The mother of a child with cerebral palsy has launched a disability travel review website after her son could not watch a film about Stephen Hawking at a Harrogate cinema because of a lack of wheelchair access.
Kelly Jones’ 12-year-old son Joseph France was told he could not watch The Theory of Everything as the Harrogate Odeon was not showing it in any wheelchair accessible screens.
The incident compelled Ms Jones to set up ‘Disability Trip Advisor’, a website that allows her and other users to review different attractions and venues for their disabled access.
Ms Jones said the website serves to help families with disabled children plan their activities and days out in advance to avoid any last-minute ‘disappointment’.
She said: “For me, as a parent, you don’t realise how difficult it is to plan a day out and do a simple thing like going to the cinema when you have a disabled child. It can be the hardest thing in the world.
“I wanted to create something which is easy for parents and families to access for days out, which has all the information on accessibility right there in front of you.
“Even though the information is usually on the company’s website, it can be tough trying to find it all. There’s nothing more disappointing than planning a day out, getting there and not being able to do it.
“We take it for granted how easy it is going to these venues but quite often you can’t do the most simple things when you are in a wheelchair. You don’t realise how many pitfalls are out there.”
So far, the website reviews days out in Harrogate, York and Leeds, as well as clubs in those areas, but Ms Jones is hoping that it can expand to other areas in Yorkshire and then on a national level.
Joe will also be leaving his own reviews, as a wheelchair user, of the accessibility of the attractions he’s visited on his video blog.
Ms Jones is now appealing for other parents and families to get in touch with the website and leave their own reviews from previous experiences, but stressed the aim is not to ‘name and shame’ the companies.
She said: “We really need families to contribute because, as much as Joe would like it, I can’t go to all the attractions across the country.
“Some companies just put a ramp in front of their door and say they have disabled access but that’s not always the case. We want to help them improve but it’s not to be seen in a negative way.
“Children deserve happy memories and if I can help families achieve that then I have done all I can.”