Mark Harper, Minister of State for Disabled People will launch The Accessible Britain Challenge on Thursday 4 September.
We know that many disabled people face barriers in their every day lives that prevent them from being full and active members of their community. We also know that significant progress has been made in some communities to make them inclusive and accessible. But, there is evidence to show that progress is patchy and that is why this challenge is for all communities to do more.
Vision of the Challenge
The vision of the Accessible Britain Challenge is for communities to become more inclusive and accessible by engaging and working with disabled people to remove barriers that get in the way of them being full and active contributors in their community.
What is an inclusive and accessible community?
We consider an inclusive and accessible community as one that:
- engages with disabled people and includes them equally
- recognises the positive contribution, in terms of employment and vibrant local economies, that 12.2 million disabled people across the UK can provide
- recognises physical, hidden and mental heath conditions and has the means in place to be fully accessible to all conditions
- encourages collaboration and co-production between disabled people and local organisations including local businesses, employers and service providers.
The aims of the Accessible Britain Challenge are to:
- motivate local communities to do more to be inclusive and accessible for disabled people
- contribute towards building and maintaining strong and sustainable economic growth by harnessing the potential of disabled people, supporting them to be active members of their communities
- increase awareness and understanding of
- how a community can be inclusive and accessible for disabled people
- the potential benefits for local businesses and organisations of engaging with disabled people either as employers or customers
- the barriers disabled people face in their every day lives that prevent them from being able full and active participants in their community
- bring about a change in attitudes and behaviours towards disabled people by local businesses, employers, service providers and voluntary and community organisations.
- encourage collaboration and co-production between disabled people and local organisations including local businesses, employers and service providers.
Who is the Challenge aimed at?
Government has a key role to play in helping to make communities inclusive and accessible. But, communities are built by individuals, groups and organisations working together at a local level. In this respect engaging with disabled people and working with them to design solutions is key to making a difference to their everyday lives. The Challenge is therefore aimed at all parts of communities, organisations and individuals alike.
Practical support for the Challenge
There is a growing recognition of the very positive contribution that nearly 12.2 million disabled people provide in terms of employment and vibrant local economies.
We want to build on this by harnessing, showcasing and sharing the initiatives and good practices that already exist.
Accessible Britain Challenge online resource tool
To support the Challenge and exemplify and showcase good practice, the Office for Disability Issues (ODI) has created and will promote an online resource bringing together guidance, case studies, toolkits and good practice on inclusive and accessible communities. This has been published on GOV.UK at www.gov.uk/accessiblebritain to coincide with the launch of the Challenge.
We believe that it is important to publicly recognise those organisations in communities that are making a difference in the form of awards. The Office for Disability Issues is developing arrangements for these, which are likely to be under the broad categories of:
- Improved mobility
- Innovative use of buildings, places and spaces
- Safer neighbourhoods, and
- Inclusive social activities.
Details of the awards process and to make how nominations will be circulated in the Autumn.
We hope that by raising the profile of the positive contribution that disabled people make to communities we will all make a positive contribution to changing attitudes and behaviours towards disabled people.
In the meantime if you have any questions please contact, Brian Keating or Peter Anderson at the Office for Disability Issues, using the following email address firstname.lastname@example.org .
 Family Resources Survey, 2012/13