The British Polio Fellowship has warned how attitudes towards accessibility issues – especially within the fashion industry – must change. It comes following reports that a disabled model, who was set to be part of a panel in a seminar at one of the UK’s leading fashion shows, left humiliated after the show neglected to provide appropriate wheelchair access to the stage.
Disabled model Chelsey Jay says the fact she was there to talk about disability inclusion in fashion, at a fashion event that ultimately excluded her, was “laughable”. National charity The British Polio Fellowship warns that unacceptable situations such as this highlight a wider problem which urgently needs addressing.
“Seeing this story was both frustrating and upsetting,” said Ted Hill, CEO of The British Polio Fellowship. “The irony of the whole thing leaves a bitter taste for everyone related to fighting for accessibility rights, but especially for Chelsey herself. We’re nearly in 2016 – no one should have to be putting up with these sorts of issues, especially when they’re there to talk about disability inclusion.”
The British Polio Fellowship helps and supports those living with the late effects of Polio and Post Polio Syndrome (PPS). For those with the condition, individuals can develop increasing weakness, fatigue and pain in previously affected or unaffected muscles, a general reduction in stamina, breathing, sleeping and/or swallowing problems as well as cold intolerance.
The charity campaigns for accessibility rights for disabled people across the country. Recently, Ted wrote a response to the controversial photoshoot featuring ‘able-bodied’ celebrity Kylie Jenner in a wheelchair, pointing out the fashion industry’s general poor track record when it comes to accessibility and inclusion. Another example in such a short amount of time certainly proves worrying for an industry which claims to be trying to change its ways.
“Two recent events of this kind show how much things still need to change, not just in the fashion industry, but in all areas of society,” said Ted. “These sorts of choices or mistakes can lead to people feeling demeaned in the worst possible way, and it is just not acceptable from a society which professes to be accessible. It’s time accessibility is seen as a necessity, not an option,” he concluded.