The pub chain has taken this initiative after an incident where a customer who didn’t appear to be disabled was told off by staff for using its accessible toilets.
Amber Davies was questioned by staff at a JD Wetherspoon site in Birmingham last month, pushing the company to reassess its approach to customers with invisible disabilities.
It is the first major pub chain to install new signage on all its accessible toilets to support a campaign to tackle stigma and discrimination towards people with hidden health conditions.
Just under half of people with Crohn’s or Colitis said they felt prevented from going to pubs (43%) because they fear discrimination when trying to use accessible toilets, as reported by The Morning Advertiser.
More than 48,000 emails have been sent to the 15 largest pub and restaurant chains across the country since Crohn’s & Colitis launched its campaign targeting hospitality businesses in April 2019.
The charity said it is now in discussions with 13 of these businesses about changing their signage and training staff on the hidden conditions.
More than eight in 10 people with Crohn’s or Colitis said they feel more comfortable visiting places with the Not Every Disability is Visible signs installed in the charity's research last year.
Crohn’s & Colitis UK chief executive Sarah Sleet said the chain was paving the way for supporting customers with hidden health conditions.
She said: “JD Wetherspoon has made a simple but significant change in minimising the impact Crohn’s and Colitis can have on people’s lives – we know that these signs make a real difference to people living with these devastating conditions.
"We are grateful to the company for joining our campaign and showing their commitment to tackling stigma and discrimination for all their customers.”
Confident to access
JD Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon added: “We want to make sure all of our customers feel comfortable when visiting any of our pubs.
"We’re delighted to install these new signs that help to both increase awareness that not all disabilities are visible, and to ensure that anyone who needs to, can feel confident using our accessible toilets.”
Pub companies interested in installing Not Every Disability is Visible campaign signage can get in touch with the charity via its website.