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Leicestershire Centre for Integrated Living

Leicester entrepreneur helps launch app to improve accessibility for the disabled

Date: 20/2/2020
Summary: A new app designed to improve access for disabled people at venues across the UK has been launched by a De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) alumnus and his business partners.

Award-winning entrepreneur Mark Esho, who obtained his Master of Business Administration from DMU in 1994, has helped develop the new app called ‘Access Rating’, which he describes as a cross between Trustpilot and TripAdvisor.

Believed to be the first app of its kind, Access Rating features 240,000 bars, pubs, restaurants and hotels and is designed to help disabled people determine how accessible venues are before they visit, using a review/rating system.

As a wheelchair user himself, Mark hopes Access Rating will help eliminate the access anxiety that disabled people face.

“Whenever I am invited to a bar or restaurant that I’ve not been to before, the first thing I ask is whether it is accessible for me,” he explained. “I know a lot of people who are embarrassed to ask that question and just avoid going altogether.

“We want to make disabled peoples’ lives a lot easier by giving them a voice. We want to save them the time and embarrassment and ultimately, reduce their access anxiety.”

Mark is working with Rich Copson, the founder and director of Access Rating, and Jignesh Vaidya, a professional disability access auditor – both of whom are also wheelchair users.

“We have first-hand experience of what it is like to go to a venue that is not suitable for people in wheelchairs, so we know what a difference this will make,” continued Mark.

Users are asked to score venues out of five for accessibility and there is an option to write a detailed review and submit photos. The app also has a thumbs up/thumbs down feature for users to show whether they agree or disagree with ratings and comments.

“There are 1.2 million wheelchair users in the UK, not to mention elderly people with mobility issues and parents with pushchairs,” said Mark. “Access Rating will hopefully benefit a lot of people and we also hope it will encourage venues to become more access friendly.”

Through Access Rating, Mark, Rich and Jignesh will offer advice, guidance and recommendations for venues to help them improve their facilities.

“Jignesh is an experienced disability access auditor, so we are able to provide expert advice for those businesses that want to improve their accessibility,” said Mark. “Having an audit can cost thousands of pounds and smaller businesses often can’t afford it. By offering this service, we hope to make as many venues across the country more access friendly.

“We want to be in a situation where someone can go in and submit their review in 30 seconds. Our goal is that in the next six to 12 months we will have a ‘top 10 most accessible venues’ for every town and city.”

Since graduating from DMU, Mark has launched a number of successful digital marketing and website development businesses. He also works closely with the Government’s Department of Works and Pensions (DWP), giving talks to employers on the benefits of employing disabled people.

Source: De Montfort University

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