Finding accessible places to go, even if it's just for a coffee, can be time consuming and frustrating.
Euan's Guide is the brain child of brother and sister Euan and Kiki MacDonald, and was founded in 2013 after Euan became a powerchair user.
Their goal was to remove the 'fear of the unknown' and create a digital directory that could help open up towns and cities to disabled people everywhere, by encouraging disabled people, their friends and families to share their own experiences.
We were lucky enough to speak to Euan and Kiki about Euan's Guide and get their thoughts on disabled access in the UK.
Q. Your frustration around the difficulties of finding disabled access information, is one shared by many. But what motivated you both to do something about it? And were there any early challenges you had to overcome in the early days of Euan’s Guide?
The motivation to create Euan’s Guide was exactly that – we had varying success trying to find places to go that had good disabled access. The information just wasn’t there; or at least it wasn’t there in a way that was helpful. A badge simply stating that somewhere has disabled access is not enough, and we wanted to hear about real-life experiences of other disabled people who, like us, had found accessible places to go through trial and error. We hoped that by combining all of our knowledge and recommendations, we could build a directory of great accessible places to go with family and friends – and thanks to our reviewers, we have!
The challenges we faced early on were the same as any new start-up – we had to spread the word about Euan’s Guide. Social media played a big role in this, and this is reflected in the distribution of people who review on Euan’s Guide. Disabled people, their families and friends send us reviews from all over the UK and beyond! Another exciting challenge we have faced has been to make the Euan’s Guide website as accessible as possible. The site undergoes continual improvements, and many of our accessibility enhancements come directly from our users who use assistive technology to access Euan’s Guide.
Q. Which areas do you feel we still have a long way to go in terms of disabled access? Transport? Footpaths? Leisure facilities?
We have disabled access reviews for all kinds of places on Euan’s Guide, and we’re pleased to see that many of these reviews are positive. Judging by this, it’s not possible to say that there is any one area that needs to do more, because there are fantastic examples of good disabled access everywhere. Our Access Survey in 2015 found that the types of places that reviewers had the best experiences in were cinemas and theatres, museums and galleries, hospitals and public buildings. Every experience is unique however, and this is reflected in the diversity of reviews we receive.
Q. What can we all do as individuals to put pressure on our local businesses, venues and MPs to ensure all venues in the UK are accessible and can be used and enjoyed by everyone?
Good reviews on Euan’s Guide make great endorsements for businesses, so the more we can spread the word about places that are doing access well, the more other will follow suit to attract the customers who are going elsewhere. We have found that lots of venues and businesses are unsure about where to start with accessibility so we like to offer suggestions and tips for making access easier. In fact, we have seen several venues take action after reading reviews left by visitors on Euan’s Guide. This has included removing oversized bins from accessible loos, untying red cord cards, and having water bowls readily available for assistance dogs to name a few examples. Disabled Access Day is another fantastic initiative that gets everybody talking about accessibility.
Q. The 2016 Paralympics are coming up in September. After the success and awareness that came after London 2012, do you see this as another opportunity to open people’s eyes to the issues facing disabled people?
Absolutely! The recent Channel 4 trailer for the 2016 Paralympics is already an example of how awareness can be raised – so many people were sharing this video on social media, and they loved it! Like every big event, the Paralympics will be an opportunity to learn from. We would hope that access has been well considered and thought out, but there will always be room for improvement and it is the learning from this that will go on to make access everywhere easier in the long term.
Q. What does the future have in store for Euan’s Guide? Where would you like it to be in 5 years’ time?
We would like to have even more reviewers using the site! The more people who submit disabled access reviews, the better. The number of reviews coming from outside of the UK is also growing, and this is very exciting.
To find out more about Euan's Guide and to download the app visit https://www.euansguide.com/