Stephen Liney, founder of All Possibilities Access (APA) Disability Consultancy, is a wheelchair user and is passionate about creating change for the disabled communities in the UK. In this exclusive article below, Stephen shares his insights about how many shops are not complying with the law regarding accessibility as well as how society can do more generally to changes attitudes about disability.

By Stephen Liney

During this year I’ve been campaigning to create better accessibility within my town. I met with councillors to give them a different perspective of how it is to be a wheelchair user. I also visited local shops where I discovered that a few shop owners had not been aware of the duties which are described in the Equality Act. After I had explained the reasons why improving access into their shops would be a benefit, I explained that in most cases a portable ramp is efficient.

Some businesses were happy to improve their access, while others have not wanted to, and have no intention. I’ve had a popular vaping shop tell me they are accessible despite there actually being a step. This causes me to wonder why accessibility is such a difficult thing to achieve.

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Most recently, a new business opened which was inaccessible. Someone made a comment on a Facebook post asking if they could have made their shop wheelchair accessible. This created many opinions. Some stated that “it would cost too much to have permanent fixtures made” in order to create access. The idea of portable ramps wasn’t noted.

Another person suggested allowing the business time to establish before expecting them to make wheelchair access. This was said despite the existence of the Equality Acts reasonable adjustment duties, so it seems within our society, accessibility is left behind or just forgotten.

Stephen Linney
Stephen Linney, founder of APA Disability Consultancy

Even with the duties of legislations in place it does seem that many businesses will not comply with law regarding accessibility. The fact that being accessible creates a wider customer base, and allows for businesses to tap into the “purple pound”, is not something considered. Many non-disabled people will justify inaccessibility and are quick to give excuses, rather than actually try to solve the issue.

Disability will eventually effect each of us, whether it be from living to old age, or even in an unexpected circumstance. Accessibility creates a inclusive society. It’s not about being a “snowflake” for speaking out on inaccessibility issues, or being offended. It’s all about creating an inclusive, equal world.

When it comes to society the other experiences I encounter (sometimes on a daily occurrence) is a stranger who sees me in my wheelchair and they assume that I “need help”, so out of nowhere I have had my wheelchair pushed without permission.

On speaking out, it happens that I’m rude for not accepting their help. There isn’t much chance to explain why, but if, on the other hand, I had been asked then I can politely accept it decline the offer.

On other occasions I might get the “what happened to you” question. It’s very invasive to ask, yet I’m expected to openly answer. The funny thing about this is that it would never be a question asked by non-disabled person to non-disabled person as a conversation starter, but it’s assumed that it’s okay to ask anyone who may have a impairment.

After this lived experience, I decided to start a disability consultancy business. I felt since disability was such a uncomfortable subject that more had to be done, to attempt to re-educate society about disability. So much in society has been wrongly taught. The phrase “able bodied” is so widely used to describe someone without impairment, yet it’s so wrong with what the term assumes.

Another term often used is “wheelchair bound”. This has the assumption of people like myself having a wheelchair physically attached to them. Along with the way businesses and companies seem so behind on how to be and why to be accessible, in some cases disability awareness training is provided by non-disabled people, but it’s the disabled people who know more simply because of living the experience.

I hadn’t considered this concept even as a wheelchair user, but when I became aware of being knowledgeable, it made complete sense to work on a social enterprise, something which would give value to businesses, helping to improve accessibility, or the way disability is viewed, feared and simply not openly discussed. This is all to be changed. Through my APA Disability Consultancy business I will work on through 2023 with some exciting projects on the horizon.

In July 2023, after giving my local town council the idea of having a Disability Pride event, to my surprise they accepted, so now I’ll be organising this event with the idea to celebrate disability and to raise awareness. It’s about being proud to have a disability and I hope it will be successful.

There are a number of towns in the UK that are already doing Disability Pride events, after the concept was created in America in 1990. It’s starting to grow worldwide as a celebration. We need society to see disability as normal. For such a long time it’s not been understood, perhaps because it’s considered a bad thing to be, as it prohibits a person from living fully, but obviously this is just a misconception. The main barrier of disability is society’s barriers, the shops who fail to provide the necessary access and the attitudes of people.

What I would like to see is more disabled people on TV, on shows which are dominated by non-disabled people, Channel 4 did have the “undateables” but that was so misinforming. The media need more disabled representation as that’s a mainstream, faster way to achieve the changes required to create the inclusion that disabled people have a right to. It’s unfortunate to say that although much has improved since the 1950s, it seems the mindset of society is outdated.

Things are changing and I hope to be a big part of the social change that will happen for disabled communities across the UK.

All Possibilities Access Disability Consultancy is a disability consultancy that provides one to one or group disability awareness training sessions, access audits and one-to-one confidence building. For all enquiries, e-mail

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