Four in 10 disabled people '˜turned away' from High St shops

Millions of British adults are unable to carry out basic daily tasks such as buying milk or posting a letter due to accessibility issues on the high street, research has shown.

A study of 2,000 adults with some form of mental or physical disability shows more than four in 10 are unable to visit their local shops because there are facing barriers preventing a comfortable shopping experience.

For some 66 per cent polled, just being in the presence of other people can make shopping a struggle, while a further five in 10 can’t cope with loud music played in-store.

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When asked if they have ever turned back home before completing their shopping, because they found the experience too stressful – 45 per cent of people in Yorkshire said yes. And 27 per cent said it has caused them to have a panic attack.

When it comes to the main causes of difficulties for accessibility in Yorkshire, people said the following:

- 32% Narrow shopping aisles

- 39% too many stairs

- 49% crowds of people

A disability parking sign.

- 22% Narrow doorways

- 21% changing rooms been too small

- 11% more than one in 10 find music in stores is played too loud

In response to the research, Skipton Building Society have become the first financial services provider to partner with AccessAble, an organisation which enables people to view Detailed Accessibility Guides for a variety of their partners from hotels to shops and restaurants.

Jacqui Bateson, Senior Proposition Manager, at Skipton Building Society said: “As a nation we are becoming more aware of the challenges and barriers disabled people face, but clearly there is still a long way to go, particularly on the high street.

“The study highlights the real need for businesses to take action, to address the needs of everyone, whether that’s someone who is a wheelchair user, a parent with a pram or someone who find crowded or loud spaces distressing.

“The reality is that there are many people out there who need extra assistance when on the high street to make sure they have the best experience.

“Which is why at Skipton, we’ve also joined forces with the Business Disability Forum to create an action plan to improve accessibility across all areas of the Society, throughout our branch network, across our websites and in our contact centre.”

Paralympian, Hannah Cockroft, MBE has partnered with Skipton Building Society to create a short film which looks at some of the accessibility issues on the high street, bringing to life the research and daily challenges that people often face with inaccessibility.

Commenting on her experience during filming, Hannah Crockroft said, “It actually really shocked me how inaccessible a lot of places on a typical high street are.

“I think that it’s important to point out that accessibility isn’t something that just effects people with a disability, anyone could break their leg one day, and suddenly need access and that’s when you realise just how important this is.

“Taking part in this film has demonstrated to me that if we don’t go and question inaccessibility, it is never going to change. The more people that raise their voices, the more things are going to change for the better.

“I’m really proud to partner with Skipton Building Society and to have their support on a situation that a lot of us face every day, but I can guarantee everyone will experience inaccessibility once in their life.”