Fashion Show criticised over Accessibility

Chelsey Jay
Chelsey Jay Image credit:

A leading fashion exhibition has been accused of being ‘so last season’ after a disabled guest was unable to attend a seminar.

Chelsey Jay, 24, from Essex copes with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome . She was invited to speak about the fashion industry commitment to disabled people at The Clothes Show in Birmingham last week.

The fashion expert is a director at Models of Diversity, a company which campaigns for more inclusively in the fashion industry.

Jay, a wheelchair user, had to travel from Essex to the Birmingham NEC on Tuesday 8 December: "I have been campaigning with Models Of Diversity for disability rights in fashion since I suddenly become disabled four years ago," she said.

"After communicating with the Clothes Show Live directors for over a year, I was offered a slot on the seminar panel, in which I could address the issue of disability inclusion in fashion in front of audience of fashion students.

"The day of the event came and I made the gruelling four hour trip to Birmingham, having to get on three different trains from Essex, due to the limitations I constantly face as a disabled traveller - its always complicated and time consuming,

"The fact that I did all this, and the journey back, for the treatment I received, only makes this whole thing worse."

Jay was met by a security guard at the venue: "He was so concerned at me pushing myself, as he enlightened me it was a mile from the station through to the NEC, that he left his post to aid me," she said.

"Andy subsequently stayed with me for the entire time, and I do not know what I would have done without this lovely stranger."

The organisers had warned Jay there was ‘a bit of a step’ to the stage, they forgot to mention this so-called-step was 15 inches off the ground…and the seminar was starting earlier than planned.

"I was not happy that I hadn't been notified that they were starting early," said Jay.

"Now I would be interrupting a room full of strangers and they would all be sat in silence seeing me pushed up a ramp onto the stage.

"I thought I was going to have a panic attack.

"Then it dawned on me. There was no ramp.

"I felt sick. I couldn't believe it. I left before I burst into tears in front of everyone."

The event organisers tweeted Jay after the event to apologise, they also tried to ring her but the campaigner refused to take any of their calls.