Monday 3 June 2019

Accessibility Guides - Planning a trip out?

If you have a disability or chronic illness like myself I've sure your care of how difficult planning trips out can be. You can't just turn up at places; instead you have to do your research and often call up the place your visit to ask your accessibility needs and what accommodations their are for your needs. Things like 'is there a Changing Place?', 'do you have info in audio or large print?', 'is there a hearing loop?', 'is there an audio announcement?', 'are their lifts or ramps?', 'do you have wheelchair or mobility scooters to hire?' this list goes on and on!

What's so difficult for organisations is that access needs are so varied including people who have mobility needs, are D/deaf or hard of hearing, visually impaired etc and within that each person's access needs are unique to them so it's difficult for organisations to cover all accessibility needs so often they only give a brief overview.

Thankfully there are some really good organisations that offer accessibility information. It's a bit like Trip Advisor, except for people with disabilities and access needs.

Euan's Guide

"Euan's Guide makes it easier for disabled people to find great places to go. 
The charity was founded in 2013 by Euan MacDonald MBE (who has Motor Nerone Disease) and his sister Kiki. 
As Euan’s access requirements changed, both went in search of recommendations for accessible places to go, but a platform for this kind of information didn’t exist. 
Built as a friendly and honest alternative to hours of web searching and phone calls before visiting somewhere new, Euan’s Guide now has thousands of disabled access reviews and listings for places all over the UK and beyond. 
Euan's Guide was launched by Euan and his sister Kiki as a place for disabled people and their family and friends to share their knowledge of accessible places to go."

I myself use Euan's Guide and write and submit reviews of places for them on the occasions I do go out. IWhen you write a review it asks what you're access needs are e.g. wheelchair user, mobility aids, speech impairment, assistance dog, hearing aid/cochlear implant etc. You then give an overall description, and then you write a review of transport & parking, access (e.g. was their a ramp/lift, hearing loop system, places to sit etc), toilet facilities, staff, anything else and you can also attach pictures, such as the seating area, the accessible loo/Changing place, accessible changing room, outside/inside access, Blue Bade parking etc.
Red Cord Card
As well as access reviews Euan's Guide also has a Red Cord campaign. 

They give out free #RedCordCards which say: "This red emergency cord must hang freely all the way to the floor. If it does not, it may prevent a disabled person from asking for help". 

Taking action in Matalan
The Red Cord Card scheme aims to bring awareness that emergency red cords in accessible toilets, accessible changing rooms, accessible fitting rooms and Changing Places need to hang freely. I carry around a few in my bag and leave them on emergency red cords and when I see one that been tied up I, if possible untie it and inform staff and also take a picture of the tied up cord and tweet it. This seems to rather effective. I recently got Matalan to sort out their emergency red cord in the accessible changing room.

If you live in the UK can order a free pack of Red Cord Cards from Euan's Guide ⇨ here

You can follow Euan's Guide on Twitter ⇨ here and tweet pictures of emergency red cords and cars with the hashtag #RedCordCard and #LetItDangle (see Gem's video below ⇩)


"AccessAble is here to take the chance out of going out. To give you the accessibility information you need to work out if a place is going to be accessible for you. We've surveyed 10,000s of venues across the UK and Ireland, including shops, pubs, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, railway stations, hotels, colleges, universities, hospitals and more. Use AccessAble to find wheelchair friendly venues or check out disabled access and facilities."

AccessAble have reviewed all sorts of places and they provide easy and accessible information on the facilities available (with some really cool symbols to represent all different kinds of needs from facilities for people with mobility needs, Blue Badge parking spaces, accessible accommodation, sign language, safe or quiet places, large print, braille, audio format, assistance dogs and more).

All you need to do is put in the location of where you're visiting and it will show up the places nearby that have been reviewed.

Changing Places 

Changing Places symbol
Changing Places are specially adapted toilet facilities as well as having standard toilets with grab rails and an emergency red cord like in you average accessible toilets Changing Places are a bigger space and also have changing tables and hoist facilities; some even have shower facilities.

The Changing Places Consortium was launched in 2006 on behalf of the over 250,00 children and adults who cannot use standard accessible toilets. 
To use the toilet in safety and comfort, many people need to be able to access a Changing Places, which have more space and the right equipment, including a height adjustable changing bench and a hoist. Without changing places many people are forced to have to lay on a toilet floor. Changing places are also a bigger spaces to transfer onto the toilet, to fit at least two carers into the room and have the clinical waste bin, screens for privacy and plenty of grab rails. Some Changing Places also offer hight adjustable sinks and shower facilities.

The Changing Places website has a map of where you can find your nearest Changing Place, such as at hospitals, motorway services, tourist attractions and concert venues.

As well as the map there's also a feature where you can plan your journey and it will show you where all the registered Changing Places are located along your route.

Example of a Changing Places facility