3rd December is tagged as the UN International Day for People with Disabilities. The issue with such a day is do we Celebrate or Challenge? Whatever your view critic or fan it does provide a moment to galvanise our thoughts.
Without a doubt inequality and hardship remains but the challenge of achieving a fair an inclusive society drives many people to keep campaigning and keep pushing for action.
RUS chose to mark the day with an impressive gathering in the House of Commons hosted by the diminutive yet formidable Hazel Blears MP. Hazel reminded us of the stark fact that 800,000 people are living with dementia in the UK. She spoke passionately about the need to up our game on care and treatment of people affected by the illness.
Scope’s chief executive Richard Hawkes, who was a guest at our event, spoke on breakfast TV in the morning and warned of a crisis in living standards facing many disabled people, with 1 in 3 older and disabled care users getting in to debt to pay for essential support to get up, get dressed, and get out of the house.
And of course just average mundane day-to-day shopping can be a challenge. Inaccessible shops, transport and websites can mean missing out on bargains and better deals. All of which push up the cost of living for disabled people.
RUS decide to use the day to ask disabled people to reflect on their own experiences of accessibility on the high street. Did they feel included of were they missing out?
Our research found that 65% of respondents feel that retailers have made no improvement to access in recent years. 48% felt dissatisfied wit the level of reasonable adjustments.
Banks came out top of the leader board on access whilst estate agents were quite frankly appalling with virtually no provision for access needs.
The event itself was described by George Ames from Forster as ‘packed to rafters’ with Steve Day ‘an inspired choice’ to highlight the challenges of deaf customers. You can view Steve Day’s website here.
The evening was topped off with a stunning performance from the talented soprano Sandra Gayer – Check out her voice at here.
One guest said “it was one of the best events I have been to at the HoC and the audience were the right people at the right time” (Stephen Dunn, Tourism for All)