheme would work."

In theory, occupational therapists could work with venues to help determine their accessibility rating, advising on changes they could make to improve how accessible they are at the same time.

Some businesses have expressed concerns that it will be costly to install lifts or widen doorways, but occupational therapists will be well-placed to advise on smaller adaptations that could be made in order to help people with disabilities feel more welcome when visiting.

Written by Alex Franklin Stortford

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