October 03, 2005.
Leeds Today (UK).
Pubs, clubs and shops on hit list
A YEAR after new laws were introduced to make buildings more user-friendly for Britain's 10 million disabled people many pubs, clubs and high street shops are still not up to scratch.
According to the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) more than one in two complaints from callers in Yorkshire point the finger at leisure and retail businesses.
Just this week the YEP revealed that blind actress Sarah Caltieri was refused entry to Space nightclub on Duncan Street in Leeds city centre because the bouncers said her white stick was a health and safety hazard.
And Bert Massie CBE, chairman of the DRC, says lack of understanding is still a factor in various establishments across the region. He said: "We've got a very simple message for those high street businesses that are dragging their feet - the DRC will vigorously pursue offenders through the courts.
"We are already taking legal action against two major leisure and retail providers and have a hit list of several others to follow.
"Laws to make business and services more user-friendly for disabled people have been on the statute book for 10 years and there really is nowhere to hide anymore. To be doing very little for your disabled customers is no longer an option."
The leisure and retail sectors - which include pubs, shops, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, gyms, sports facilities and hotels - accounted for over half of 1,500 complaints to the DRC from across Britain since October last year.
The biggest problems disabled people faced in the leisure industry were the lack of accessible toilets in pubs, clubs and restaurants, the DRC said.
Other often-cited issues included poor staff attitudes towards disabled people, steps to entrances where no ramp was provided, the lack of disabled parking and poor changing room facilities.
Mr Massie added: "Disabled people are rarely seen in pubs, shops, restaurants and clubs. The reason? Too many high streets still appear to have a sign up that says 'disabled people are not welcome here'.
"The result is the social segregation of disabled people from everyone else on a grand scale."
Of the 137 Yorkshire calls taken by the DRC about access issues over the past year, 57 per cent of the complaints were about retailers, entertainment and the leisure industry.
Space are investigating the complaint but claim there was a "misunderstanding".
Source URL: http://www.leedstoday.net/ViewArticle2.aspx?SectionID=39&ArticleID=1209214.
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