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Could Ilford high street shops be saved with soft lighting and chairs?

PUBLISHED: 12:02 31 May 2019 | UPDATED: 12:02 31 May 2019

Ilford could gain more customers but being more accessible a charity claim. Picture: Ken Mears

Ilford could gain more customers but being more accessible a charity claim. Picture: Ken Mears

Archant

With many household names shutting up shop on the high street, most will agree that something needs to be done to revive it.

According to one Redbridge organisation, £11.4billion pounds is lost each year by stores not addressing accessibility issues in the UK.

Disabled person's charity, One Place East, Ilford Lane, is launching a shopping guide to raise awareness about the issue.

Jon Abrams, of One Place East said nearly one in five people in the country have a disability and stores could tap into an annual spending power of £249billion by making small changes.

"Everyone deserves to be able to go shopping or enjoy a meal or drink with their friends or colleagues," he said.

"Disabled people are not an exception, and we are calling on high street shops and facilities to look at what more they can do to better cater for disabled people.

"The Equality Act 2010 requires shops to make reasonable adjustments and to remove barriers to ensure that disabled people can access goods and services in the same way as someone who is not disabled.

"We have, therefore, produced a guide with tips and recommendations to improve access."

The guide shares the problems disabled people face when shopping for goods and also highlights four issues which can be adapted without too much hassle.

Fluorescent lighting and loud music could be swapped for softer bulbs and calming melodies to help those who have autism, epilepsy and migraines.

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Extra seats, especially in changing rooms or by tills could help customers who use walking aids as it can be hard to perform task with your hands - such as counting money - when you are reliant on a stick.

Removing street clutter such as advertising board can make a massive difference to disabled people.

Outdoor signs not only pose a tripping hazard to people with visual impairments but it can make it difficult for people in wheelchair or prams to navigate the area.

The guide also stresses the importance of step-free access and says even one step is a barrier and flat surface is much more inviting.

It said every shop should be fully accessible for people using a walking aid, scooter, wheelchair or pram, and portable ramps can help with this.

Redbridge councillor, Rosa Gomez, backs the initiative and said the guide is "very much long overdue".

"I fully support its contents as someone who has a visual and physical impairment," she said.

"Business is already losing millions of pounds by not making premises accessible- this is an essential task for them.

" I also look forward to businesses going further by employing people with disabilities who better understand the needs of disabled customers."

The guide will be launched outside Ilford Exchange, High Road, on Tuesday, June 4 at 1.30pm.

For more information call 02089252435

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