On the evening of Wednesday 22nd May 2019, the Pump Room filled with locals and not-so-locals interested in improving Buxton’s accessibility. Hosted by Sandra Jowett from Buxton Festival Fringe and Scott Russell from the Buxton Crescent Heritage Trust, the evening began with a performance from Chesterfield’s Fairplay Signing Choir to the delight of the audience: one performer exclaimed “we made two people happy cry”.
The aim of the evening was to bring people together to discuss accessibility, learn what the issues are, what is in place in the town already, gauge the appetite for taking things forward and to begin a positive discussion. Considering the event was fully booked with more wanting to attend and others unable to, it is clear that accessibility is an issue which needs addressing. Representatives from range of organisations attended including accommodation providers, local attractions, festivals, disability and accessibility groups, local venues and councils.
Gillan Scotford and Jane Caver from Accessible Derbyshire and Access for All UK consultancy introduced some of the issues and requirements for those with accessibility needs and Justin Palfrey from Parkwood Leisure gave a presentation on the work they do to make their sites accessible. This was followed by short introductions by attendees and the raising of key points and issues. These are summarised below.
The Purple Pound
Over 13 million people in the UK have accessibility needs and the accessible tourism economy is estimated to be £12.1b. For every one person with accessibility needs, you attract an entire party of carers, friends and/or family. And once they have found somewhere they can visit and feel relaxed, they will often stay longer than other holiday-goers and they will be loyal visitors. There are “three pillars”, three requirements – information, facilities and customer service.
Groups planning accessible trips do their research! Is there information out there? Do you market directly on accessibility forums – Accessible Britain, Tourism for All, Euan’s Guide (a disabled access review site). Is information available on your social media pages? Is there information on your website? Is it easy to find? Is it detailed? Is it available in different formats?
Toilets, toilets and toilets. Toilet facilities are the most important thing when deciding if a visit is possible. Are there large changing facilities for young people and adults? Are there even changing facilities for babies and children? How far is it to the nearest public toilet? Parking is also an issue – are there wheelchair-accessible parking spaces? Are there spaces near the venues? Signage, seating and street furniture, particularly A-boards, are also considerations.
Is there someone who can help? Are your workers trained in disability awareness? Is there a warm welcome for those with disabilities?
A warm welcome can mean the world.
Consideration of those with disabilities can mean the world.
Suggestions for your business/organisation
- Make accessibility information easy to find
- List accessibility information on focused websites e.g. Accessible Derbyshire
- Share information at Access Exchange Conferences
- Include pictures and testimonials to increase confidence of a successful trip
- Train your workers so they can answer questions about accessibility
- Train your workers so they are welcoming and aware
- Give lots of detailed (and correct) information or inaccessibility will be assumed
- Show pictures or offer a virtual tour
- Get an accessibility audit and work with local accessibility groups to improve what you can
Suggestions for Buxton
- Centralised, easy to find information
- Improved signage to include symbols
- Large, accessible toilets with changing facilities for adults
- Improved parking with wheelchair accessible spaces
- Wheelchair accessible transportation around the town, particularly up to Higher Buxton
- Sensory trail around the town and map
- Accessibility map
- Enforce closure of Spring Gardens to traffic
- Training in dementia and disability awareness
- Improve pavements, curbs and prevent parking on the pavement
- Develop an Accessibility Plan
- Portable ramps for pop-up venues
- Itineraries for visits
- Wheelchair accessible attractions
A common phrase uttered during the discussion of what was already available in the town was “I didn’t know that”.
Vision Buxton will work to improve the accessibility information on the Visit Buxton website (click the link to see current information) so please send us the details of what facilities are in place at your premises/accommodation, what events and activities are available for those with disabilities and any other relevant information.
Vision Buxton is also hoping to host a Disability Awareness Training session. Please get in touch if you are interested in attending one.