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61% of people with a disability in Yorkshire admit they avoid going to their local high street

A study of 2,000 adults with some form of mental or physical disability shows more than four in 10 are unable to visit their local shops because there are facing barriers preventing a comfortable shopping experience.

Narrow aisles, small doorways and end-of-aisle special offer display stands are a nightmare for some.

Millions of British adults are unable to carry out basic daily tasks such as buying milk - due to accessibility issues on the high street. Credit: PA

But while physically disabled people are sometimes recognised for their inability to navigate a store or understand what services are available, for those with hidden impairments the story can be very different.

Of those people who have some form of mental disability, nine in 10 don't want to draw attention to their internal struggle, and 47 per cent find it difficult to communicate to others what their needs are.

In response to the research, Skipton Building Society have become the first financial services provider to partner with AccessAble, an organisation which enables people to view Detailed Accessibility Guides for a variety of their partners from hotels to shops and restaurants.

The partnership with AccessAble will allow members of the public to view thorough information on all of Skipton's branches, including everything from where the nearest disabled parking is to details to help customers to move around each of its branches.

Jacqui Bateson, Senior Proposition Manager, at Skipton Building Society said:

As a nation we are becoming more aware of the challenges and barriers disabled people face, but clearly there is still a long way to go, particularly on the high street.

"The study highlights the real need for businesses to take action, to address the needs of everyone, whether that's someone who is a wheelchair user, a parent with a pram or someone who find crowded or loud spaces distressing.

"The reality is that there are many people out there who need extra assistance when on the high street to make sure they have the best experience.

"Researchers found for those with physical disabilities, having to navigate crowds of people, staircases and car parks can be a nightmare."

– Jacqui Bateson, Senior Proposition Manager

Other difficulties for those less physically able included a lack; of ramps (15 per cent), changing rooms which aren't big enough (18 per cent) and revolving doors (20 per cent).

While a further quarter don't like the idea of being looked at, 36 per cent can't cope with the noise levels and queuing is stressful for three in 10.

As such, six in 10 disabled adults with avoid going to the high street whenever they can.

Paralympian, Hannah Cockroft, MBE has partnered with Skipton Building Society to create a short film which looks at some of the accessibility issues on the high street, bringing to life the research and daily challenges that people often face with inaccessibility.

Commenting on her experience during filming, Hannah Crockroft said:

It actually really shocked me how inaccessible a lot of places on a typical high street are.

"I think that it's important to point out that accessibility isn't something that just effects people with a disability, anyone could break their leg one day, and suddenly need access and that's when you realise just how important this is.

"Taking part in this film has demonstrated to me that if we don't go and question inaccessibility, it is never going to change. The more people that raise their voices, the more things are going to change for the better.

"I'm really proud to partner with Skipton Building Society and to have their support on a situation that a lot of us face every day, but I can guarantee everyone will experience inaccessibility once in their life."

– Paralympian, Hannah Cockroft

Yorkshire regions statistics:

  • 61% of people with a physical or mental disability in Yorkshire admit they avoid going to their local high street.
  • When asked if they have ever turned back home before completing their shopping, because they found the experience too stressful - 45% said yes. And 27% said it has caused them to have a panic attack.
  • 30% admit they sometimes are unable to carry out basic daily tasks such as posting a letter or buying milk due to the accessibility issues they face on the high street.

When it comes to the main causes of difficulties for accessibility in Yorkshire, people said the following:

  • 32% Narrow shopping aisles
  • 39% too many stairs
  • 49% crowds of people
  • 22% Narrow doorways
  • 21% changing rooms been too small
  • 11% more than one in 10 find music in stores is played too loud

Everyone will experience inaccessibility, at least once in their life.