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(3 February 2020) The UK’s largest ferry company has become the first transport operator in the country to adopt the new ‘Any Disability Symbol’ on board. 

West coast operator CalMac is rolling out the new symbols across its 33 vessels and at port locations. 

The development of the new sign has been driven Grace Warnock, a pupil at Preston Lodge High School in Prestonpans. Grace, who has Crohn’s Disease, designed the sign following her own experience of using accessible toilets, including receiving negative remarks from adults who did not appreciate or understand her condition.

The sign has now been evolved by design agency StudioLR with the aim of having it recognised by the British Standards Institution as the generally accepted sign for accessible facilities. 

Hilary Stubbs is a disabled resident on Arran, she said:

‘Too often the impact of accessibility challenges faced by those living with ‘invisible’ disabilities has been overlooked or ignored.

‘Many people have often serious conditions that are not apparent just by looking at them who need to be able to use accessible facilities without fear of challenge. Having CalMac adopt these signs is a great starting point and I hope it really encourages other organisation to roll these signs out as well.’

Last year CalMac carried more than 5.6 million passengers and with 16% of UK residents registered as disabled that is likely to be more than half a million disabled passengers welcomed on board. 

‘The wheelchair symbol is commonly used on accessible toilet signs and Blue Badge parking permits, however this symbol doesn’t represent the people with wide-ranging impairments who use these facilities and services,’ said CalMac’s Transport Planning Manager, Demi Wylie. 

‘People with a hidden disability have the right to access facilities and services without having to explain their personal circumstances. It’s about building awareness of this and we hope that many more organisations will join us and adopt the new signs.’