Disabled Shopping

So You Advertise As Accessible?

So, You’re Accessible? – Many companies and retailers advertise as being “Accessible” but what does this actually mean? Does it tell me if you have any steps in and around your premises? No! Does it tell me how high your counters are? No! So the fact you are advertising yourself as “Accessible”, gives me and other disabled people NO information whatsoever! Not only that, but you are probably also in breach of the Equality Act 2010!

Claiming to be Accessible Doesn’t Mean You Are Accessible!

So, You’re Accessible? – As a company or retailer, advertising as being “accessible” and then giving no further information, means you are not being as inclusive as you would like to think! Just because I CAN enter your premises, does NOT make you an accessible company.

Your interpretation of accessibility will most probably be completely different to those of a disabled person! There are many things you need to have in place before you can warrant yourself the title of being an “Accessible” company.

I am a full-time wheelchair user and my accessibility needs would differ from those who say are deaf or blind, I can not climb steps but a deaf person would most likely manage them. My arms are very weak and I can’t raise them up past my midriff, therefore using card machines on a counter is extremely difficult but yet, again a deaf or blind person would most probably find it easier to use.

Being Accessible

So, You're Accessible - Equality Act 2010 & Buildings Regulation compliant Disabled Toilet
Equality Act 2010 & Buildings Regulation compliant Disabled Toilet

Disabled toilets, do you have a unisex one as well as male/female ones? Some disabled people have carers who are of the opposite sex. They would need to use a unisex toilet.

Changing rooms, the above would also apply. The amount of times my husband has been refused to come in a changing room with me is shocking, to say the least.

When shopping for new bras in a very well known high street chain. My husband couldn’t come in with me as it was a female changing room. When asked if there were any unisex changing room, I was told no. I asked where the disabled changing room was, it was in the female changing room section.

When I argued the point that he was my carer and I could not try on the bras without his help and the fact I shouldn’t be expected to have a complete stranger help me with such intimate form of help, especially when they are at fault for not providing a unisex changing room, my husband was eventually allowed in to help me.

The other side of the coin is companies that do have these amenities but then use them for other purposes. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have been to restaurants, clothing shops and found the changing room or disabled toilet being used as a storage room. Using these amenities outside of its intended purpose is again, NOT being inclusive. I STILL can’t use them!! So yes, having these features may make you accessible but you ARE NOT USABLE!!

So What Is Accessible?

When a disabled person wishes to visit your premises, we need to know quite a few things to allow our visit to be as hassle-free as possible. I don’t want to read/hear the words “Yes, we are accessible”, only to turn up and find that actually, you’re not accessible at all. We need to know things like the following (this is only a fraction of the information we may need):

  • Are you level throughout your premises?
  • Do you have any steps? If so, how many and how high (most electric wheelchair users can cope with one small step)
  • Do you have a unisex disabled toilet?
  • Are your changing rooms unisex? Do you have a disabled changing room?
  • Restaurants, how high are your tables, I need to know if my knees will go under the table as I am in quite a high wheelchair?
  • Do you supply large print menus?
  • Hearing loops?
  • Height of your customer counters?
  • Hotels, do you offer wet rooms?
  • How high is the sink in your wet room?
  • Does the shower/toilet have grab rails, if so, where are they and are they horizontal/vertical?
  • Do you have lifts?
  • Can you supply letters in braille?

Accessibility Fail

When accessibility fails on a mega scale, it is very distressing, soul-destroying and extremely frustrating to say the very least. My husband booked a hotel for a surprise long weekend in Cornwall. He phoned the hotel first to check out its accessibility, they answered all his questions and assured him all would be fine.

We turned up at the hotel only to find a list of accessibility failures:

  • There was a flight of steps leading up to the entrance. No problem said the hotel, just use the trades entrance round the back!
  • Our room was upstairs, the lift was a very tight squeeze, if I had my electric chair I have now, I wouldn’t have got in!
  • A step down the middle of the hallway leading to our room, the step was over 5 inches high
  • My manual wheelchair would not fit through the bathroom door, again, not a problem said the hotel, we’ll remove the door for you!
  • The disabled bathroom was NOT a wet room, it had a bath with a glass door across it, I had to get my husband to help me shuffle across the floor from the bathroom door entrance to the toilet so I could use the damn thing!
  • No room on either side of the bed to park my wheelchair.
  • The patio doors leading to the garden area had a very high step.
  • When in the restaurant, hubby had to get my food at the buffet as the room was so small. Hubby would have to go see what was available, come back and tell me, then go back to fetch it!

Not How To Resolve Issues

When things do go wrong and you get a complaint, here is a prime example of how NOT to deal with it!

To add insult to injury, when we complained to the hotel manager, he was rude, obnoxious and accused us of lying only to get a refund. I told him to check with the staff member who offered to take the bathroom door off for us. He still wasn’t having it.

I told him he could stick his refund, that was not what this was about. The hotel was advertising as being “wheelchair Accessible” when clearly it didn’t even come close.

How To Improve

  1. Make sure you are actually accessible BEFORE advertising as so.
  2. If you are unsure of the accessibility features you should have (some are business dependant), ask!! There are many of us only too happy to advise you on accessibility needs, Some do it as a business!!
  3. Give disabled people more information. Have a section on your website explaining how you are accessible.
  4. If something is out of order, like lifts, let us know!

It really isn’t that difficult to be Equality Act 2010 compliant!!

If you liked my blog, leave a comment below. If you would like to work with me, or if there is anything you would like me to blog about, don’t hesitate to Contact Me.

