1 Avenue Imperial stills from the pilot photography in 3DPeople with disabilities can now view the stylish facilities at a hotel, bar or restaurant in virtual reality via a Blue Badge Style Gallery. Blue Badge Style is the only company re-defining disability with style. The company’s Virtual Gallery will improve online information for people with disabilities, their friends & families. It will also increase occupancy rates and give venues a competitive edge in the growing hospitality market of affluent, less physically able individuals, estimated by the Department of Work & Pensions at £212bn a year in the UK.

Blue Badge Style has created a prototype Virtual Gallery with Avenue Imperial. Blue Badge Style info has been added to the entrance and reception of Avenue Imperial’s virtual images of The Auersperg Palace in Vienna.

Founder of Blue Badge Style, Fiona Jarvis, explains:

“Venues can attract new customers by adding a Blue Badge Style Gallery to their websites. People with disabilities want to anticipate any issues before they arrive, but then they often become loyal customers. It’s about offering people an informed choice so they can get on with having a good time!”.

Blue Badge Style Gallery takes a customer with disabilities on a stylish, photographic journey through a venue, whether on a VR headset, via the Blue Badge Style app or on the venue’s website. It highlights areas that online galleries often miss, such as:

v  Type of flooring – wood and stone are great for a wheelchair, but might pose a problem for a walking stick user. Occasional carpets also need to be pointed out.

v  Odd steps – An inch step might be managed with help, six inches is hard work!

v  Table legs – good leg positioning helps wheelchair users get close to the table.

v  Hard surfaces – can maximise background noise, which can be a challenge for those with hearing difficulties.

v  Ramps – it’s always good to know how steep the ramp is before you arrive.

v  Rails – one each side of the loo is vital, and at the right height.

Fiona Jarvis, explains:

“It’s hard for people without a disability to spot these things. So the process of creating a Virtual Gallery also informs staff about potential issues and adds a valuable resource for enquiries. It’s an opportunity to tap into a new market with the minimum of fuss for the venue and the guest”.

Blue Badge Style Virtual Gallery is created by a person with disabilities and the virtual reality option gives them the best view possible of a venue and its facilities. More than just a basic ‘wheelchair access’ notice, Blue Badge Style Gallery is a neat button on the venues’ website, which clicks through to stylish images with discreet pins and notes on various access points.  There’s no dull written statement, or grainy images of bathroom rails.

12 million people, or one in five, in the UK have a disability. Research by the Department of Work & Pensions reveals that households which include a person with disabilities have a combined income of £212bn after housing costs. The British Hospitality Association reveals how venues could tap into this, as the average length of a hotel stay by someone with a disability is four nights. According to The Extra Costs Commission report in June last year, Six in ten businesses surveyed said that they would benefit from better information about disabled people’s consumer habits and preferences. Perhaps because the same research shows that three quarters (75%) of disabled people and their families have left a shop or business because of poor customer service and a lack of disability awareness.