Going through the gears at The Experience on Disabled Access Day
The Experience is a Glasgow entertainment and events venue who took part in Disabled Access Day for the first time this year. We caught up with Geoff to find out about the Access for All programme that they run and how taking part in Disabled Access Day helped to raise awareness.
We have always been an inclusive, accessible venue and were delighted to take part in Disabled Access Day. Our full range of activities, which include electric go-karting, laser tag, slot car racing and multisensory room are accessible to all, as is our Academy Restaurant. We have a dedicated support worker who liaises with local groups and charities, and so far we have run over 400 karting sessions for users with additional support needs. We hope that by taking part in Disabled Access Day awareness of our activities beyond karting would be increased.
What did you do on Disabled Access Day?
On the day itself we offered free tea or coffee and homemade scones to visitors, with staff on hand to give guided tours of the facility. We also offered free taster sessions on our tandem and side-by-side karts, and our sensory room was available for guests to use too. We had a good uptake on the day, with some new visitors coming because of Disabled Access Day. It will now become a feature on our annual calendar of events and we’re sure in the coming years it will gain an ever higher profile.
What is your Access for All programme?
Our Access for All programme is at the very heart of our mission at The Experience – ensuring our facilities are readily available for users of all ages and abilities. From the onset of the project we wanted to make our venue a first class experience for all users. The venue is mostly on one level, with wide passageways and doors to allow free movement within the space. We have three accessible toilets within the building and an accessible changing room with changing bed and mobile hoist. Our Destination Lounge, featuring the front fuselage of a Boeing 737, is accessed via metal tread stairs or a lift.
When it comes to activities we are just as confident that all users will have a great time, with four tandem karts for users with reasonable mobility. In the tandem karts passengers sit directly behind a member of our crew who drives the kart. We also have a side-by-side kart for those not able to get into the tandem kart. These are also suitable for most wheelchair users, again this kart must be driven by a crew member. When designing laser tag we also made sure that it was accessible, with enough space between features so wheelchair users can take part in laser battles. The sensory room is free to use for disabled visitors and their families, and features a digital interactive floor, a bubble tube, fibre optic glow lights, an aroma and mist generator, a tactile disc, and vibrating platform. Our supersized slot car track is also fully accessible, ensuring everyone can enjoy the fun. The Academy Restaurant is a great place to relax and enjoy freshly prepared meals and, as with all that we do, it is fully accessible with a variety of seating options.
How did you ensure The Experience was accessible for everyone?
As our space is largely purpose built we have ensured all facilities are accessible and inclusive. Consulting with different user groups meant we could take into account specific requirements and amend plans at an early stage. This included simple things such as painting door frames in a contrasting colour, to having a water bowl for assistance dogs - things that are easily overlooked but are important. We constantly strive to ensure that we can welcome a broad range of visitors, and are currently working on our Access Statement for users, a fantastic resource that once completed will offer an at a glance guide to disabled access at The Experience.
What advice would you give other venues?
Organisations that are committed to accessibility will find help is readily available to demystify some of the issues regarding disabled access. For example, VisitScotland have a great free online Accessible Tourism training course that can help to ensure all visitors have a fantastic experience. The positive effect on staff cannot be underestimated, staff at The Experience are very supportive and enthusiastic about our Access for All programme. It’s good for the customer, it’s good for the business and good for the staff… so stop reading and start doing!
Sign up your venue to Disabled Access Day now and take the opportunity to showcase their accessibility! We also have a range of resources that you might find useful when thinking about accessibility and deciding how you might get involved in Disabled Access Day.