Brian Seaman of Access New Business and Tourism for all, spoke at BALPPA’s recent Health & Safety Seminar at Drayton Manor Hotel about Accessibility issues in the attractions industry.
The key elements that were identified to help oil the wheels for disabled visitors are:
1/ Clear information (in advance) about what each site can offer disabled visitors. This could be using the Access Statement tool from the tourist boards: VisitEngland: www.access.tourismtools.co.uk/; VisitScotland:http://scotland.tourismtools.co.uk/. By doing this each site will be taking the same approach to information – helping to provide similar accurate and detailed information.
2/ Ensure concessions are clear for disabled guests + carer(s). From discussions yesterday, this obviously varies across BALPPA Member attractions. Asking disabled people for ‘proof’ of their disability could be seen as provocative. As Cadbury World says they offer concessions on a trust basis. Perhaps this should be a topic in itself at a future BALPPA meeting?
3/ Ensure customer facing staff are trained in disability and equality awareness. This is vital to avoid awkward moments on site and the possibility of a tribunal.
4/ Ensure all complaints from disabled people are handled and resolved at the earliest opportunity. Clearly Alton Towers swift response was well received by ‘Claire’.
5/ Ensure all aspects of accessibility are reviewed – not just the obvious ones for wheelchair users. Strobe lights linked to the fire alarm / hearing loops at reception desks / large print / clear signage etc.
6/ Consider providing Changing Places WCs at all larger attractions as this should increase ‘dwell’ time for families with profoundly disabled older children and young adults: http://www.changing-places.org/.
7/ Involve disabled people (invite them on a fam) as they do at Sandcastle Waterpark – try before you buy. Here’s a link to their Accessibility page: www.sandcastle-waterpark.co.uk/accessibility, and here’s a link to the film I used – please share with your Members: www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9IFAcLuUlM.
8/ Consider providing wheelchair accessible rides. Please see the attached message from a Mum with a disabled child that arrived in my in-box whilst I was talking – I think it sums it up.