A nationwide scheme aimed at helping disabled people access venues, activities, shops and services more easily is moving into a new stage of development backed up by findings and recommendations in two national independent reports.
The Access Card scheme is nationally recognised as a fuss-free way to communicate the access needs of disabled people. It’s already been adopted across England and Scotland by venues such as the O2 Arena, Nottingham’s Capital FM Arena, Sheffield Theatres, and festivals such as Download and Glastonbury.
Nimbus Disability started developing The Access Card in 2013 with a period of consultation and involvement with both providers and disabled people: going live with its first providers earlier this year. The Access Card scheme is similar to a reward scheme with the added information about the person’s access needs, shown by symbols on the card. This means businesses can easily see what individuals require at the point of service, streamlining the process for all involved.
The ultimate aim of the card to shift the focus from people having to prove and explain their disability each time they want to buy tickets to events, to a more streamlined process which benefits both cardholder and venue in simple terms of recognising and implementing reasonable adjustments
The card costs £15 for three years and is paid for by the user.
Access Card holder Rob Davy-Cripwell says:
“Before the Access Card it was such a pain trying to get tickets for gigs and sports events and having to have a copy of my Disability Living Allowance award to hand. Now I can book tickets quickly and easily just by giving my card number to venues that are on board with the scheme, which makes it a much less stressful for me, and the venue too.”
A business guide published after the success of the London Paralympic Games highlighted the significant spending power of the disabled community and a potential new market for firms. There are over 11 million disabled people in the UK creating a substantial financial influence – commonly known as the ‘purple pound’.
The scheme is now moving to encourage more businesses to be more proactive in welcoming disabled people by offering loyalty card style discounts.
The National Ice Centre & Capital FM Arena in Nottingham have a standing commitment to disabled people; recognised by both the Attitude is Everything Gold Charter Mark and multiple CredAbility Awards. Already accepting the Access Card they are committed to seeing the benefits for disabled people reaching as far as possible.
Martin Ingham, Deputy Chief Executive said;
“We believe the Access card offers our customers the very best service in ensuring their individual needs can be met when attending events in our venue. Adding value through offers and discounts from local and national businesses only add value to what is already a great scheme. Anything that encourages greater take-up of the Access card is an exciting development towards our long term goal of having it as our primary booking tool for disabled customers.”
One report, the result of a recent independent inquiry that explored the additional costs faced by disabled people, the Extra Costs Commission, supported the idea of such a scheme offering deals as a way to encourage businesses to welcome the disabled community.
Extra Cost Commission chair and fund management industry veteran Robin Hindle Fisher says:
“We are delighted that The Access Card is going from strength to strength.
“The Extra Costs Commission focussed on finding market-based initiatives that could alleviate the impact that extra costs have on the lives of disabled people.
“In our final report we recommended the development of an affiliate scheme like this to attract targeted deals and discounts for disabled people, driving down the cost of products and services.
“There are 12 million disabled consumers in Britain, and their spending power is worth over £200bn, the so-called ‘‘purple pound’’. We have recommended that disabled people should be bolder and louder as consumers and that businesses should focus more on the opportunities to serve this significant market segment.
“The Access Card allows businesses to access the ‘‘purple pound’’ by bringing disabled people together in a collective market, with a clear incentive of winning return business from a large consumer base.
“Businesses can benefit – as well as disabled people – when they recognise the substantial value of the ‘‘purple pound’’.
The ‘X Card Survey’ Report, released by the Disability Action Alliance this week has gathered the views of many disabled people and their representatives about what a card scheme might include and how it might be structured. The findings echo the last 2 years of development Nimbus has invested in the Access Card scheme. The DAA will now be facilitating a network of providers with shared interests in developing a card scheme for disabled people
Martin Austin, founder of Nimbus Disability, said:
“With £212 billion of spending power annually, the disabled community and their collective friends and families are looking for places to spend their money. Businesses that welcome this group and make reasonable provision for them stand to gain a lot.”
All businesses need to do is post their special offers or incentives on the Access Card website. It’s free to do and promotes the offers to all cardholders across the country.
Businesses can also get an enhanced listing by signing up to the linked scheme CredAbility which demonstrates their commitment to being a provider of choice for disabled people.
“Here we have a large, loyal community of people with money in their pockets and influence over their friends and family. They will choose where to spend it wisely – at places they feel welcome and will be catered for. As a business, it’s a great opportunity to expand your customer base.”
Businesses can submit an offer free of charge at https://www.accesscard.org.uk/news/get-involved/
Extra Costs Commission, Interim technical report, March 2015. Over 90 per cent supported this idea. www.extracosts.org
X Card Survey from Disability Action Alliance: http://disabilityactionalliance.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Report-X-Card-Final.pdf
Businesses can find out how to integrate the card into their systems http://www.nimbusdisability.com/quality-mark/the-access-card/