The Government has announced a 32-point Disability Action Plan to enable the UK to work towards being the most accessible place in the world. Beyond Empowers Managing Director, Ben Andrews, responds.
Our mission is to help places #DoItDifferently to support healthy, active lives for disabled people and reduce inequalities.
While we can definitely get behind the aspiration to be the most accessible place in the world, we believe the government’s Disability Action Plan could be more focused and strive to do things differently even more to support disabled people live healthy, active lives. Here’s how:
It’s good to see that the government is collating guidance to make playgrounds more accessible for disabled children and young people.
This has been a longstanding issue for disabled children and their parents or guardians. Through our own work and work with partners, we know how much play can be a vital part of development, while offering an opportunity to support increased cohesion and inclusion between disabled and non-disabled children.
However, the risk with guidance is that it becomes just that; guidance, and it is left to the discretion of developers as to whether they use it or not.
We would have liked to have seen the government go further with standardising known good practice and current guidance, so every playground has a minimum standard of accessibility it must meet.
Acting on current research and evidence.
Action 18 of the Disability Action Plan states that the Disability Unit will publish research on the accessibility of different sectors, including leisure.
While a focus on highlighting the accessibility of leisure is welcome, there is much research already out there that highlights what’s currently making leisure inaccessible to disabled people.
Things like a lack of inclusive communications and marketing, inaccessible venues, activity provision, staff awareness and training are all well known, longstanding issues disabled people face in leisure.
We would have liked to have seen acknowledgement of these issues with a stronger commitment backed by investment to tackle them.
Focus on the priorities of disabled people.
We know through research that disabled people are disproportionately impacted poverty, the cost of living crisis, unemployment and housing, as well as facing issues with social care and benefits.
All of these things significantly contribute to limiting disabled people and their ability to lead healthy, active lives.
The government advises that many of these issues will be paid closer attention to in the broader Disability Strategy.
However, we would have liked to have seen more of a focus on these issues directly within the Disability Action Plan, to provide clarity on exact steps that’ll be taken to reduce and eradicate their impact on disabled people.