At the beginning of October 2014, thousands of people from across the country flocked to the ExCeL exhibition centre in London for the London Transport Accessibility show.
This free event provided the opportunity for the public - particularly the elderly and disabled - to voice their views and opinions on the current state of London’s transport, and learn more about proposals to improve accessibility around the city.
At the event, Transport for London announced that they would be investing £75 million into further developing disabled access to their public transportation options, with a focus upon accessibility to underground stations.
Stair-Free Access Promised
During Transport for London’s announcement, specific goals and aims were touched upon with regard to disabled access in particular.
It was confirmed that the city are striving to offer stair-free access to more than half of their underground stations by the year 2024, which could include the addition of ramps, curved stairlifts, and lifts, depending upon each station’s layout, its condition, and the space available for structural amendments.
Despite the capital being a major tourist destination, both for the British and for international visitors, the city has been scrutinised greatly over the past few years for its lack of accessible facilities.
One of the strongest voices to be heard comes from Ted Hill MBE, CEO of the British Polio Fellowship. Hill, who works as a rights advocate for the 120,000 people in the UK suffering with post polio syndrome - a condition which affects the nervous system and causes muscle weakness making mobility difficult, painful, or even impossible - challenged the government earlier this year, questioning why two thirds of London’s top 100 visitor attractions were not yet wheelchair accessible.
Other Attractions to Follow Suit?
There are an estimated 11.6 million people in the UK living with a disability, and ensuring adequate disabled access to attractions and venues nationwide could make a significant difference towards reputation and income for many businesses, especially not-for-profit organisations such as the National Trust, for example.
Recent research suggests that 93 percent of disabled people would happily revisit a venue or attraction if they experience hassle-free accessibility. Many London-based attractions are expected to join in with Disabled Access Day, coming up on 17th January 2015, which encourages UK venues to welcome disabled visitors, their friends, and their family, demonstrating their disabled facilities.