Blue Badge Style founder, Fiona Jarvis, has been interviewed by the UK's leading restaurant guide, The Good Food Guide. In the interview, published to coincide with International Day of People with Disability, Fiona talked about the top bugbears for less able diners, the ways to improve accessibility in restaurants and the aims of Blue Badge Style.
Jarvis hopes to use Blue Badge Style to draw attention to the need for improved accessibility in the UK's best restaurants, such as those which are featured in The Good Food Guide. In the interview, she highlighted the fact that, although often the most stylish and quality restaurants are the hardest for disabled people to access, it is precisely these restaurants who should be doing the most for less able customers. "As a disabled person, I spend a lot of time within the same four walls of my home (often surrounded by distinctly un-stylish equipment)," she said. "Any trips or excursions require serious planning. So when I go out, I need to know it will be somewhere good, and somewhere stylish."
She makes a compelling case for the economic benefits of improving accessibility. With more democratic approaches to eating out these days and an emerging market of less physically able bodied customers, the benefits of increasing the potential for customers to access a restaurant are very apparent. A small improvement, for instance purchasing a portable ramp for as little as £200, does not cost a lot but can open up a restaurant to as many as 20% of the population who suffer from some form of disability.
Yet as well as arguing strongly for improvement, Jarvis still finds the humorous side of trying to eat out in a wheelchair. The outlook of her company is to share experiences and to look on the bright side about disability. It is this perspective that allows her to laugh at some of the more unusual experiences she's had regarding the occasionally flexible idea of 'accessibility'. The full interview is available on the Good Food Guide website.
The interview represents an increased push within The Good Food Guide to focus on the key issue of accessibility. A guide to some of the best accessible restaurants is in the pipeline, as is further future involvement from Jarvis. A positive move into an era of access.
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.