Tech business leaders and government join forces to tackle accessibility

A host of top businesses in the tech industry met with politicians, charities and and people with disabilities to discuss ways in which technology can be used to overcome barriers to access.

The event, hosted by the Minister for Disabled People, Work and Health, Penny Mordaunt MP, explored how apps and other tech can be used to keep users informed of a product, business or service’s accessibility features.

At present, just 40% of restaurants have accessible toilets, and almost half of guide dog owners have been refused access to public spaces, according to research from DisabledGo and Guide Dogs.

Mencap, Uber, Apple and campaigner Will Pike were all in attendance, to share ideas and discuss how businesses can move forward.

Penny Mordaunt said: “This is about giving people the tools to make choices about where they spend their money, based on a business’s attitude to disabled people. It is the next step in strengthening consumer power.

“Too many in our society have their options and opportunities closed down due to physical barriers and I want to harness the potential of technology to cement this issue in the public consciousness.”

At the event, ideas discussed included profiling individuals’ needs so that these could be shared with venues ahead of their visit, as well as a ‘hotel-style’ star rating system.

Rob Trent, Managing Director of website AccessAdvisr, exhibited at the event and said: “I’m delighted to be involved at this event. Technology has the ability to transform the lives of disabled people, and this will go a long way to starting that transformation.”

Fiona Jarvis, founder of app Blue Badge Style, added: “Spontaneity for a disabled person, their friends and family is a mission impossible. Military planning is required not only for travel to a venue but once you’ve arrived there are always surprises such as a set of stairs, or lack of a disabled toilet. If we had that information in advance on an app, we can at least be prepared for a good time.”

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