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City Named Most "Disability Friendly" In UK
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 1, 2004

NEWPORT, WALES--The Disability Rights Commission has named Newport as a top city in the United Kingdom for being accessible to people with disabilities.

According to a DRC press release, "mystery" shoppers with and without disabilities were sent into several cities with instructions to buy an article of clothing, take in a movie, go to a pub, and have lunch. Then they were to rate the accessibility features of those businesses, along with the attitudes of owners and employees toward patrons with disabilities.

In Newport, the shoppers reported that staff in cafes, pubs, and buses were particularly alert and helpful to their needs.

"It was one of the few city centres I've visited which was totally disabled-person friendly," commented one shopper.

Still, the surveyors found a lack of large print signs and menus for partially-sighted shoppers, along with few accessible main entrances.

Across the country, shoppers with disabilities found shopping trips took them about two hours longer than their counterparts without disabilities. Nearly one-fourth of the 88 major stores visited were considered "poor" or "very poor" by the shoppers. Nearly one-half of those with disabilities rated their movie-going experience "poor" or "very poor". Three cinemas could not be entered at all.

Eighty percent said they ran into problems with a lack of space between tables in restaurants, cafes, and pubs.

Businesses are supposed to make "reasonable adjustments" to be accessible under the third and final phase of Britain's Disability Discrimination Act 1995, which goes into effect October 1. Those who fail to comply could face legal actions and fines.

The Commission reminded readers that there are about 10 million people with disabilities in the UK, with an annual spending power of £50 ($90 U.S.) billion a year.

"Welsh city outperforms others on disability access but challenges remain" (Disability Rights Commission)


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