Blue Badge Style – bringing the issue of ‘access’ to the forefront of hospitality

Blue badge styleBlue Badge Style, the first app and website guide to a stylish lifestyle for the less-able, has been appointed a member of the British Hospitality Association in a bid to bring accessibility to the forefront of the industry’s attention. With her mobile app and Pictorial Access Description system the BBS Founder, Fiona Jarvis, hopes to help make British hospitality more accessible for everyone.

“The blue pound – the market for people with disabilities– is estimated to be worth £2billion a year.  It’s absolutely crucial that the British Hospitality Association, with its pivotal role as industry leader, sets the standard for people who are less-able.  Creating and generating online information about facilities and accessibility for disabled customers should be a priority across hospitality and tourist destinations,” Jarvis says.

Jarvis believes that there are simple ways to make the hospitality industry more accessible. In 2013 AccessChamp research featuring 276 members of Disabled Motoring UK found that 92.1% of less able visitors seek information online but only 16.8% feel that they can always get enough information about the facilities. 75.2% respondents believed hotels should create a specific brochure on accessibility information. Since the facilities are often already there, the key thing is getting the information out to potential customers. If venues could make such information available it would be a low cost way to improve the service they provide for visitors with disabilities. Little things make big differences.

Blue Badge Style’s research corroborated these findings and the organisation has developed a detailed yet easily navigable solution. Pictorial Access Descriptions (PADs), assess a venue from the point of view of a customer with multiple disabilities, giving them a high-quality, pictorial journey through a venue, which highlights the disabled facilities in public areas and rooms, as well as any potential obstacles. Already used at the Hoxton Hotel, the PAD arrives as a social media-ready tool, matching the style of the venue and can be posted to a website, Facebook, Pinterest etc.

The PADs will enable venues to reveal their facilities and access in style, showing that they can offer guests cool comfort, not just access statement compliance. “It’s about letting people know what to expect. People with disabilities can cope with a lot; we just need to know what’s coming.” Jarvis says. “They say a picture’s worth a thousand words. That’s why we think that the best way to present a venue’s accessibility is through our Pictorial Access Descriptions: we want to let the PADs speak for themselves!”

Martin Couchman, Deputy CEO of the British Hospitality Association, said:  “With an ever expanding and ageing population the blue pound – the market for people with disabilities – is only set to get bigger.  Embracing technology like PADs is one way for hospitality and tourism businesses to help overcome the challenges less-able people currently face when they’re looking to stay in a hotel in the UK or eat out.  Our industry takes great pride in understanding customer needs and creating positive experiences, and we’re delighted to have Blue Badge Style on board as a BHA member.”

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