Blue Badge Style, a guide for a stylish lifestyle incorporating accessibility, has launched a mobile app, which is free to download during the Paralympics.
Aimed at stylish people with mobility issues, initially in London, the Blue Badge Style app identifies venues near your location and uses a tick rating system to grade them on style, accessibility and facilities.
The idea was born of experience. Company founder Fiona Jarvis found herself stuck wondering where to go in London when she realised it was harder to find places that were definitely wheelchair accessible. From that point she set about making an app available so that others would not be stuck on the same question while they were out and about.
The issue of accessibility is not just about people in wheelchairs, disabled people or the differently-abled. Elderly people and those of us who break a limb need to know where they can find things, especially if accessibility is something they have not considered before.
“There are 5 Michelin restaurants in and around London that don’t have a disabled toilet,” notes Jarvis. “Usually this is because they are in Grade II listed buildings and they say cannot change the layout. I contacted English Heritage and they told me there are imaginative ways of putting disabled facilities into listed buildings, but it tends to be a matter of cost. I think that Michelin starred restaurants should be able to afford it.”
Indeed if you go to a chain restaurant or fast-food place, you know they are likely to have a disabled toilet. But for high-end eateries, this is less common. “It’s not about money or even just restaurants,” says Jarvis. “It’s about wanting to go to stylish places. The latest night clubs, festivals or events are not always inclusive and you worry about if you will be able to get in or if you will be embarrassed by stairs.”
Blue Badge Standard
Jarvis hopes that the app will not just help out people who have accessibility in mind, but that it will also help to set a standard. “I hope the Blue Badge Style tick will become as well accepted as the Michelin star in that restaurants and places will want to be accredited.” So if you’re not a Blue Badge tick holder, you’re really no good to people who require better accessibility or even their friends who might all be on a night out.
There is legislation to make places accessible, but businesses can be exempt based on the costs against total revenue. “I hope that the standard makes businesses realise they can’t afford not to have accreditation,” says Jarvis.
To develop the business further, Jarvis is looking for investment. It is hoped that funding will take available maps out of London and to other cities in Europe.
When you don’t have to think about accessibility it’s not an obvious issue, but hopefully with Jarvis’ app, more people can decide on the spur of the moment to go somewhere swanky and only have to worry about the doorman, rather than the stairs.
Image credit: i_yudai