Tag Archives: Muscular Dystrophy UK

Only 3% of public think all UK tourist attractions suitable for wheelchair users

A YouGov poll carried out to mark the 10th anniversary of Trailblazers – Muscular Dystrophy UK’s national network of 800 young disabled people – shows that despite many advances in disability rights, most people’s experiences show there is a long way to achieving full accessibility.

Trailblazers

The survey found that:

  • Only three per cent of UK adults think all tourist attractions provide easy access for wheelchair users
  • Only 11% of UK adults think all Premier League grounds provide easy access for wheelchair users
  • Only 6% of UK adults think all UK railway stations provide easy access for wheelchair users

The advance of disability rights has been reliant on campaigning by organisations such as Trailblazers – and remains a patchwork of successes and work yet to be done. For example, while more railway stations now provide step-free access, half of stations remain inaccessible and assistance often needs to be pre-booked. There remain issues with staffing support, onboard toilets and making vital services like ticket machines accessible across much of the country.

Lauren West, Trailblazers Manager at Muscular Dystrophy UK, said: “We are so proud of the hard-won results that our Trailblazers have achieved in the last decade, and it’s encouraging that members of the public recognise the difficulties disabled people face when it comes to accessibility. But the headline successes should not leave people under the impression that the UK is now fully accessible.

“Take Premier League stadium access. It’s only after years of work by disability groups like Trailblazers that we are finally seeing clubs providing enough space for wheelchair users. But even that achievement just covers topflight clubs on one measure, and we still hear from disabled fans who have to sit away from friends or families, or even with the opposing team.

“We know it can be complex – the good practice guide on accessible stadiums is 116 pages long. But working with groups like Trailblazers is essential if businesses and organisations want to make sure they are open to everyone. Today we celebrate our achievements but now we want to hear from the next generation of young disabled people to help us tackle the next decade of advancing our rights.”

Trailblazers is a national network of almost 800 young disabled people and their supporters, and is part of Muscular Dystrophy UK. The group campaigns for change, provides guidance, and is an expert in what life is like for young disabled people. Members are passionately committed to challenging the barriers in society that stop us from living full and independent lives. The group launched in 2008, with 50 people at a meeting in London. Since then, it has successfully campaigned on issues such as accessible public transport, airlines, gaming and hate speech. Muscular Dystrophy UK is the charity bringing individuals, families and professionals together to beat muscle-wasting conditions.

Since its launch in 2008, Trailblazers’ achievements include:

  • Lobbying Twitter to update its rules to protect disabled people from hate speech. The social media giant went on to introduce the measures called for by Trailblazers
  •  Launching a report on accessible gaming and trialling Microsoft’s new adaptive controller for XBox
  • Fighting for accessible public transport in two End of the Line reports – published in 2009 and 2016 – which resulted in the government announcing new measures in early 2018 to ensure wheelchair users can access buses.

Trailblazer Connor Colhoun, 21, from Glasgow, said: “I’ve been to theme parks, and although it’s not usually possible to go on the rides, they do cater for wheelchair users. Things are definitely improving for disabled tourists, and accessibility is much better now than it used to be; I think that must be because there is more awareness. I recently went on the Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour, and it was excellent – everything was so accessible.”

2,134 people were surveyed on 4th and 5th July 2018 in the Muscular Dystrophy UK-commissioned survey by YouGov.

Equality Act taxi changes come into force

On 6th April 2017, sections 165 and 167 of the Equality Act 2010 officially commenced, offering new protection to disabled people travelling in a taxi.

Equality Act taxi changes come into forceThe change in law brings three key new protections to disabled people in England and Wales.  This means that taxi and private hire vehicle drivers will be obliged by law to:

  • Transport wheelchair users in their wheelchair
  • Provide passengers in wheelchairs with appropriate assistance
  • Charge wheelchair users the same as non-wheelchair users.

Any drivers who do not follow these rules and don’t have a medical exemption will face a possible £1,000 fine.

