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Jan Brookes, Isle Access

Inclusive Design

Inclusive design is the way forward – CEO Isle Access, Jan Brookes

“We believe in inclusive design – if you design with access for everyone in mind it benefits all in our society. For example, making things easier for people in wheelchairs, benefits a whole host of other people like parents with pushchairs.

“I say we are disabled by the environment or attitudes rather than people being disabled. We are working on a project delivering adapted cycling with a range of adapted bikes that people can ride.

“As a result the Island now has its first para-triathlete and we’ve had people in wheelchairs with complex learning disabilities being able to enjoy the experience of cycling with their carers and develop new skills.

“If you design something and include access at the beginning, it is much cheaper. I was reading an article in Retail Today and they were highlighting the fact that by making their shops accessible, businesses can improve their financial position.

“I went to university for the first time aged 58 and I did a Masters degree in international hospitality management. In a previous life I was a nurse and my dissertation brought together what I had learned on my degree course with my career in nursing. I looked at Identifying the needs of people with dementia when using hotels.

“I looked at how hotels can better accommodate people living with dementia and I looked at accessibility on the Island. When I finished university in 2016, I set up with two friends Isle Access as a community interest company and in 2018 it became a charity.

“As an organisation we have a good understanding of what can be done to make buildings more accessible and we would welcome the opportunity to be involved in the plans for the Heritage Action Zone.

“‘Nothing about us without us’ sums it up – you can’t assume what is needed without speaking to the people you are hoping to help.

“There is often a misconception that you can’t work with historic buildings but you can. I’ve known a cathedral that was made accessible in a very sympathetic way.

“I think Ryde should introduce a novelty accessible vehicle. In Buxton they have a converted an electric milk float into what looks like a mini Victorian bus. It takes people up and around Buxton – I can just see a Dotto style train going up Union Street and taking people through the whole of the High Street.

“It could operate on a loop and people could get on and off wherever they like.

“I would also like to see a changing places toilet in Ryde that a disabled child or adult can use. Having a toilet like this available can make such a difference to people’s lives and can stop them being isolated.

“It can make the difference between someone leaving the home confidently or not.”