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5th Jul, 2022

Disability campaigner's award-winning work to make Stratford accessible for all

A DISABILITY campaigner in Stratford has been recognised with a mayoral award.

Elizabeth Dixon, who runs Accessible Stratford, was presented with the award, by former mayor Coun Tony Jackson, which highlights her work to make the town more accessible for everyone.

Elizabeth received the award, during the Stratford Town Council Mayoral Event, for continuing to campaign for Stratford businesses and organisations to make their premises as easy as possible for those with disabilities to get around.

She also advises Warwickshire County Council on issues like blue badge parking and installing dropped kerbs and the district and town councils by writing accessibility statements for upcoming events.

Elizabeth said: “I won the award mainly for doing what I’ve done for many years now – advising businesses on how to improve their accessibility, and campaigning in general to make the town more user-friendly and welcome for everyone including people with disabilities.

“It was lovely to receive the award, but in a way, I wish I didn’t have to do this anymore. I actually won a Mayoral award ten years ago for my campaigning, which shows Stratford still has a way to go before it’s truly accessible.

“That said, many businesses and streets in Stratford have improved over the years, and I think the town is much more inclusive than it used to be.

“I will continue to advise anyone for the foreseeable future – there’s always more to be done.”

A former officer with West Midlands Police, Elizabeth was injured on duty in a road traffic accident in 1986 and has since used a wheelchair to get around.

Following this enormous change in her life, Elizabeth realised that Stratford, and many other places around the country, was not taking disabled people into account when it came to access.

She started advising businesses and decision makers in the town as to how they could improve their accessibility and founded the organisation ‘Accessible Stratford’.

Elizabeth has produced several guides for disabled people including information on the most accessible places to visit in the town, blue badge parking and accessible toilets. Everything she does is on a voluntary basis.

She added: “Because of my time as a police officer, I wasn’t afraid to challenge anyone about access for all for inclusion.

“One thing I always say is accessibility is more than just having a ramp. It’s about having the right layout in your shop for everyone to move around and browse easily, having an accessible toilet and making sure an induction loop system for deaf people is provided, and so much more.

“Happily, the vast majority of businesses are willing to listen when I suggest improvements, and most do try and change their ways. Anything not done is usually out of ignorance rather than malice.

“After all, if a business doesn’t adapt, they lose out on trade as people with disabilities will always go to the business that looks out for them.”

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