• DisabledGo study shocks the Government with evidence of inaccessible British high streets


    New DisabledGo study shocks the Government with evidence of the inaccessibility of the British high street to disabled people, despite their £200 billion spending power this Christmas.

    The DisabledGo research, which spanned across 30,000 shops and restaurants nationwide, found that less than a third of departments have accessible changing rooms, two thirds of retail staff have no training in how to help disabled customers and 40% of restaurants have no accessible toilet.

    The Minister of State for Disabled People is urging shops and restaurants to improve their accessibility, as evidence has emerged that thousands of public places have barriers in place that make it difficult for disabled people to enjoy and contribute to their community.

    The news comes as Britain’s 12 million disabled people begin their Christmas shopping and head out to celebrate the festive season with their work colleagues and friends.

    DisabledGo visited and assessed every one of the 30,000 venues in person from a pan disability perspective. The research found a fifth of shops excluded wheelchair users, only a small fraction of restaurants and shops have hearing loops and three quarters of dining establishments do not cater for those with visual impairments. When DisabledGo contacted leading chains direct to gather extra information only a tiny proportion responded. (4% of 105 national retailers and 5% of 58 UK restaurant chains)

    Minister of State for Disabled People Mark Harper said: “Everyone deserves to be able to go Christmas shopping or enjoy a festive meal or drink with their friends or colleagues. Disabled people are no exception. I’m calling on the retail and hospitality industry to look at what more they can do to better cater for disabled people.

    The Minister of State for Disabled People is urging shops and restaurants to improve their accessibility, as evidence has emerged that thousands of public places have barriers in place that make it difficult for disabled people to lead ordinary lives.

    The key findings of the research which spanned over 30,000 shops and restaurants nationwide found:

    High street shops

    • A fifth (20 per cent) were not able to provide access for wheelchair users because of steps and no ramps;

    • Less than a third of department stores have accessible changing rooms for wheelchair users;

    • A third of department stores do not have an accessible toilet;

    • Two thirds (65 per cent) of retail staff have not been given any disability awareness training; and

    • Only 15 per cent of retailers have hearing loops for shoppers with hearing impairments.

    (27,000 high street retail outlets audited)

    In addition, 91% of the leading high street retailer s (105) provided no accessibility information about their stores on their own websites.


    • 40% of restaurants have no accessible toilet;

    • Only 23% produce menus in large print for those with visual impairments;

    • Just 9% have hearing loops;

    • Nearly half (45 per cent) of restaurant staff have not been given disability awareness training.

    (3,716 restaurants audited)

    In addition, only 14% of the leading UK restaurant chains (57) provided accessibility information about their restaurants on their own website, most of which was very basic.

    Commenting on the research, DisabledGo Chairman and former Director of M&S and B&Q, Barry Stevenson, said: “We are pleased that many retailers have invested significantly in improved accessibility in the last 10 years, but the majority are still not doing enough. It’s entirely unacceptable for disabled people, their family, friends and carers not to be able to access all high street shops and facilities.”

    “Without the right staff training people with a whole range of disabilities, not just physical ones – but those with hearing, sight or learning difficulties – are just not going to get the service they should expect when out shopping this Christmas.”

    “Disabled people are not asking the earth – just that management do what’s reasonable and think more about how they can help disabled customers better. And that includes better communication about their accessibility online. It doesn’t need to cost a fortune to do the right thing – and it could be the deciding factor for disabled customers between you and a competitor.”


    For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:

    Anna Borthwick
    07736 327 546

    Download an image of Dr. Gregory Burke here

    Download an image of the DisabledGo logo here

    About DisabledGo

    1. Based in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, DisabledGo was founded in 2000 by Dr. Gregory Burke, a wheelchair user since the age of 16. Gregory’s aim was to find a way of breaking down barriers which disabled people face when trying to access leisure, education, employment and other services in their community.
    2. Our first access guide was launched in 2000 following an unprecedented national consultation exercise among disabled people and representatives.
    3. 14 years on from the launch of our very first guide, we now publish access information to well over 125,000 places of interest right across the UK and the Republic of Ireland, working in partnership with local authorities, universities, colleges, NHS Trusts and private sector organisations. We continually consult with disabled people to ensure we are collecting the information that is important to them.
    4. Developed by disabled people for disabled people, we aim to give you more ‘independence and choice’. We give our users the information they need to decide whether a particular venue is right for them – we don’t attempt to judge a venue’s accessibility on their behalf.
    5. Our service is unique because we send one of our specially trained surveyors to visit every single venue featured on our website in person. Our surveyors use the same high standards to assess each venue so you can be confident in the consistency of the information we publish.
    6. All of our access information is available free of charge on our website www.disabledgo.com where we also publish disability news and a calendar of disability events and a job search portal featuring employment opportunities with inclusive companies.
    7. We also provide a range of inclusive solutions for business partners, including: bespoke surveying services, online training solutions, specialist accessibility consultancy and recruitment services.

    Roisin Norris

    Hi I'm Roisin Norris, Digital Marketing Executive at DisabledGo and I will be uploading blogs and news for you all to read.

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    Categories: DisabledGo Blog, DisabledGo News

    • Neal Terry

      Good to see this but where is the actual research?

    • clivegsd

      Where the hell did you get the total 12 million disabled people from?

      • Robert

        We have 11.5 , million people who claim some sort of benefits for disability illness, we have eight million people of working age the others are retired.

        I see what your getting at the 2.8 million on IB or ESA are people who have worked long enough to have paid stamp or have been in further education long enough. these get IB or ESA

        But we do have close to 12 million why what did you think then.