Celebrating great days out for Disabled Access Day

Sign language video at the Science Museum Information Age exhibition Credit: Science Museum
To mark the UK’s first-ever Disabled Access Day, Liz Ellis, Policy Adviser for Communities and Diversity at the Heritage Lottery Fund, shares her top choices for great accessible days out at heritage sites in the UK.

Throughout 2015 I will be writing about some of the accessible sites, events and good practice in place across the UK, with a focus on enjoyable, inclusive approaches to disability. This week I’m focusing on accessible visits to HLF-funded sites.

This year’s Disabled Access Day, on Saturday 17 January, is all about ‘getting out and visiting a venue that you’ve never been to before’. This could be anywhere from a park, to a museum; from a historic building, to a community centre. Here are my five top trips to inspire you:

Explore the great outdoors

Kick-start your New Year’s resolution to ‘get outside more’, and explore the Leeds to Liverpool waterside. The area is full of sensory experiences for blind and partially sighted people, with flowing water, the operation of the locks and the sound of wildlife. Tactile information boards, developed by blind and partially sighted volunteers, are designed to help visitors learn more about the local area.

Journey in the footsteps of giants…

Experience the dramatic landscape of Northern Ireland’s only World Heritage Site, the Giant’s Causeway. Recent upgrades include a new, accessible cliff-top trail, for families and people with disabilities, which offers a bird’s eye view of the beautiful coastline. You can also learn about the stories and science behind the famous basalt columns at the new state-of-the-art accessible visitor centre.

Sights, sounds and smells

This is a wonderful time of year to visit the Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park, London. Despite the cooler winter weather, you can still experience a whole host of sights, smells and sounds, including early camellias, winter-flowering heathers, and resident bird species. It’s a beautiful, relaxing place to explore with excellent paths and good access throughout.

Experience space-age design in a historic setting

Catch up with friends over a coffee at All Souls Bolton and explore the church’s dramatic new design. You can discover the historic interior via new high-level walkways, which allow visitors to get close to the windows, war memorials and amazing timber roof of the church.

Delve into the Information Age

How about tweeting a ‘selfie’ from the Science Museum’s Information Age exhibition in London? This newly-opened gallery brings you dynamic, personal stories of communication.

You’ll find a variety of multi-sensory resources, including BSL video and tactile information boards, all specifically designed for this gallery thanks to an advisory panel of blind and partially sighted individuals, who worked in consultation with Science Museum staff. You can also download an exciting new app, featuring four creative challenges to help you get more from your visit.

You can check out more #disabledaccessday recommendations by following us on Twitter.

I’ll be back with another update from HLF in April, sharing more upcoming disability news, events and good practice in 2015. Until then, all at HLF are wishing you, your friends and family a great Disabled Access Day out!

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