Transport Minister Andrew Jones said:We are committed to building transport networks that work for everyone, ensuring that disabled people have the same access to services and opportunities to travel as anyone else. Disabled people are often heavily reliant on taxis and private hire vehicles and this change to the law will mean fair and equal treatment for all.

“The new rules will apply in England, Wales and Scotland affecting vehicles that are designated as wheelchair accessible and will apply to both taxis and private hire vehicles. All taxis in London and a significant number in most major urban centres are wheelchair accessible.”

In a change to the law drivers found to be discriminating against wheelchair users face fines of up to £1000 as part of provisions being enacted from the Equality Act. Drivers may also face having their taxi or Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) licence suspended or revoked by their licencing authority. Drivers unable to provide assistance for medical reasons will be able to apply to their licensing authority for an exemption from the new requirements.

It is hoped that these new requirements on taxi and private hire vehicles will complement the rules already in place to prevent discrimination against the use of assistance dogs and underline Government’s wide-ranging commitment to supporting transport networks for everyone.

Robert Meadowcroft, Chief Executive of Muscular Dystrophy UK, said: “This is a victory for all people with disabilities who experience daily struggles with accessible transport.

“Being able to get from A to B is usually very easy for most people, however we know that this can be a challenge that affects a disabled person’s entire life, including their ability to have a job and play an active part in society.  This is a positive and very welcome step in the right direction which we hope will not affect the number of accessible taxis being made available by companies because of the duties now being placed on to drivers.

“Muscular Dystrophy UK and our Trailblazers have been campaigning on this issue for many years, and we commend the government for listening to the views of disabled people.”

Muscular Dystrophy UK is the charity bringing individuals, families and professionals together to beat muscle-wasting conditions. Find out more on their website: www.musculardystrophyuk.org.

“RIGHT CHAIR RIGHT TIME RIGHT NOW” campaign launched

Right Wheelchair LogoA national group of wheelchair users and advocates, led by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE, is calling for an improvement to wheelchair services in England, before more people are adversely affected by poor levels of service.

The Wheelchair Leadership Alliance, chaired by Baroness Grey-Thompson, is a commitment group tasked with improving wheelchair services for users across England. It was formed after the second NHS England wheelchair summit in November 2014, and brings together representatives of key stakeholder groups under one umbrella to work collectively to make a lasting positive change to wheelchair services.

According to the Alliance, it is crucial that wheelchair users receive the right chair at the right time in order to lead a normal life, but many users often face severe delays to receive their chair; this leads to harm and waste. Additionally, there are no set standards for budget per user and there is no current clear idea of what is spent on wheelchair services in NHS England, leading to widespread confusion and varied levels of service for users across the country.

Baroness Grey-Thompson said: “For too long wheelchair services have been inadequate and it is time that wheelchair users are listened to and provided a proper service, rather than being marginalised. The huge variation in quality of services across the UK is astounding, and means a huge proportion of wheelchair users are left immobilised, frustrated and ignored.

“Now we want to get this issue on the radar of people who can influence change and also get them behind the campaign by urging them to pledge their support to the Charter.”

In addition to healthcare professionals and CCGs, members of the public can pledge their support to the Wheelchair Charter and campaign online through the Alliance’s website www.rightwheelchair.org.uk. The Alliance hopes that support from people in positions of influence, as well as the general public, will help bring about change faster.

The charter is a 10 point document which outlines the key principles that wheelchair services should aspire to and can be accessed through the Wheelchair Leadership Alliance website.

The Alliance acts as an advocate for people who use wheelchairs, their carers and families. It has an overarching aim of taking action to transform the quality and effectiveness of services for people who use wheelchairs across the UK.

Research by Muscular Dystrophy UK found that wheelchair users with muscle wasting conditions often face severe delays to receive their chair:

  • 70% wait more than three months
  • 30% face a delay of more than six months
  • 15% wait more than 12 months
  • Unfortunately it is a very similar story for all wheelchair users

For every 182 wheelchair users not able to work, the benefits bill can increase by up to £1m, and yet the positive economic contribution made when wheelchair users are in work can be up to £4.7m.