Blue Badge Style, the lifestyle guide for the discerning disabled, have launched a petition which could mean that in the future all buildings with hospitality functions are legally obliged to retro-fit disabled facilities. Recent comments from access consultant, David Bonnett, caused the founder of Blue Badge Style - Fiona Jarvis - to decide more needs to be done, legally, to build on the current status quo.
David Bonnett's work as a leading access consultant has seen him work on many major public building projects including The Camden Roundhouse. His role is to collaborate with the architects and advise them on ways to make buildings as accessible as possible. In an article written for the Blue Badge Style website, Bonnett stated that: "In 1995 the Disability Discrimination Act was introduced, to an unprepared and sceptical public. 16 years on it is recognised as one of the UK’s significant achievements, enjoyed by thousands every day and celebrated by visitors from across the globe when we host special events, most notably London 2012, but significantly by visitors to every international conference, music festival, theatre performance and football match."
"Twenty years ago we may have accepted that access to our historically significant building was out of the question. Today, with the support of English Heritage, many of these, from the Queen’s House in Greenwich to the De la Warr Pavilion in Bexhill, from Windsor Park to Trafalgar Square provide a largely barrier free welcome to all visitors."
"People with disabilities, parents with buggies and all of us carrying luggage or shopping all probably agree that there is still a long way to go but the reality is that progress made since 1995 has gone a long way in dispensing with the physical barriers that we had hitherto thought to be inevitable."
It was a fair and balanced assessment of the current climate of accessibility in public buildings, taking in how much Britain has achieved and how much more there is yet to do. However, Fiona Jarvis, founder of Blue Badge Style, responded to his comments, arguing that although public historical buildings have put in efforts to become more accessible for less able people, there are still many more buildings that have done little to improve. Particularly, she argued, buildings with a hospitality function need to improve their disabled facilities. Major historical sites have become more inclusive but many smaller venues are as difficult to access as ever. "Access is generally good in historical buildings," Jarvis replied to Bonnett's article, "but why after 16 years is it so bad in old buildings housing hospitality venues?"
It is surely only logical that the two would see the progress being made in light of their personal circumstances.Where Bonnett, on the inside of the improvements in his role as an access consultant, had focused on how far things have come, Jarvis, whose website reviews accessibility in hospitality venues, was more concerned with how far there is to go. She sees a need for new legislation with an emphasis on creative design to improve access.
Jarvis has since started a petition on Change.org, the world's largest petition platform, petitioning the government to insist that buildings with a hospitality use retro-fit disabled facilities. The petition states that "So many old & not so old buildings that house hospitality businesses do not have disabled facilities and yet able bodied facilities are available. In particular developers should be made to do this when refurbishing old properties. Too often the excuse is it's an old building or Grade II Listed. But they make room for able bodied facilities & English Heritage encourage imaginative solutions to the provision of disabled facilities in Listed buildings."
The core ethos of Blue Badge Style is 'freedom shared' - the aim being to inform and help less able people live their lives in style. It is the only company that looks at disability from the point of view of style & design, taking a stylish, pragmatic and cost-efficient approach to inclusive access, working with venue management teams, designers and architects to improve the awareness of disabled facilities. “Style is the overriding premise of Blue Badge Style, along with a positive outlook” says Fiona Jarvis, “disability need not stop you from enjoying the good things in life!”
The Blue Badge Style free app is the first and only app to give you information on where to go near you based on not only how stylish the place is but how accessible it is for disabled customers.The app works as a” Michelin-like” star system for the less able. It identifies cool venues near your location and uses a bespoke three tick rating system to grade it out of 5 for each category: 1.Access, 2.Facilities and 3.Style, so that users know exactly what to expect from each venue. You can then easily see the best places near you, read a review, check the Blue Badge Style rating and get directions on how to get there.
The new petition is available to sign online and Jarvis encourages anybody who agrees that British society should be accessible for all to sign it. "Lack of disabled facilities in hospitality venues is a major reason why disabled people do not feel included in society." she says, "we want to go out & have a good time just like anyone else!"