Today I had the honour of taking part in a panel as part of the “Beyond A Joke” strand of the “Leicester Comedy Festival”. The subject was the “Purple Pound” (as in the money spent or withheld by Disabled people).
Taking part with me were the owner of a Design Company, the Disability Access Representative from Leicester City Council, and a lady from the Phoenix Theatre in Leicester.
If I am totally honest my heart sank to the floor when I learned the first two were going to be on the panel. I thought they were going to tell me how wrong I have been about everything connected with Disability Accessibility. You know – the kind of people who will show you in a textbook what all the rules and regulations are – and refuse to believe anybody else?
I was pleasantly surprised when both of them said exactly what I have been saying all along – you need to design people’s needs into buildings. There is no point in having a brilliant building if people cannot access the contents for whatever reason. Nor is there any point in people not being able to do what they went into the building for without feeling either patronised or excluded.
The “Purple Pound” not is not only the first weapon of Disabled people (I have been known to walk out of shops, etc, and never go back for a repeat visit after a disastrous experience) but it is a weapon which can be (and is) used by people we tell about any bad experience we have.
We should have got past the stage where Disabled people are seen as too much hard work to cater for when it comes to giving them the same opportunities as the rest of the population long ago.
I feek really sorry for the organisations who still think that a large proportion of the spending power of the UK is not welcome just because Disabled people are the ones trying to spend it and help the economy.