One city's journey to DAD

case studies, 2016, DMOs, West Yorkshire, England

One city's journey to DAD

It was last December when we got a call from Rachel at Leeds City Council asking if we could spare a speaker to attend their Disabled Access Day event, little did we know at the time how much planning had gone into creating a city wide event that would truly put Leeds on the map as an accessible city. Leeds City Council was the first council to take such a holistic approach to getting involved in Disabled Access Day and we hope that lots of other council’s destination management organisations and groups will take a similar approach in 2017! So how did it all come about? Find out more about what went into taking a city approach to Disabled Access Day:

How did it come about?

This time last year we bumped into some of the team from Leeds City Council at Naidex, the UK’s largest disability, rehabilitation and home care event. After telling them all about Disabled Access Day and Euan’s Guide we were pleased to touch base with them again in December and hear all about their plans for 12th March.

What planning went into creating Disabled Access Day?

A working group was set up to co-ordinate a truly city wide approach to Disabled Access Day. The group included representatives from different sections of the local council, including museums, libraries and sports centres among others. A meeting in December saw different venues confirm their events for the day, a plan put in place for marketing the events and actions given to different members of the group to help ensure the day was a success.

It was after this meeting that we had a call from Rachel, Access Officer at the council, to see if we could provide a speaker for the opening of the event. Paul Ralph, Founder of Disabled Access Day, was so impressed by their approach that he happily volunteered to visit Leeds for the first time and check out what was going on – and he was not disappointed!

How did we work with Leeds City Council?

After the initial contact, we worked with Leeds City Council to get the events up on the website and help promote the day through our own channels. As each venue is asked to register on Euan’s Guide we asked the committee to ask each of the venues to sign up and share their access information, once that was done we could then add their events.

In 2016, we created hub cities and defined these as cities where more than ten events or activities were happening. Leeds quickly became a hub city, with events happening all across the city from Leeds City Museum in the centre to Tropical World and Lotherton Hall a bit further out. As a small team at Disabled Access Day, we focussed our attention on the hub cities and worked to get press coverage and raise awareness of the events that were happening. We worked closely with the team to put together a press release to help promote the day locally, and we also secured radio coverage with BBC Leeds on the day to promote the events as well.

How was the day marketed?

As well as being marketed by each of the individual venues that were involved in the day, a specific web page was set up advertising all of the activities that took place on Leeds Inspired and the day was also promoted on Visit Leeds. Information was frequently shared on Twitter through Leeds City Council, Leeds Museums, Leeds Inspired and Visit Leeds helping to ensure a wide reach.

We also spoke to local charities that we already had connections with and advised them about the events and asked them to help promote what was going on, which many did. Finally, through being a hub city we created blog posts on the Disabled Access Day website, a Pinterest board of the activities that happened there and promoted the events regularly through our own social media channels.

What happened on the day?

There were lots of events! Leeds City Museum was a hive of activity with over ten different activities going on from an early bird opening to touch tours to arts and craft activities for children. The council also displayed their portable Changing Places toilet which is available for people to hire for their own events. Plus, there was an opening speech from Paul Ralph and a range of different departments had displays so people could find out more about the accessible facilities and services offered by the council.

As well as this, Tropical World opened early, Lotherton Hall had a whole range of activities and Leeds Grand Theatre had a touch tour before an audio described tour of Swan Lake. Four local libraries and South Leeds Stadium also held events.

There were 1,300 visitors to the museum alone on Disabled Access Day, although they weren’t all specifically visiting for Disabled Access Day, many people on the day became more aware of the different facilities and services offered by the council and local organisations. Lots of people were given the opportunity to try something new – which is what Disabled Access Day is all about!

We want to promote our city or region too!

Great! We’d love you to get involved in the next Disabled Access Day and we’re hoping that lots more councils and destination management organisations will get on board with the day and take a similar approach. Please get in touch with the team to discuss how we can work with you to help put your city or region on the map: takepart@disabledaccessday.com.

You might also be interested in reading our blog about Visit Flanders who took a similar approach to Disabled Access Day.