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Disabled access worsens across the UK during pandemic, new study warns

This news post is almost 2 years old

Research for Euan’s Guide found disabled people believe they have been disadvantaged as the pandemic continues.

Two years on from the UK’s first lockdown charities have warned that disabled people belive that the pandemic has seen a worsening in disabled access across the country. 

A new survey by Euan’s Guide - a leading disabled access charity - has warned that disabled people overwhelmingly believe they have been disadvantaged post-lockdown. 

The research found 59 per cent of disabled people believe that COVID has made disabled access worse.  

The latest results of its annual access survey of over 2,400 disabled people and their friends, families and carers reveals that disabled peoples’ biggest COVID concerns when visiting venues are places and spaces are people not respecting social distancing, as well as a lack of people wearing masks and accessible toilets being closed. 

Those participating in the survey said greater accessible routes for disabled people, clear marking to encourage people to keep their distance and requiring staff and visitors to wear masks. 

It was also unsurprising that disabled people were more likely to visit outdoor areas (55 per cent) and less likely to visit predominantly indoor or covered events (61 per cent) or indoor attractions (49 per cent).  

Euan MacDonald, co-founder of Euan’s Guide said: “The pandemic has had a massive impact on everyone but especially disabled people. 

“The majority of respondents thought disabled access got worse due to COVID, we have heard and continue to hear concerns from our community about social distancing, mask wearing and access to accessible toilets. 

“However, there have also been things that have changed for the better, such as remote working and studying becoming an accepted norm and online screenings meaning that events and performances can be more accessible to many disabled people.”  

Covid and lockdowns aside, the survey continued to gauge people’s opinions on disabled access generally. 

Information remains key, and 92 per cent of respondents stated that they try to find disabled access information before visiting somewhere new, with 56 per cent avoiding visiting a venue if it has not shared their disabled access information.  

Almost three quarters (73 per cent) of respondents reported that they have found information on a venue’s website to be misleading, confusing or inaccurate and this was echoed by a majority of respondents who had experienced a disappointing trip or had to change plans due to poor accessibility.  

Accessible parking and accessible toilets remain a top priority for disabled visitors with 81 per cent and 80 per cent of respondents respectively reporting that they would help improve confidence when visiting new places.  

Lisa Thomas, chief marketing officer at Motability Operations, said: “We were delighted to support the Euan's Guide Access Survey this year and while there are positives in the results, some findings are a bit disappointing. 

“We know from our customers that the benefits of being able to get out and about and enjoy freedom, cannot be understated and particularly after the last two years of COVID lockdowns. 

“We hope that the results of this survey help to highlight where improvements need to be made and drive real change.”  

Mr MacDonald added: “These results emphasise that we at Euan's Guide still have a lot of work to do. 

“We can’t do it alone though and we need your help. If you are a disabled person, friend or family member, please share your disabled access experiences so more people can find accessible places to go. 

“Likewise, if you own, run or work with a venue please ensure that you are promoting your welcome to disabled visitors.”