A Reviewer Story: Why I’m getting involved in Disabled Access Day.

Euan's Guide, 2016, guest blog

A Reviewer Story: Why I’m getting involved in Disabled Access Day.

Earlier this week we caught up with Gary Smith, Euan’s Guide Reviewer of the Year 2014, to talk about why Disabled Access Day is important. Gary lives in Edinburgh and is a powerchair user, on 12th March he will be heading to London to explore some of the Capital’s sites. Find out why he thinks Disabled Access Day is a great opportunity for disabled people and businesses to try new things.

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How did you find out about Disabled Access Day?

I’m a reviewer for Euan’s Guide and I first heard about Disabled Access Day through their website. I love the idea of Disabled Access Day: so much of what you hear about disabled access is negative, it’s often about what you can’t do and where you can’t go. This day is a really positive and fun way to try something new and I can’t wait until 12th March when I will head to London.

Last year, I wasn’t in the country for the first event so I am really excited to be able to get involved this year.

Why is Disabled Access Day important?

Access should be for everyone and it should be every day, but we have to start somewhere and Disabled Access Day is a great day for trying new things for both people and businesses.

It’s a great day to show everyone what is possible, allowing venues to open doors and enable businesses to gain confidence. It’s a good opportunity for venues to try something new too, like a tactile tour or BSL tour and get feedback directly from their customers. Sometimes businesses can be nervous about getting it wrong, but it’s not just about the physical access, it’s the smaller things that can make a big difference. For example, great customer service and a warm welcome mean a lot to me and can make or break my experience at a venue.

When I visited Gleneagles in 2014 in advance of the Ryder Cup, I was unsure about what the access would be like but it far exceeded my expectations. The staff were really friendly and listened to my feedback when I spoke to them on the day. It’s great that Disabled Access Day provides a day for people to be able to give open and honest feedback directly to venues just like I did at Gleneagles. I think it gives people confidence, knowing that the venues are listening, after all otherwise they wouldn’t be involved in the day.  

When I spoke to my friend last year who was involved he said that the most memorable thing he took away from the day was that he was able to visit places he never thought were accessible. For me, that’s what is really exciting about Disabled Access Day, having the opportunity to visit a venue that perhaps I normally wouldn’t consider visiting, knowing there are people on hand to ask questions and feedback to means a lot.

Where will you go on 12th March?

I’m excited to be going to London, I have lots planned for the day! At the moment my plans are to go to the Imperial War Museum in the morning, I’ve always fancied going there but just never got around to it and they have lots planned for the day. I also want to visit the Canal Museum, some friends of mine went there last year and told me great things about it.

I’m an Annie Lennox fan so I’m also hoping to get to her talk at the Southbank Centre in the evening. It’s going to be an action packed day and I’m looking forward to feeding back to venues and leaving reviews on Euan’s Guide!

I hope you’ll join me on 12th March and visit somewhere new and leave some reviews on Euan’s Guide too!