What's the spirit of Disabled Access Day?
Disabled Access Day is all about visiting somewhere new, whether that’s a cinema, coffee shop, museum or anywhere else. It’s about creating opportunities for disabled people to try something new in an atmosphere of cooperation, safety and fun and we hope that many people across the UK will join us and share their experiences.
We’re pleased to say that over 200 venues have taken up the opportunity to get involved in the day and showcase their accessibility, welcome new people to their venue and / or try out something new themselves. While we wish that every day was disabled access day, we recognise that for now that’s not the case. However, there are lots of venues across the UK that have great accessibility, who want to try new activities, receive open and honest feedback and engage with new customers.
So what has changed since last year?
Last year Disabled Access Day took place on 17th January and we received lots of positive feedback from both venues and people who took part on the day. Lots of venues used the day as an opportunity to try out new activities or launch a new feature or service and that’s what Disabled Access Day is all about!
One example of this is Borough Market, who used the inaugural Disabled Access Day to have their first BSL interpreted cooking demonstration. Talking about their event last year, a representative from Borough Market explained: “The response was amazing: a packed crowd absorbing the signed commentary as enthusiastically as they gobbled up the samples. There was clearly an audience for this—a passionate group of food lovers who had never previously had access to our demos. So we carried on. Disabled Access Day finished, but our commitment to Deaf people continued. Now and for the foreseeable future, on the second Friday of every month, a sign language interpreter is on hand at the demonstration kitchen, signing away beside the stove while some of the best cooks in the country work their magic.”
And it’s not only Borough Market, Cutty Sark have now introduced regular audio described tours following a trial last January on Disabled Access Day. Plus, lots of other venues have taken the opportunity to assess their access, train their staff and look at what they can do to improve their services and facilities.
What are venues doing this year?
We’re really pleased to see that lots of venues this year are also trying out new things, launching new products and improving their accessibility in time for 12th March. Take a look at just some examples below.
The Sea Life Centre in London will be trialling their first ever early bird opening on 12th March with a view to make them regular following feedback from people on the day. Reviews on Euan’s Guide tell us that people tend to find the experience over whelming due to the number of people at the Aquarium, so it’s great to see they’re trialling an early bird session where there are limited spaces, extra staff on hand to help and a chill out room.
The Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther will be trialling their first descriptive and touch tour on 12th March and asking people who take part for feedback. They are keen to improve their accessibility and want to speak to people about their experience at the museum, and would love to chat to people over a free tea or coffee.
The People’s History Museum in Manchester is a museum that celebrates the history of ideas worth fighting for. They recognise that disability is under-represented in the museum and are inviting people to join them on Disabled Access Day to discuss how it could be better represented over a cup of tea and a biscuit.
That’s just a small flavour of some of the fantastic things that are being offered on Disabled Access Day. Venues this year have also been asked to sign up to Euan’s Guide, the disabled access review website and app, ensuring that they are sharing their access information and inviting people to leave reviews so they can directly see and respond to people’s feedback.
Speaking to Euan’s Guide Reviewer of the Year 2015, Gary Smith, he said: “Not everyone has the confidence to try new things, Disabled Access Day gives people that confidence to try something new which is fantastic. Of course, everyday should be Disabled Access Day, however that’s not the case at the moment and you have to start somewhere.”
And in the words of a participant last year: “it’s great to have a non-whingey voice for the frustrations of getting about in a world that is sometimes unaware of the disabled population.”
We hope you’ll join us on 12th March and try something new, make sure you let us know what you get up to! Find out what's on near you using our event search.