Access Statements are essential in the information age

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About Access discuss how access statements are important for attractions, providing information before visiting

It’s a scenario we’ve all read about in the papers and seen on the TV – a disabled person arrives at a visitor attraction only to find they can’t get in.

Their disappointment prompts them to complain to the media, the venue takes a hit to its reputation, and everybody is left unhappy by a situation which was entirely avoidable.

It’s not possible of course to make every property completely accessible for every individual. Sometimes there isn’t the space to accommodate ramps, lifts and other features that can help people around the obstacles, and there are limits on the modifications that can be made to listed buildings.

But in the modern era there’s no excuse for not making information available to people so they can assess the suitability of a destination before they visit. Access Statements are becoming more widely used, and prepared and presented properly they can tell people the details they need to make an informed decision about the accessibility of a site and whether it is suitable for them.

Examples

An example is the Emmerdale tour, but it’s not just the busy, household-name attractions that should anticipate the requirements of disabled visitors. Venue operators should take a look at their offer and consider whether they are promoting it effectively to all of their potential visitors, including those who have impairments.

We were asked by Derry City & Strabane District Council to produce an Access Audit and an Access Statement for the Derry Walls, which define the “old town” quarter at the heart of the modern city of Derry Londonderry.

The walls are an excellent example of an attraction where there are limits to the level of accessibility that can be achieved because of the nature of the site, but they are popular with visitors and awareness will increase as they count down to their 400th anniversary in 2019. Our current project will help the local authority welcome more visitors by setting out in purely factual terms the details of the steps, gradients, various different walking surfaces and any other factors that are relevant.

Emmerdale’s Access Statement extends to seven pages, opening with a commitment to “accurately describe the facilities and services that we offer all our guests”.

Among the highlights is an advisory that the visit is an “active walking tour”, exclusively outside and taking in some steep gradients and a variety of surfaces including grass, gravel paths, pavements and cobbles.

There is information about the coach transfer service and about the options for people who cannot complete the tour without a wheelchair. The venue provides printed scripts for guests who have hearing impairments, fully accessible loos at the start and end of the tour and a free carer ticket for each paying disabled visitor. Assistance dogs are welcome.

Honest access statements boost business credibility

The attraction wants to be accessible and a key part of that is taking the trouble to set out, as clearly as possible, the information that will help people decide in advance whether to make the visit.

Some of the content is the sort of information you would provide for anybody – non-disabled people benefit from knowing how much of a site is open to the elements and how long it takes to work your way round the property.

By providing such information as part of a good Access Statement you can make your business stand out from the competition.

More from About Access can be read on their stakeholder page.

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