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Victoria Secrets logo asking if 24 inch waist is plus size?

When does a waist size 24″ become “Plus Size”? When Victoria Secrets says so!!

Supposedly, Victoria Secrets believe a 24″ waist is a plus-size – Barbara Palvin has a waist size of 24″ and social media has gone mad complaining that VS believe her to be a plus-size model? Is it just me or is this a very frightening situation? If true, what message is this sending to our children, how does this affect people who already struggle with their weight? Should the fashion industry take more responsibility?

Angry With The Fashion Industry

Victoria Secrets says 24" waist is a plus-size - Barbara Palvin - Victoria Secrets new angel with 24 inch waist

I have struggled with my weight most of my life due to my disability, more so, since becoming a full-time wheelchair user over 15 years ago. When shopping for clothes or nice underwear, I don’t want to be made to feel ashamed of my weight or body shape, simply because the fashion industry tells me I am not what is deemed pretty, or the correct size.

When fashion companies come along and tell me that a woman who has a 24″ waist is “plus-size”, I get very angry and feel extremely let down by that company. I walk away from that company, rather than be enticed to spend my money on their products.

(source: Barbara Palvin model profile).

Who gives them the right to tell us (consumers) what is deemed beautiful? I always believe beauty is in the eye of the beholder! We all have our own idea of what beauty is and the fashion industry is trying to make beauty tunnel-visioned!! The fashion industry should be the one place that is inclusive to ALL, not discriminatory and negative! After all, EVERY single person in the world wears clothes, so why exclude potential customers because of weight, size or anything else?

The fashion industry has the power to change perceptions about beauty. It has the power to show that everyone is beautiful and unique in their own way…….Remember “United Colours of Benetton”?

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During the mid-90s and early noughties, United Colors of Benetton was arguably one of the world’s most recognisable fashion brands. Both famous and infamous, the striking visuals of their adverts (at times entirely bereft of any reference to their products), political posturing and diverse roster of models made them influential in both fashion and pop culture.

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Source: https://medium.com/@yomiadegoke/united-colors-of-benetton-blazed-a-trail-for-diversity-in-fashion-a61746de0517

This shows just how powerful the fashion industry can be when it wants to be!

24 Inch Waist Is What??

Can you imagine, you’re a 25-year-old model, you spend every day working extremely hard to keep your body in great shape. You get your dream job and then you are advertised to the world as “plus-size”? Allegedly, that’s exactly what Victoria Secrets have done to Barbara Palvin. It’s alleged they have claimed Barbara Palvin is their first “plus-size” model.

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Barbara Palvin might have recently received coveted Victoria’s Secret angel status, but already her new gig is attracting some controversy. Says Elle Australia. But a Facebook post sharing the news has received mass criticism for labelling Palvin “the first plus size Victoria’s Secret angel”.

The post, on the ‘Superficial Doll’ Facebook group, attracted more than 16,000 comments, with many followers wondering what exactly constituted “plus-size” in the VS realm given Palvin was nowhere near a typical plus-size model’s measurements.

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“If she is plus size I’m truck size,” one commentator joked.

Source: https://www.elle.com.au/news/barbara-palvin-plus-size-20122

If that isn’t bad enough, this tells anyone with a waist size greater than 24 inches that they are FAT!!!! Un-bloody-believable!! Any company that I feel are dictating to me what I should wear, look like, behave like, etc. I am much more likely to walk away from that company than spend my money with them.

When you are telling me that 24″ waist is plus-size, then I’m horrified. I won’t spend my money with a company that makes me feel like I’m enormous. Why would they deserve my money over a company that supplies lovely clothing for the larger lady? Just not logical to me.

I’ve contacted VS for their opinion (waiting on their response, I doubt they will respond), I will keep on until I get a response though. We deserve to know their thoughts on this matter, don’t we?

No-one, especially a company that makes money from fashion has the right or authority to decide what is/isn’t beautiful and push that idea onto consumers, certainly, NOT VS.

The Damage

Many years ago when my weight was at its all-time high, we had booked a holiday, I needed a couple of evening dresses, so I searched and searched. Could I find any dresses that were in my size? Not bloody likely and if I did, they looked like sacks or rags.

I became so depressed, I felt enormous, undervalued as a person. The fashion industry made me feel so low about my body shape/size, I actually considered not going on my holiday.

I also have a 16-year-old daughter who is aware of her appearance and wants to look good. She is what I would class as on the thinner side wearing size 8-10 clothing. When companies advertise skinny women claiming them to be the “perfect size/physique” I am mortified.

My daughter already says she is fat and these images are doing nothing to help her feel confidant about her appearance! There is enough body shaming on social media as it is, the fashion industry should be addressing this rather than adding to it!!

I am furious at how the fashion industry is so behind the times. People are not all one size like the fashion industry models, people are not ALL under a 24-inch size waist. You have tall people, short people, disabled people, young people, old people etc. etc.

I am shocked at how bad buying clothes is right now. You shop for a particular size, in one shop that size is too big, another shop, that size is too small….What the hell is going on?? Surely, a size 16 skirt should fit the same wherever it is purchased from? The fashion industry is cheating its customers!!

Why won’t the fashion industry pull itself into the 21st century and adopt an ALL-INCLUSIVE industry suitable for the very people they want as customers?? It makes no business sense to me. Yes, I know each company want their own style/brand but they could be doing a lot more!

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If you liked my blog, leave a comment below. If you would like to work with me, or if there is anything you would like me to blog about, don’t hesitate to Contact Me.

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