Having a spinal cord injury (SCI) can mean navigating the landscape of life slightly differently than before injury. You may worry about how this could affect your social or professional life, but it shouldn’t at all, and life should be just as rich and fulfilling.
Whether you enjoy visiting bars, restaurants and shops or regularly use public transport, none of this about your life should change if you begin to use a wheelchair or other mobility aids. That’s because the law requires all such places to be easily accessible.
How does the Equality Act protect me?
The legislation requires business owners to remove or alter the physical barriers that make it unreasonably challenging for wheelchair users and those using other mobility aids to access their facilities. This can include widening doors, adding accessible toilets and making space for priority parking.
The main difficulty is identifying which adjustments are reasonable and which aren’t. Every business differs in size, resources and venue. For example, it may be difficult for a small basement bar in a historic building to make the venue entirely accessible for wheelchair users. Whereas for a large chain in a modern building, there are higher expectations on the level of accessibility needed.
What happens if the premises aren’t accessible?
Unfortunately, there are cases of business owners ignoring their responsibility to make their venues fully accessible. It’s natural to feel angry, hurt or even belittled by this; we have every right to feel this way because it should not happen.
After all, not having an accessible toilet in a restaurant is enough to ruin your evening and is a form of discrimination against disabled people. You may want to take things further if you’ve experienced a similar situation.
You can take action
If you feel you’ve been treated unfairly because of poor access, the first step is to make an informal complaint to the venue. If your complaint isn’t taken seriously, you can take it further with your local council. However, you may feel overwhelmed or discouraged about having to take matters into your own hands.
Quite often, it can be a case of being unsure about whether your experience is severe enough to justify taking legal action. If you find yourself in this situation, you can talk to one of our specialists for personalised advice. You’ll receive all the support and guidance you’ll need to bring clarity to the situation.
Speak to one of our support coordinators to find out which support would suit you best here.