Last year, a report from the House of Lords argued that the pubs which are failing to provide access for disabled people should not be granted licenses.

Of course, accessibility is a very important issue, but closing pubs isn't the answer.

The solution to the problem lies in developing awareness to help create more inclusive environments whilst adapting and adjusting spaces to support inclusivity.

 

Gaining Access

Creating a more accessible environment can begin by simply adding a portable ramp to a pub. I have always said, that ramps don't exclude anyone - from mothers with prams, to elderly people struggling with steps, to the able-bodied walker - we can all use them! They are not expensive to implement and can be easily moved if necessary.

Mobility and accessibility can also be improved by simply adjusting the layout of tables, so adequate space for wheelchair users and those with mobility issues is provided. Offering a small number of tables that accommodate a wheelchair user (with no obstructions below the surface), will also improve the venue in terms of its accessibility.

 

Toilets

Pubs should make it very clear they have a disabled toilet, and sign post it well on the walls and at the bar. It can be very frustrating for a person with mobility difficulties, to get all the way across a room, to find that the toilet is the other side of the building. Also, make sure the disabled toilet is used as described, and not as a storage space for surplus stock or as a staff dressing room.

 

Offer inclusive features

 

 

To enhance inclusivity even further, consider things like the height availability of cutlery in a pub, disabled parking spaces in the car park, the provision of quieter areas for those with sensory issues, and offer menu options in braille and large font.

 

Gain awareness - hidden disabilities

Most of all, make sure your staff are fully aware of disability - and help them to understand that a vast majority cannot be seen. I have recently provided disability awareness training to staff in a pub where someone's disability was mistaken for drunkenness, and they were asked to leave.

This had devastating results for both their business and the individual. In such circumstances, staff should always seek the opinion of a senior member of staff, before outright refusal to serve - and keep a written record of the circumstances.

Finally, remember that earlier this year it was estimated by the Business Disability Forum, that over 3.6 million disabled people walk away from pubs and restaurants because of poor disability awareness. This is estimated to cost the pub and restaurant industry as much as £147.8 million a month. Furthermore, people with disabilities tend to be a loyal customer.

If a pub chooses to be an inclusive establishment, then a person with a disability will almost certainly return.

For more information visit www.enablemeproject.org.uk