Tourism businesses in England and Scotland, such as hotels, restaurants and sightseeing attractions are being encouraged to produce ‘accessibility guides’ online to let visitors know about access facilities.
VisitEngland and VisitScotland, the official tourist boards for both countries, have launched a website that gives organisations a template for creating a guide. The result is a single, standardised page containing comprehensive access information for users.
This information is available in simple menus, telling users which areas in a venue have level access for wheelchair use, where there are hearing loops for visitors with hearing aids, and what facilities exist for visually impaired visitors, such as alternative print format menus.
Also on the page are contact details for each venue, travel and arrival information (such as accessible parking facilities and wheelchair-friendly ramps), and the option to download the page as a Word document.
Any business can use the site to produce a guide. Users just need to register through the site and are then guided through the process step-by-step. This includes looking at example guides, answering a questionnaire on access facilities at the venue and uploading photos.
Once the guide has been created, the business is given a unique URL to publish and share, allowing everyone to view the page. As the page is created through a standardised template, visitors can easily familiarise themselves with the format.
VisitEngland’s head of business support, Ross Calladine, told e-Access Bulletin that the guides enable potential visitors to make informed decisions about where to visit and stay, based on their individual needs.
Calladine said: “One in five of the UK population has accessibility requirements, meaning that about 20% of potential customers would like to have practical information on accessibility. Furthermore, with an ageing population, those with accessibility requirements are likely to represent an even larger section of the potential customer base. An accessibility guide helps businesses to future-proof their venue.”