How online actions make the real world more accessible

Posted on 12th June 2019

Euan MacDonald MBE

Written by Euan MacDonald MBE, Co-founder, Euan’s Guide

Everyone knows that technology is making our lives easier – from the mobile phones in our pockets, the handy birthday reminders from a certain social network, to the lifesaving data records held by hospitals. However, something that might not be so obvious to businesses is how the internet is making their venue more accessible to disabled people.

The sheer number of barriers preventing disabled people from trying somewhere new or making a spontaneous decision is not always obvious for non-disabled people. But if you take for example the supposedly simple task of meeting a contact in a coffee shop on the other side of town, and consider what that means for a powerchair user like myself, you’ll soon see that there are a lot more challenges for a disabled person to navigate. Not only do I need to consider the timings of public transport, but I also need to find out if they are accessible to me. I then need to find out if I will be able to enter the coffee shop, be sure that once inside there will be space for me to navigate my powerchair around the tables and chairs, and that they will have a toilet which I can use. In order to gain this type of information I would likely have to spend time researching online, contacting the venue, and possible reading long access reports full of information that might not be relevant to me and my requirements. Calling a venue may appear to be the quickest option, but that is not always possible, and it may not be helpful if the member of staff on the phone has no experience or knowledge on accessibility. As I hope I the example above demonstrates, even ‘everyday activities’ can become very stressful and time-consuming!

We created Euan’s Guide to remove the fear of the unknown that often accompanies visits to new places. The website allows disabled people, their family, friends and carers to find and share honest reviews on the accessibility of places around the UK and beyond. It also offers venues the opportunity to be listed on the website with information on their accessibility, letting more potential customers know about them.

Our mission is simple – to make it easier for disabled people to find great places to go. Here are my top five tips of how you can do just that with your online actions:

  • Be specific! Take time to list what your business has, and equally what it doesn’t have. Be specific and remember to include information on toilets, parking and public transport. Saying that your venue is ‘fully accessible’ does not make it clear what your business offers and could lead to disappointment. A massive 86% of people* have found disabled access information on a venue’s website to be misleading, confusing or inaccurate.
  • Make it easy. Your website is usually the first place people will look to for your access information, so make sure that this information is available online on a designated webpage, and make it easy to find! If it takes more than a few clicks from your homepage to find information on your venue’s accessibility, it will appear as though disabled access is not important to you and people may take their business elsewhere 53% of those surveyed* reported that they would avoid a business or venue if its disabled access information is not easily available online.
  • Visual aids help. Never underestimate the power of images and videos. Being able to see a space can remove a lot of the worry associated with trying somewhere new. Photos of accessible toilets and changing places facilities are a must, as are photos of entrances. These don’t have to be expensive professional images; clear and up-to-date images are all that is required.
  • Make things equal. Does your business have an online booking system? Is there a way to make this system accessible, or for people to add their access requirements at the time of booking? Booking in advance, and with the staff aware of their access requirements, removes anxieties surrounding new locations.
  • Lastly, list on Euan’s Guide. It is free and easy to list, and it shows everyone that you take accessibility seriously.

*Data taken from the Access Survey 2018, commissioned by Euan’s Guide, October – December 2018. Results available to download here: https://www.euansguide.com/access-survey

Euan’s Guide was a 2019 Impact Awards winner, in the Diversity category.

 

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