As businesses and venues prepare to welcome back visitors a group of experts have produced guidance to ensure no-one is left behind.
Businesses and venues need to consider how they need to reopen safely and attract back customers, ensuring their service works for everyone.
Covid-19 is having a greater impact on people with disabilities. Some will be particularly at risk of infection and understandably very cautious about visiting a public venue. Others will be particularly impacted by the new behaviours undertaken to try and control the virus’ spread e.g. lip readers struggle with standard face masks.
A collaboration of experts from the Disability Collaborative Network along with researchers from UEA created the EMBED Reopening Recommendations Support Service: https://embed.org.uk/covid-19-reopening.
This service helps organisations reopen with a particular focus on how they can remain accessible to people with disabilities.
It considers potential barriers faced by disabled visitors and customers and offers guidance for organisations aimed at keeping staff, volunters visitors, students or customers as safe as possible.
The guidance is based on experience of accessibility for disabled and neurodiverse people and reflects the known evidence and research about COVID-19 at the time of writing.
These actions are recommendations which provide useful, practical and pragmatic actions to support reopening and can be used to underpin government, sector and industry specific advice.
This guidance has been designed as a living document and will continue to evolve in line with the latest government advice on COVID 19.
Dr Katherine Deane, Senior Lecturer in Research and Access Ambassador at UEA is one of the authors. She is a researcher in healthcare and a wheelchair user herself.
Dr Deane said “I wanted to make sure that as we come out of lockdown nobody is left behind. The interaction of the virus with disability is complex and we hope these recommendations will help organisations to be as accessible as possible.”