The resources are incredible. They point out what difficulties someone with disability may have and how you can overcome it.

When COVID-19 meant businesses had to close their doors for months on end, it meant that Access Fylde Coast could not carry on visiting businesses in person and continue helping business become more accessible with out free help.

So, we got out thinking caps on, and we offered more free online disability awareness training sessions for businesses to prepare to continue to enhance their businesses when they could finally open.

Our Corona Virus easy reads and social distance advice we put together after talking to people with disabilities and asking them what barriers they face with social distancing, we were able to help businesses reopen in a way which was accessible to everyone.

Katherine from Mary, Tom and Friends, a gift shop in Fleetwood, was one business owner who put lockdown to good use to ensure she was doing all she could to be accessible to people, not just with physical disabilities, but sensory too.

Katherine took part in our free online disability awareness training and praised our approach.

“The resources are incredible. They point out what difficulties someone with disability may have and how you can overcome it – and it costs nothing – I can’t praise it highly enough.”

We first visited Katherine in 2019 at her previous shop premises in Fleetwood and when she moved, although our access champions revisited, Katherine felt really confident to put in place accessible changes she had already learned to consider.

“Access Fylde Coast helped me to make my property more accessible and when I moved to a new property, Access Fylde Coast were the first people I called as I wanted to get it right and that everyone could access my shop, “ says Katherine.

“A simple change was the height of the cash desk and buying a lower one, it made it easier.  But that changed everything for someone with a disability. “

She also bought display units which were slightly narrower, so that people could move easier around her shop.  

“It didn’t cost me anything to become accessible,” she adds.

And, it’s great to know that Katherine is now aware and confident of making changing to welcome anyone with a disability into her gift shop.

She was also keen to talk to Steph Syson, who is registered blind, to find out how she found the shopping experience at Mary, Tom and Friends.

After pointing out a tactile issue at a step, Katherine made the change straight away and got the thumbs up from Steph, who shops with her guide dog Darcey.

“All people need to do is ask, and it can make the world of difference to someone with a disability, and it is great to see business owners like Katherine taking the time to ask.”

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