Tedx: The Purple Pound

I was recently incredibly privileged to be asked to be involved in my local Tedx Event.

I do a lot of public speaking but this one got me spooked! I had to condense 15 years of experience and a typical days worth of training into a single 10 minute session. Thats a lot of conceptual thought, , design, trial and implementation to fit in!

The video is coming soon but here is an article from the associated Programme Guide


Accessing the Purple Pound

Disability consultant Martin Austin highlights the spending power of disabled people and how the Access Card is helping.


Your talk highlights the spending power of disabled people. Is this something which you feel is often overlooked by businesses?

“Overlooked or just not known about. I don’t think it’s ever deliberately overlooked, I think disabled people are not necessarily seen as having a lot of money.

“The narrative in the press is always about how disabled people are the hardest hit in society and are benefit recipients and don’t do a great deal. Whereas I think that’s a fallacy.

“There’s lots of disabled people who live very full, active lives. And even people who are on benefits or in the social care system have access to money and, more importantly, have a lot of influence over how their friends and family spend their money.”


You’ve pioneered the Access Card programme which gives disabled people an easy way to demonstrate their needs to providers.

When did you realise there was a need for service like this?

“I suppose even twenty odd years ago there was a need for something. Attempts were never particularly well structured and they didn’t really do anything other than prove a person was disabled.

There wasn’t a real means for using something like an Access Card. A few years ago though we realised that in accessing things like festivals and concerts disabled people had to send in proof of disability.

But proof of disability wasn’t what the providers needed.

They didn’t need to know if somebody was disabled when they were coming to a concert, they needed to know what their needs were so they could meet them.

It wasn’t anything to do with ‘I have to prove I’m a disabled person’ it’s ‘I have to communicate what a provider needs to do to be able to meet my needs so that I have a good time.’ So we took the concept of proving you’re disabled and used that to actually communicate what a person’s needs were instead.


So there was no existing official mechanism for doing this then?

“There have been a few attempts but they weren’t focussed on communicating needs, proving what benefit you got or proving that you got a free ticket place.


So only answering half the question?

“Yes and not the important half of the question, it was just the first part.

“Disabled people’s needs are hugely broad ranging. People are very diverse anyway, so there’s got to be some element of saying “What can we do for you?” and how do we open the door to that conversation without “OK, send us in a copy of your benefits letter.”


Is there a danger that competing services might enter the market and cause confusion? Has this happened already?

“There are other ones out there but again still focussing entirely on proving you’re disabled. What makes us unique is that, 1: we are disabled people delivering this and 2: the focus is entirely on communicating an individual’s need in relation to the Legislation. What’s your vision for the future in terms of accessibility provision and Awareness?

“For us specifically it’s to make the card ubiquitous, so that it’s commonplace that if you go to a service the providers will know what it means, understand it and will react to it. Going back to the first question, the problem of overlooking the Purple Pound is an inability to be responsive to a disabled person’s needs which means that you’re missing out on accessing that Purple Pound. It’s not knowing how to provide the customer with that service that makes them go to a different provider next time. We’re just looking for consistency.”


Interview by Pete Clark, TEDxDerby organiser

Find out more about the Access Card at www.accesscard.org.uk

Photo © Glyn Smith