Monthly Archives: November 2020

Making Connections: Access Rating’s new App to promote Accessibility

Access Rating logo

Many thanks to Access Rating for this guest blog describing their services and free mobile app.

We were so pleased when Talking Mats invited us to write a post for them this week. There is such a great need for disability-related organisations to connect and share right now. COVID 19 has had a devastating effect on us all, but particularly on disabled people, who are facing even greater barriers across health, employment and access every day. A joined-up approach to delivering our services has never been so important.

About Access Rating

Access Rating Blog Photo

We are Access Rating; a social enterprise which seeks to create opportunities for disabled people to work, live and socialise with the same freedoms as non-disabled people. We provide a range of services, from employability support for disabled people, to access audits for businesses, to help them create more accessible venues and services.

Always striving to find innovative ways to promote access for disabled people, we have recently launched our Access Rating mobile app.  This simple online tool allows disabled people to rate their access experiences of any venue they visit in the UK. In turn, accessible venues can attract more disabled customers from their positive recommendations …whilst encouraging those a little behind, to follow suit.

That’s a lot of work, but we’re not alone; Access Rating is just one cog in a wider society of individuals, communities and organisations which support disabled people throughout their life journey. Each of us plays our part in empowering disabled people to reach their potential and exercise their rights as they choose. And the impact of what we achieve depends very much on those who support us in our efforts.

The ‘Purple Poundas an Incentive for better Access

The Access Rating app has the potential to be a game-changer within the quiet world of retail and hospitality accessibility. We say ‘quiet’, because it is. Despite current legislation and the tireless work of countless organisations, too many businesses still don’t understand what it means to be fully accessible.  And without an access-specific platform for disabled people to voice their opinions on these venues, there has been little incentive for businesses to get on board. The app hopes to change this by increasing visibility of good – and not so good – practice.

However, there is another factor which may be influencing accessibility in the right direction.

With the crushing impact of COVID19 restrictions, more struggling businesses are turning their focus to the value of the ‘Purple Pound’ – that’s the spending power of disabled people, their families and friends. And at £274 billion in the UK each year, and rising, businesses have a lot to gain; with so few accessible venues around, disabled people are likely to become loyal customers to those who actively seek to cater for their needs.

It is timely then, that our Access Rating app serves as an incentive for businesses to ‘up their game’. And the more venues that are rated, the greater the motivation for them to maintain their good name – or begin building it.

Connection is the key word here. Everything works better when we work together. And that’s why we’re asking you to help us spread the word, by rating the venues you visit.

Download the Access Rating App: Your Opinion really counts!

The Access Rating mobile app is free, easy-to-use and nation-wide in its reach. So whether you are disabled, live with, or work with someone who is disabled, we invite you to download the app directly from the links below, or from our Access Rating website. By taking just a few moments to rate any venue you visit –  be that a hotel, library or shopping centre –  you can help to make our society a more inclusive and enjoyable place to live, work and socialise for disabled people across the UK.

We thank Lois from Talking Mats for the opportunity to connect and share our news, and are delighted to have made new friends who share our passion for building a more inclusive society.

Visit the Access Rating website for further information or download the app directly from Apple and Android stores.

 

RCSLT Survey on Access to Speech and Language Therapy

RCSLT COVID

Many thanks to Peter Just, Head of External Affairs, RCSLT and Padraigin O’Flynn, External Affairs Assistant, RCSLT for this blog describing the newly launched UK-wide RCSLT Survey, which includes free Talking Mats resources to support those with communication difficulties to have their voices heard.

Like many of you, the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) has been worried about the impact of COVID-19 on people with communication and swallowing needs. Based on what we’ve heard from our members, service user organisations and service users themselves we’ve been very concerned about how the UK-wide lockdown (March-June 2020) affected people’s access to the speech and language therapy they and their families and carers need. 

To help us understand the issue better and to inform our response, we’ve just launched a UK-wide survey. Following consultation with service user organisations, the three key questions we’re asking are: 

  • How did lockdown affect your speech and language therapy? 
  • What impact did this have on you? 
  • What are your thoughts about the future? 

From the start, we were clear: we wanted the survey to be as accessible as possible to as many people as possible, no matter how they communicate and no matter what their communication preference is. Over the past couple of months, we’ve worked with members to produce the survey in a range of accessible formats.  

We’re particularly delighted that one of those formats is Talking Mats – and we’re very grateful to Lois and Laura for all their advice and support . As you will know better than anyone, the mats will enable people to give us their views and tell us how they’ve felt and are feeling. We are delighted the mats will provide people with the means to self-advocate – this will add a richness to the survey findings that they might otherwise lack.  

Talking Mats

Well be working with service user organisations to promote the survey to their networks. But we’d also really like your help too. Please share the survey and encourage as many people as possible to fill it out. The more voices we hear, the more stories we collect and the more responses we receive, the greater the impact of the survey findings will be. 

Those findings, which we hope to publish early in the New Year, will be used to influence Governments, Parliaments and Assemblies across the United Kingdom. The case that will be making to ministers, officials and parliamentarians – that people must have access to the speech and language therapy they need – will be all the stronger for it being based on service users’ lived experiences. The very powerful testimony that the mats will provide will strengthen that case even further. 

The survey is open until 5pm on Friday, 8th January 2021 and you can find more information about it here: 

https://www.rcslt.org/learning/has-coronavirus-affected-your-access-to-speech-and-language-therapy 

We hope you find the mats useful and if you had any queries or wanted any more information, please let us know. We look forward to working with you to help make a difference to the lives of people with communication and swallowing needs. 

Peter Just, Head of External Affairs, RCSLT 

Padraigin O’Flynn External Affairs Assistant, RCSLT