Disability charity Vitalise is warning some of the UK’s top tourist attractions, many of them run by charities or not-for-profit organisations, that they could be missing out on income if they do not improve access for disabled visitors.
The charity surveyed 100 of the most-visited tourist attractions in the UK. It found that:
- 27% did not have essential accessibility information on their websites;
- only 17% had all their staff trained in disability awareness;
- only 15% were equipped with hoists – an indispensable item for many disabled visitors
As a result, Vitalise suggests that tourist venues “could risk missing out on a share of £212 billion a year value of ‘Purple Pound’ due to lack of accessibility”. It highlighted the upcoming half-term break as an opportunity for tourist attractions to make the most of.
Yet a recent Vitalise survey found that 65% of people with disabilities have decided against visiting a tourist attraction because they found their accessibility information to be insufficient, confusing or difficult to obtain.
Some positive progress in accessibility
Of course, many tourist attractions do cater for disabled visitors. Vitalise noted:
- 82% of venues had overall Vitalise accessibility scores of over 70%;
- 36% of the venues surveyed had a ratio of disabled to non-disabled toilets of 20% or more – greater than the proportion of disabled people in the general population (19%);
- 8 out of 10 venues had fully accessible approaches from outside areas.
Good practice examples
Tate Modern in London, the world’s most visited art gallery, topped Vitalise’s table in the survey with a score of 94.3%. Closely followed in second place with 92% each were the Imperial War Museum London, the Museum of Liverpool and the National Railway Museum in York, with Tate Britain in third on 91.8%.
You can download the report on the 100 tourist venues (in PDF) from Vitalise.
As a result of its findings Vitalise has launched #AccessNow, a new campaign to enlist the support of people with disabilities in its push for urgent improvements to accessibility.
The charity is inviting people with disabilities to share their experiences of visiting tourist attractions and other public venues via an online form on the its website. They can also share their experiences and photos/videos by posting on social media with the hashtag #AccessNow.
Vitalise Chairman Mindy Sawhney said:
“We’re asking venues to focus their efforts on three things: first – and easiest – make sure your website has clear, practical and accurate information about accessibility. Shockingly, many do not. Second, be imaginative about how to make 100% of your visitor experience accessible to people using wheelchairs. And third, make a hoist available at every venue: these cost comparatively little to install and yet are often the determining factor in whether or not a person living with a disability can enjoy what so many of us can take for granted.
“The best advice we can give to venues is to involve people with disabilities in your plans – they know what real accessibility means and will tell you the truth about whether you’re getting it right”.
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