A Euan's Guide reviewer's experience on Disabled Access Day
Gary Smith, Euan’s Guide Reviewer of the Year 2014, took part in this year’s Disabled Access Day for the first time. A true adventurer, Gary decided to hop on a train from Edinburgh to take in the sites of London – and he definitely did that! Visiting ten attractions in London over the weekend, Gary certainly took on board the spirit of visiting somewhere new! Find out what Gary said about his experience when we caught up with him recently:
I visited London for Disabled Access Day and took the opportunity to visit lots of places I hadn’t been to before, from horsing around at the Household Cavalry Museum to visiting the oasis of calm that’s St Paul’s Cathedral for evensong, I had a fantastic day. It was quite a whistle stop tour for me as I wanted to visit as many places as possible, but it was really informative and enjoyable.
One of my favourite visits was to the London Canal Museum, which I found to be a really interesting place to visit and very accessible. The museum is split on to two floors, but there is a platform lift which makes it easy to get about and see everything on offer. It was also great to see a large print version of the canal map.
One of the things that surprised me was that I visited some historic buildings on the day which I was a little apprehensive about but they proved to have great access, including the Houses of Parliament and St. Paul’s Cathedral. If buildings like these can be accessible – then everywhere else can too!
The National Theatre was also great, proving they’re accessible to lots of people: they had great wheelchair access, BSL tours, captioned tours and even tactile models of the stage for visually impaired people. Taking part in Disabled Access Day really opened my eyes to the fact that there are a lot more accessible places that I can visit in London than I first thought.
I hope that other people who took part in the day across the UK had similar experiences to me! I found it to be a really positive experience, turning up to a venue and seeing the Disabled Access Day signage gave me confidence and made me happy that so many venues were taking access seriously. Sometimes I worry or feel like I’m a hindrance when I visit venues, so it was great to receive such warm welcomes and feel included at so many venues and in so many fun activities on the day. When I visit London next, I’ll be sure to go back and spend more time at the venues I visited on Disabled Access Day.
Next year I would love to see more individuals and more venues get involved. The more people take part in the day, the more businesses will start to notice and realise that they should be providing accessible services and facilities for everyone. There are no limits as to how far this can grow and I’m already excited for what could happen next year. So, mark next year’s date in your diary, get talking to local businesses and get involved in 2017 – let’s make this massive!