A campaign led by a trio of disabled Leicestershire tech-entrepreneurs received a major boost today with the announcement that Martyn Sibley would be involved.
Sibley, who will join the board, is the creator of Disability Horizons magazine, Accomable, and one of the Disability Power 100 list’s ‘Most Influential Disabled People.’
Sibley’s appointment and addition to the board of the CIC could be a game-changer in terms of credibly – and quickly – accessing the disability community, given his media profile.
The app, Access Rating, which is a Community Interest Company (CIC), aims to encourage equal accessibility by empowering both users and venues alike by listing and independently reviewing which of our city and county businesses are truly accessible to those with mobility needs.
Fundamental to the app is the unique ability for users to post reviews and comments and offer ratings about venues they have visited and experiences they have had.
Developed to act like a Trustpilot for the disabled traveller, the aim is for the app to create a real-life, real-time knowledge bank for disabled users by disabled users – and to, ultimately, make life easier, as the more users get involved and post their reviews, the more that knowledge multiplies, for the greater good.
It is hoped that this bank of experiences will then empower business operators to make positive changes, helping them overcome obstacles often unseen by more able-bodied individuals – be that as seemingly simple as drop kerbs, accessible lifts, or suitable toilet facilities.
Access Rating’s slogan is: “The power to improve disabled access, one rating at a time”.
Free to download and easy to post reviews, the app has been founded and developed over lockdown by a trio of Leicestershire-based entrepreneurs – all with their own personal mobility needs: Mark Esho – an award winning entrepreneur and number one ranking author; Richard Copson and Jignesh Vaidya.
Sibley commented: “I think Access Rating solves a really important need. As a wheelchair user myself, I think it’s obvious the barriers I’ve faced around not knowing if I can get in to a venue, right through to not knowing if there is an accessible toilet I can use, amongst other things.
“All these kinds of factors have been big issues over the years, but I think Access Rating is going to be able to help that”.
At the same time as empowering the disabled community, it is hoped that the review function of the app – alongside direct outreach from the Access Rating team – will encourage more business owners to improve their accessibility for disabled customers.
And there is a clear financial, as well as moral, reason for doing so: the collective spending power and influence of the disabled community is called the ‘purple pound’.
It is estimated that one in five working adults have a disability in the UK and there are 13.3 million disabled people in the UK. These households have a spending power of over £249 billion – and that is growing, as more people are given greater knowledge, visibility and access – thanks to apps like Access Rating.