We now live in a world where there is a day, week, month for some worthwhile cause everywhere we look. Whether it be the accessibility campaign Purple Tuesday, Autism Awareness Week, Movember or a Macmillan Coffee Morning. There are plenty of campaigns and initiatives to catch our attention, make a pledge, or to grow a moustache.
Every once in a while a campaign comes along that grabs my attention. The message resonates and you immediately throw your support behind it. Trying to make a real difference to improve accessibility in the UK. That campaign is #TakingtheDis.
All too often I see the daily struggles from disabled people posting on social media about how inaccessible the world is. Whether it’s broken lifts, no ramps, being abandoned at railway stations for hours, or an accessible toilet being used as a storage cupboard. It’s 2019 and it simply isn’t good enough. Why is accessibility still something we are needing to address?
Coronation Street star Cherylee Houston has been the driving force behind this twitter campaign which has gathered some serious momentum over the past few weeks after several bad experiences with accessibility regarding trains and a hotel booking with a large online company.
The company had claimed that the hotel Cherylee had booked into was an accessible hotel, with an accessible room. However they failed to mention that there were two steps to get into the hotel and had no ramp to allow her to gain access to the hotel. It begs the question what standards are being upheld by hotels when they claim to have accessible rooms. Do they expect disabled guests to levitate their way into the building? Or smash their way through the front doors? Or do they think it is actually a perfectly acceptable, reasonable adjustment for a disabled guest to be carried over the threshold in every inaccessible hotel in the land in some sort of weird street theatre performance piece? Whatever they think it shouldn’t be possible for a hotel, anywhere in the world to say they have accessible rooms, when they cannot be arsed buying a bloody ramp for the front entrance!
As well as raising awareness on inaccessible spaces Cherylee continues to work to create a more equal opportunities for disabled artists and actors with the Disabled Artists Networking Community (DANC). DANC is a regular networking event for established/professional artists and performers (of any art form) that have a disability. Each event is hosted by a different theatre or arts venue. By hosting the event at a variety of venues, we are creating links and pushing for disability to become part of that venue/organisations agenda. It also means that we are opening a dialogue with venues on how we can work together to make changes. Each event has between 3 and 5 industry guests that will introduce themselves at the start, explain their role in the industry and the changes they would like to make/see.
One thing this hashtag has exposed is that disabled people experience issues of inaccessibility on a daily basis, up and down the country. Surely we can all work together to create a more accessible and equal society and stop treating accessibility as a ‘nice thing to do.’ But rather a necessity to allow everyone to have an equal experience in society.
We have tried to do our little bit in support of this campaign by ordering 300 stickers with #TakingtheDis printed on them to send to people to stick to places they find inaccessible, to let people know it isn’t acceptable to not support disabled people to access their business or venue. If you are interested in getting some for yourself head over to twitter and DM @iRoamTours and we’ll get some out to you as soon as we receive them from the printers. Let’s make a better, more inclusive and accessible society together.