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Access & Parking for disabled people in Reading

PDSN Event Report 18 February 2015

The Physical Disabilities and Sensory Needs Network (PDSN) event held at the Civic Centre on 18th February 2015 was themed around access, facilities and parking in the town centre for people with disabilities.

Presentations included staff from the Oracle's ShopMobility, who outlined the service they offer.  Besides loaning out scooters, wheelchairs and powerchairs for people to use within the Oracle and Reading town centre, they also offer drinking water facilities for assistance dogs and assisting disabled shoppers with their shopping or with getting around the centre. 

The ShopMobility office also has two accessible toilets and an accessible photobooth.  ShopMobility and Oracle staff will do whatever they can to make disabled visitors to the Oracle feel welcomed and make their visit a positive and enjoyable experience.  ShopMobility recognised that they needed to improve access and information to Deaf people. Further details can be found at Tel: 0118 965 9008  e-mail:

Reading Borough Council's Access Officer, Helen Bryant gave a presentation about the nationwide web-based directory  The directory provides information on accessibility to shops, services and transport.  Helen suggested this was a really practical and simple way for service users to share their experiences and to feedback on service and accessibility in shops, restaurants, cinemas within the Borough so that others can make use of this information.  Registering with the service enables individuals to up-date information and provide feedback. 

We also had a presentation outlining Blue Badge parking provision around the town centre.  There was a lot of discussion and debate about access to the town centre, as some of the parking bays closest to Broad Street have access restrictions, so are unavailable at certain times of the day.  This results in Broad Street being largely inaccessible to anyone with a Blue Badge who has mobility difficulties and isn't a wheelchair user.

The session concluded with participants discussing in smaller groups the following questions about access and parking for disabled people in Reading:

  • What do you think works in Reading?
  • What do you think doesn’t work?
  • If you don’t come into the town centre, what prevents you from coming in?
  • What changes would make access and parking better for you?

The main problem area seemed to be obtaining information quickly and easily about the many excellent disabled facilities in Reading, finding facilities easily (signage) and the cost of parking in the Oracle where many Blue Badge spaces are provided.  Positive feedback included the Reading transport bus service, Shopmobility at the Oracle, and the Readibus service.

The event was well attended by service users, carers and service providers who all had the opportunity to share their experiences, ideas and opinions and fed back that they found the afternoon interesting and informative. 

 Please see links to the feedback from the group discussions and for the event.