Blue Badge Style, the first app and website guide to a stylish lifestyle for the less-physically-able, has launched the Disability Action Panel which will make recommendations to the hospitality industry, retailers, transport companies and disabled equipment designers about how best to serve the less able community.
The panel will consult on a wide range of topics, from the larger, more obvious problems right down to the tiny details that can be easily overlooked by able bodied designers. Whether it be expressing views regarding accessibility on public transport, disabled facilities at supermarkets and restaurants or suitable products for less able customers the Disability Action Panel will have important advice to give. The spectrum of industries and topics it can advise on is broad and Blue Badge Style hope to aid as many as possible.
After the Paralympics last year there has been a genuine change in the perception of the less able. Recent research has found that 81% of British people agreed that London 2012 had a positive effect on our attitudes towards disability. This wave of public opinion has generated a strong desire for inclusivity and improved accessibility. However, at Blue Badge Style, the belief is that without specialised advice, the changes which are implemented could be misguided or ineffectual. In a post-Paralympic country there is still a need for the Disability Action Panel to make sure that positive perceptions are not put to waste.
Although much has been and is being done to improve accessibility in the UK it is important for retailers to engage with people who know what they're talking about in order to provide the best services possible. For this reason, the panel will be made up of people who really know and understand the issues and problems currently faced by less able people: that is less able people themselves as well as the carers/attendants of the less able.
Blue Badge Style founder, Fiona Jarvis, has found in the past that often, even places that are trying to provide good disabled access, are getting the execution wrong. These places need to hear from people with real-life experience of the problems that less able people have in order to adjust. She points to a phenomenon that she refers to as "quasi-khasis" as an example of this. Venues that she has been to in her wheelchair have demonstrated an effort to provide a disabled toilet but they have failed to follow through on it. They make errors such as placing handrails too far away from the toilet for the customer to reach or sometimes having no handrails at all. "What use is that to me?" she questions, "A big toilet cubicle is not a disabled toilet unless it has handrails that people can use! That is just one of many examples of why we need the Disability Action Panel. Without guidance from people with experience of the needs of the less able, venues will, with the best of intentions, provide lacklustre disabled facilities that frustrate the very people they should be helping".
Blue Badge Style was founded in 2007 with the core ethos of 'freedom shared'. The website has been providing information to the less physically able, about stylish and accessible places to go to, ever since. The website has a growing community of users, reaching up to 76,000 people a year. The company now aims to use this network to engage with retailers through the Disability Action Panel.
"Uptake for the panel has already been strong and we aim to start using its input as a resource in the very near future", Jarvis says, "but there is always space for more like-minded, opinionated and passionate voices and we would love to have as many people to call on as possible". To take part people can get in touch with Blue Badge Style by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling +44 (0) 208 568 7353. This is a chance to get disabled voices heard and let people know what is working and what needs to be changed.
Fiona Jarvis established the Blue Badge Style website in 2007 in an attempt to create a community of like-minded people for whom style and disability are not mutually exclusive. She first realised she might have multiple sclerosis after falling off her high heels in a bar once too often. She has become progressively disabled over a period of 20 years whilst she worked in the City selling multi million pound software systems for the like of SAP. However, Fiona has always refused to compromise on her own style, whether that’s eating in smart restaurants, wearing elegant clothes or going on glamorous holidays. Through all the challenges, Fiona has carried on and not compromised on style. She embodies the BBS Spirit! Just as Coco Chanel said: “Fashion fades; only style remains the same”.
About Blue Badge Style
The Blue Badge Style website and mobile app are currently building a community whose core ethos is 'freedom shared'. However, Blue Badge Style also offers a number of additional services:
Blue Badge Style Tick Rating
The unique BBS Tick Rating System is designed to encourage venues to provide Equality of Access to Goods & Services. We rate out of 5 for each category: 1.Access, 2.Facilities and 3.Style. The scores are then aggregated to a number of BBS Ticks from 0.5 to a maximum of 3. Our aim is for ‘as recommended by Blue Badge Style’ to become an aspirational goal for any item, organisation or establishment.
Whatever you wish to do, be it go to Paris, visit the Tate, stay at a boutique hotel, or check out the latest nightclub, BBS will arrange and advise on the best way to do this.
BBS campaigns highlight where the ‘equal provisions of goods and services are unreasonably deficient’. The intention is to act as an agent for change, altering venues’ mind-set toward accessibility. It needs to be treated as the ‘norm’, rather than something a venue is compelled to do by legislation.
We also campaign for the better design of disability products, which currently look like they are from the Marquis de Sade’s basement!
Pictorial Access Descriptions (PADs)
BBS offers PADs for all hospitality venues. They are social media ready descriptions of the facilities &/or obstacles within a venue. They look at comfort rather than compliance and are as cool as the venue’s website, allowing potential customers to make an informed choices about whether to visit.