Specialists in their field

How easy is it to access London with disabilities?

Kerstin Scheel, partner in our clinical negligence department, alongside Maggie Sargent, Case Management and Care expert, relate their experience in working with their disabled clients and how they can best access the amenities London has to offer.

London is of course a vibrant and exciting capital city to live in or visit, but of course was not designed to meet the needs of service users who have disabilities, whether that be using a wheelchair or for those with sensory impairments. It is hoped that further investment and better consideration of the differing needs of those with disabilities will bring improved access to London; in the meantime, we detail some information we have gathered to assist our clients – and anyone with a disability – when they are visiting London.

You can also listen to our recent podcast with disability blogger Tash Hook, here:

Public transport

If you live in London you should be entitled to apply for a “Freedom Pass”, provided by Transport for London, which entitles you to free transport within the city. Full details can be found here

Unfortunately, many tube stations are inaccessible for wheelchair users and therefore it is very important to plan your trip in advance and check whether there are stair free stations or those who offer lifts. There is a lot of information on planning tube trips here.

When travelling on trains, our clients have generally reported that staff are extremely helpful in assisting with boarding and disembarking from trains; ensuring that platform staff are available with ramps to assist you and with your luggage. The primary factor though, as with most things relating to public transport and disability, is to plan ahead. It is also sensible to book your required assistance in advance.

To help with planning, a fantastic new app has been developed in conjunction with National Rail. This allows you to pre-book travel and assistance with much greater ease.

Driving in London

If you choose to take your own car, it is important to remember that the Blue Badge permit is only valid when the holder is driving the vehicle or travelling as a passenger. The permit and parking clock must always be displayed in the front windscreen when parked to avoid a penalty fine.

 It is important to be aware though that City of London regulations do differ; the Blue Badge scheme does not fully apply and the City of London Corporation runs their own Red Badge Parking concession scheme. Full details of the City of London disabled badge regulations can be found here.

Three other London boroughs (Camden, City of Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea) also operate separate disabled parking schemes and full details can be found here.


What would London be without the black cab?

All London black cabs should be fully wheelchair accessible, and drivers are expected to assist those who require help.

Unfortunately though, use of the London black cab is not always straightforward. Some useful comments from Euan’s Guide can be found here.

Where to stay

You will of course have read the story in his magazine edition about AbleStay, the new fully adapted property to rent in London. This should give you plenty of insight into what the accommodation is about, but if you want to go direct to their website you can find it here.

As AbleStay is, at the time of writing, still yet to open you can find out more about other disability-friendly accommodation here.

Again, good communication in advance with the accommodation you choose is very important to ensure a smooth visit. We advise that you call the hotel to ensure the room reserved meets your requested specifications and that someone will be available to assist you to your room.

Shopping and accessible toilets

London is of course a fantastic place to shop. Many shops in the city have made great strides to make their spaces more disability friendly, but when out and about it is a good idea to know where the nearest Changing Places toilets are.

Changing Places Toilets are larger than the normal disabled toilet and include a changing bench, hoist, and privacy screen.

What to go and see

There are, fortunately, many more accessible attractions in London than we’d be able to list here. So, if you want to find out more about things to go and see, the best websites we recommend you take a look at are:

Top 10 accessible London attractions - SuperCarers

10 accessible London attractions (disabilityhorizons.com)

The brilliant comedian Rosie Jones, who has cerebral palsy, has also done a blog post on VisitEngland’s website which is full of great information here.

Once you’ve found the attraction that you want to visit, it’s good to know that discounts for those who are disabled – and their carers – are likely to be available at many of them. It is well worth checking on offers available on booking, and once again pre-booking is strongly recommended.

Further information on visiting London with a disabled child can be found on the RWK Goodman “Little Champions Guide to London” here.