High hopes for new card access scheme


A user-led disability consultancy has launched the first national card designed to ensure that disabled people can let service-providers know their specific access needs with the minimum of fuss.

Nimbus hopes that its Access Card – launched this month, and costing £15 for three years – will mean disabled people no longer have to describe why they need adjustments every time they access a service.

Under the scheme – which has already secured the backing of some of the top entertainment venues in the UK – the cardholder’s access needs are assessed by Nimbus and entered into a secure database.

These needs, such as level access, accessible toilets, difficulty accessing visual information, and difficulty with standing and queueing, are represented on a card by different symbols.

The symbols inform a service-provider “quickly and discreetly” about the support the disabled person needs, and can help secure concessionary prices and complex reasonable adjustments.

Each service that signs up to the scheme can also access information through the database, allowing them to anticipate how best to meet their customer’s access needs.

So far, Nimbus has signed up all of the O2 Academy venues across the UK, theatres, museums and visitor attractions, live music venues, two major music festivals – including Glastonbury Festival – two football clubs, and two independent cinemas.

It has also begun discussions with the emergency services about recognising and responding to the symbols on the card.

And Nimbus is in discussions with several other Premier League and Championship football clubs, and is hoping that the card will be introduced eventually across the professional leagues, and has had “promising” discussions with the Football Association and the Sports Ground Safety Authority.

Charlotte Throssel, who has one of the cards, said that booking tickets to see her favourite bands has now become much easier.

She said: “I can book things a lot more quickly and don’t have to repeat myself with every provider. It’s absolutely fabulous.”

Martin Austin, managing director of Nimbus, said: “We do the assessment ourselves and make a decision based on a person’s actual needs rather than their medical diagnosis.

“The card communicates those needs to a provider, so the provider can concentrate on what they need to do to support a disabled customer.”

He said it was “very early on” in the card’s development, but the initial response from disabled people and providers had been “excellent”.

Disabled actor Warwick Davis said the card had “real potential”, and added: “Access isn’t simply about wheelchair bays, and the card can help people communicate this without going into intrusive levels of detail.”

The card has also been backed by Attitude is Everything (AiE), which works to persuade the music industry to implement best practice in disabled people’s access to live music.

Suzanne Bull, AiE’s chief executive, said: “The Access Card is a universal proof of disability card that is being accepted by a number of venues and festivals, and we fully endorse the card scheme as an accessible method of proving eligibility.

“It’s a stepping stone to enabling disabled music fans to purchase tickets online.”

Jonathan Brown, chief executive of The Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers, said: “Schemes such as the Access Card reduce the need for customers to provide proof each time they book tickets.

“This pre-registration system makes the process much simpler when booking again or when booking for other venues or events that accept the card.”

29 January 2015

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