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Accessibility is not an afterthought!

The UK government have issued an apology to Israeli minister, Karine Elharrar, after she was unable to attend the COP26 summit on Monday as the venue was not wheelchair friendly.

Organisers of the event stated the chosen venue holds gold level accessibility with other entrances being accessible by wheelchair. But with 14.1 million people in the UK being disabled, that’s one in five of us, isn’t it time that all entrances of venues be accessible for all?

In the 2021 UK disability survey, over a quarter of the disabled respondents (10,1780), said they had difficulty accessing public buildings. From lack of disabled toilets to ramps, there are a number of barriers faced by someone with a disability when they go out. The majority of these issues were said to have been faced when visiting shops, cafes, restaurants and bars, all places where you would expect anyone to be able to visit.

If a venue is not accessible for disabled visitors, then how is it possibly accessible for a disabled employee? The House of Commons Library published a survey earlier this year that stated 52.3% of disabled people are in employment, which is 28.8% lower than those who are not disabled.

It isn’t just public buildings that aren’t accessible to those with disabilities. 53% of the disabled people who carried out the UK’s disability survey said that their homes completely or largely met their living needs. Indicating that many disabled people live in homes that do not meet their needs.

A COP26 spokesperson announced that they look forward to welcoming the Israeli minister for today’s event, so the venue will now be accessible for Karine, but when will accessibility stop being an afterthought?