Katie Dyton from AccessAble attending the meeting to present on AccessAble’s work since its name change from DisabledGo.
DisabledGo had been founded by Dr Gregory Burke, a wheelchair user who had encountered accessibility challenges while at the University of Cambridge. Dr Burke’s challenges in getting to usual student locations were such that he experienced a lack of spontaneity and an increase in social isolation. The first version of DisabledGo’s access guide was launched as a result with Croydon Council in 2002.
AccessAble’s social mission was to empower disabled people to make informed decisions about venues and locations where they can go to enjoy themselves. The information on the guides was also useful for people with other disabilities who were not wheelchair users, and parents with buggies.
The access guides included 1000 pieces of information per guide, and all information was factual and objective as AccessAble recognised that every disability had different requirements of a venue. Every piece of information in the access guides had been requested to be provided by a user. All assessments were delivered in person by a trained surveyor, and every guide was checked for quality by an external organisation before being published.
Katie demonstrated sections of the AccessAble website. The website included photos and symbols and included information such as whether there was level access within the venue. Each entry also included information about the inside of a venue, including whether background music was playing, whether seating furniture was movable and whether staff had been disability equality trained. Each guide included a section on the venue’s toilets, around location, access, fixtures and dimensions.
The change from DisabledGo to AccessAble had seen a new and mobile app website launched, which both worked with screen reader software. The app was available and free to download on Android or Apple phones. An EasyRead version was available of every access guide, which summarised the entry by key text and photos.
In response to questions, the following points were noted:
· The website included route guides and shopping area guides, including routes from public transport points. Route guides were available for The Lexicon.
· The venues on the website were reviewed annually, and the venue would be revisited if any changes were reported.
· The current contract between Bracknell Forest Council allowed for 10 additional venues to be added to the guide each year.
· Members of the public could use the suggested venue function to propose a new venue for the guide.
· Members of the public who did not have online access could phone Access Able and request paper copies of the guides relevant to them.
· The data on the website was for public use, but the platform itself was closed with closed data access.
· The website didn’t have Google maps integration as there was another mapping function on the website.
· AccessAble had agreed a partnership with TripAdvisor to link the guides with reviewing pages on the TripAdvisor website.
· Katie offered to send leaflets to any organisation who would like some.
· It was agreed that the presentation slides would be shared with the group, and Katie offered to present to other interested groups in the borough.
· It was recognised that not all Councils bought into AccessAble’s work.
· AccessAble had just partnered with Transport for London to cover 6 pilot train stations but did not cover motorway service stations unless they were included in a local authority’s access guide.
· The guides did not generally cover large events such as Glastonbury and Royal weddings but could cover one off events if the host organisation funded this work.
· AccessAble did analyse their user base through user numbers and user journeys available on Google Analytics, but could not take age and location into consideration under GDPR regulations.
· It was suggested that the text formatting on each entry be revisited to frontload where services were not available, to make the information clearer at a glance.
· It was noted that the information could not be RAG rated as this would mean the information was no long objective.
· A surveying day would be planned for Bracknell Forest so that service users could experience what surveyors look for when visiting a venue.
· It was noted that AccessAble were in the second of a three year contract, joint funded by the Lexicon and Bracknell Forest Council.
· Organisations could opt in on an individual basis for around £150 for a detailed access guide per venue.