Call for West Midlands high streets to be more disabled-friendly

Region could be boosted by £19 billion ‘purple pound’ by attracting disabled people and their families.

Thousands of high street businesses across the West Midlands could effectively be turning away the custom of one in five people by not attracting disabled people, the Minister for Disabled People Mark Harper said today.

Research from the Department for Work and Pensions has shown disabled people find shopping the most difficult experience for accessibility, followed by going to the cinema, theatre and concerts. Drinking and eating out at pubs and restaurants was third on the list.

It coincides with the release of a new ‘purple pound’ figure from DWP showing that households with a disabled person have a combined income of £212 billion after housing costs.

Minister for Disabled People Mark Harper said: “We want businesses up and down our high streets to realise they’re excluding more than 12 million customers and their families if they fail to cater for disabled people. That’s the equivalent to the populations of London, Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield, Cardiff and Manchester combined.

“It’s not just about fairness, it makes good business sense to be accessible.”

The Minister has written to more than 200 of Britain’s biggest businesses and more than 80 trade organisations with a combined 420,000 members. He has also written to the Chief Executives and Council Leaders of all local authorities as part of the Accessible Britain Challenge – a call to communities to be more accessible to disabled people and their families.

There are already good examples across the West Midlands of councils, communities and businesses that have improved their services for disabled people:

• The disability organisation Listen not Learn helped the leisure play area Jungleland in Telford to be accessible to disabled children and their parents. They advised them about parking spaces, changing facilities, additional dietary requirements and helped them to understand what a reasonable adjustment means. Jungleland now offer an exclusive free meeting time on a Monday for parents and carers and their children to come and enjoy time without feeling stigmatised as their children behave differently.

For more examples across the West Midlands, visit the good practice page on

Businesses are required by law to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people. There are many easy and low-cost ways to improve accessibility including:

• Clearing clutter from corridors and aisles.
• Printing menus, leaflets and brochures in at least 12 pt font, 14 pt is ideal and being prepared to do larger print if requested.
• Training staff so they are confident in offering assistance when requested e.g. reading a menu out loud or writing down a price.
• Provide parking for disabled customers or make sure staff know where the nearest parking is located.

One thought on “Call for West Midlands high streets to be more disabled-friendly

  1. How about making the city centre public transport (buses) at least moderately disabled-friendly by reinstating all those bus stops in Corporation Street, Stevenson Street, Navigation Street, Bull Street which Centro so “helpfully” removed with absolutely zero consultation of bus users?

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