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The BBC's Maria Brown
"The barriers are not always physical"
 real 28k

James Ford, Scope
"If we want a fair and decent society... we have to make these changes"
 real 28k

Sunday, 2 July, 2000, 08:03 GMT 09:03 UK
Disabled people 'barred from business'
Left Out report
More businesses are urged to improve accessibility
Badly designed buildings and patronising staff are still discriminating against disabled people despite new laws, according to a new report.

Disability charity Scope says disabled people feel barred from many shops, pubs, banks, leisure centres and cinemas because of obstacles such as steps and stairs.


You are potentially losing out on millions and millions of pounds

James Ford, Scope

The charity's new Left Out survey of 500 UK businesses revealed that three quarters posed at least one entry problem for disabled people.

DIY chain B&Q was singled out as a good example of a disability-conscious company, but Scope urged more businesses to work with disabled people.

James Ford, of Scope, said the situation was improving but disabled people still faced huge discrimination.

Business sense

"A third of buildings were not accessible, the entrances were not level, and over half of the premises surveyed did not have an accessible toilet," he said.

"Clearly this is unacceptable and this sort of discrimination must not continue."

Wheelchair user
Steps are still a major obstacle for many disabled people

Mr Ford said companies should consider the potential business they are missing out on from 8.6 million disabled people in the UK.

"If your business is not acceptable to a disabled customer you are potentially losing out on millions and millions of pounds," he said.

The report was mainly based on anecdotal evidence of disabled people.

'Fire hazard'

It includes details of a restaurant in Norwich which told a man in a wheelchair that it was full, even though most tables were empty.

In another case, a wheelchair user with cerebral palsy was turned away from a London club and told to return on a quiet night. Other disabled people have been told they are fire hazards in cinemas.

Left Out report
Scope says the situation is improving, but more could be done

Scope says it is essential that the Disability Discrimination Act was enforced to make sure disabled people had access to public services.

Under the Act, any organisation which provides goods, services or facilities to the public can be legally challenged if it discriminates against disabled people.

Mr Ford said banks and supermarkets were leading the way with better access, help for disabled shoppers and bank statements in Braille or on tape.

But he said more could be done.

He urged more businesses to ensure their staff had disability equality training and consider disability issues when refurbishing premises.

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See also:

20 Apr 00 | Health
Disability in depth
28 Feb 00 | UK
Save our loos plea
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