Charities call for the UK's top tourist attractions to become wheelchair accessible

Just 13 per cent said their staff received disability awareness training

Charity chiefs have criticised the recent findings of a survey that revealed nearly two-thirds of the country’s most popular visitor attractions are not accessible to wheelchair users.

The charity Vitalise, which promotes services for disabled people and their carers, approached Britain’s 100 top tourist destinations and asked if they were accessible to individuals in wheelchairs - of those that responded, just 27 per cent said they were fully wheelchair accessible.

Ted Hill, CEO of the British Polio Fellowship, called on the attractions to make themselves open to all, as well as polio sufferers.

“Many of our members are consigned to a wheelchair or suffer from reduced mobility due to the effects of Polio and PPS and it is our duty as a charity to encourage initiatives to make this country more accessible,” he said.

“I believe the UK to be amongst the leaders in equal opportunities and diversity, but clearly the attractions involved in this survey do not get the message.”

According to Government figures, there are more than 11 million people with some form of limiting long term illness, impairment or disability in the UK. This represents a huge group that are effectively locked out of some of the country’s most famed sites.

A quarter of the sites that responded to the survey had no dedicated disabled parking bays and just 13 per cent said their staff received disability awareness training.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach was embarrassed recently when a staff member refused to allow a disabled 14 year-old on a ride, with an accessible ramp, because he could not walk unaided. A spokesman later said the resort was launching a comprehensive review of its policies.

Vitalise’s chief executive, Chris Simmonds, lamented the lack of accessibility to tourist spots and the information available to disabled people, as almost three-quarters of attractions contacted had no information regarding accessibility on their websites.

“These venues need to work just as hard on how they communicate essential accessibility information to people with disabilities,” Mr Simmonds noted, before adding:

“Our own research shows two thirds of disabled people decide against visiting attractions because of a lack of clear information about how accessible it is."

It is not only in service and public settings that disabled people encounter issues. In the workplace disabled people are significantly more likely to experience discrimination. A Government study found that 19 per cent of disabled people suffered unfair discrimination at work, compared to 13 per cent of non-disabled people.