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When “adapted” does not mean “accessible”

Posted: March 26th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Care, Health, Inclusive design | No Comments »

iStock_000002473301XSmall[1]Did you read this week’s “Spinal Column” in The Times magazine? Melanie Reid broke her neck and back falling from a horse in April 2010. In her weekly column she records her long, painful and often frustrating rehabilitation. This week she checked into a hotel and ran into difficulties when the “accessible” hotel accommodation proved to be anything but.

This morning Melanie’s article prompted the following Twitter conversation between us (@thfutureperfect) and Tourism for All (@tourismforalluk)  which I think sums up quite neatly the problems in this area.

Until I read this article I would have assumed like Melanie that: “ When you go to stay in a Hilton hotel, booked into a special room for disabled people, you kind of assume it will your meet your needs”.

@ThFuturePerfect Did u see Melanie Reid’s column abt accessibility at Hilton in Times mag? What did u think?

@tourismforalluk Afraid I didn’t Philippa – can I access it online?

@ThFuturePerfect Possibly. She says that “accessible” hotel rooms doesnt mean they r accessible for wheelchairs – is that right?

@tourismforalluk Sounds ambiguous…  

@ThFuturePerfect do hotels have to meet strict criteria before rooms are deemed accessible or is it up to them? 

@tourismforalluk It depends if they have a rating, like NAS, or not: http://t.co/zNMqj09u. We always advise asking for info before booking.

@ThFuturePerfect Interesting. How widely adopted is the NAS scheme?

@tourismforalluk I wonder if @VisitEngland can tell us?

@tourismforalluk Altho, this very problem is why we came up with OpenBritain: http://www.openbritain.net/openbritain/accommodation/. All properties have to meet criteria.

@ThFuturePerfect Just checked on OB and hotel did not claim to have adapted facilities – is that surprising for an upmarket hotel? 

@tourismforalluk Can you let me know which hotel so I can take a look please?

@ThFuturePerfect In article it says Northampton Hilton

@tourismforallukThe DisabledGo listing on OB says that there is adapted rooms available… 

@ThFuturePerfectGuess that means that “adapted” does not always mean “accessible to you” – must be very frustrating!

@tourismforalluk Indeed, which is why we provide detailed info on the listings with measurements & details of facilities.

I did have one small gripe with Melanie Reid’s article and that was her declaration (hopefully tongue in cheek) that her hotel room had been “designed for someone with disabilities. For the one-legged, maybe..or the very elderly..or the fat ”. I am not sure these sorts of labels are useful in this context when what we should be aiming for is design for all.

And until we have reached the point where every hotel room is inclusively designed, good information about what is available is essential. For some useful links, go to

Tourism for All

Open Britain

National Accessibility Scheme, Visit Britain

Philippa Aldrich becomes RSA fellow

Posted: March 22nd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Inclusive design, Press coverage | No Comments »

RSAI am absolutely delighted to be nominated to become a fellow of the RSA.

The RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) is an organisation committed to finding innovative practical solutions to today’s social challenges. Through its ideas, research and 27,000-strong Fellowship it seeks to understand and enhance human capability so we can close the gap between today’s reality and people’s hopes for a better world.
Nowhere is there a bigger gap today between our hopes for our later life and the awful reality for many of our older people and I am looking forward to working with the RSA to help us design a better future for all of us.
Philippa Aldrich
The Future Perfect Company

Age UK Agenda for Later Life – live longer healthier

Posted: March 11th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Care, Health, Inclusive design | No Comments »

Agenda for later lifeOn Thursday, I was delighted to be asked to speak at the Age UK national policy conference, Agenda for Later Life 2012.

This annual policy conference looks at how public policy is meeting the challenges of later life and the accompanying  report (see below) is a useful stocktake of where things stand now, as well as a recognition that the issues involved require not just action from Government but also third sector bodies, businesses and older people themselves.  Age UK are focussed on a a vision of “active ageing” which allows people to participate in society and realise their potential for physical, social and mental wellbeing while providing adequate care and security.

I was part of the panel talking about inclusive design, together with Professor Jeremy Myerson from the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design  and Tony Noakes, the Operations Director for the BBC’s Switchover Help Scheme  – which has evidently been doing a fantastic job in making sure older and disabled people are ready for the digital switchover.

Professor Jeremy Myerson (who featured in last’s week’s The Culture Show) opened proceedings with the 10 myths about inclusive design including that it is boring and expensive to implement. I talked about my experiences of setting up The Future Perfect Company and running the Designing for the Future competition with the University of Brighton.

I am pleased to report that we had a capacity audience and there seemed to be a good deal of interest in inclusive design and design for older people. It was also a good opportunity to share information about what was happening in this field.

Two new initiatives are in the off-ing. Age UK are about to launch their Trusted by Engage accreditation scheme designed to raise awareness of Engage, its business network which, it is fair to say, has had a quiet couple of years but has now apparently been reinvigorated. Also last week saw the UK launch of the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations.

Mary Sinfield from the New Dynamics of Ageing  told me about a fashion research project which is looking at how our bodies change as we get older – something I am definitely going to follow up.

The stand out presentation of this year’s Conference for me was given by Professor Alan Walker, Professor of Social Policy and Social Gerentology at the University of Sheffield who had an unusually upbeat approach to our ageing demographic.  He made the observation that the people who we are predicting will be inhabiting costly care homes in 2030/40 are alive now and if they were to take action to reduce environmental risk factors, for example by eating well and taking exercise, they would be more likely to be able to maintain their independence longer and less likely to need substantial care. Ageing, he said should be looked at from a life course perspective and we should all aim to “live longer healthier and die faster”. Food for thought.

You can download HERE Age UK’s Agenda for Later Life 2012 policy report