Ashley Smith-Hammond

Euan’s Guide is a disabled access review website and app. Reviews are written by disabled people, their families and their friends but venues can list themselves and the amenities that they offer.

If you manage a cultural venue (theatre, cinema, museum, gallery, heritage attraction etc.) you can (and should!) make sure that your venue and its resources are listed on the site. If you are an arts organisation without a dedicated space, you can still encourage those venues you use to make sure they are listed.

There’s a lot that venues can do to make their spaces accessible to disabled people. Check out Euan’s Guide’s excellent blog post Top Tips For Museums and Galleries for ideas about what venues can do – it’s great advice for any arts organisation!

According to Euan’s Guide, many arts and cultural organisations are already doing a good job of making their spaces accessible to a range of audiences. Unfortunately, in many cases, arts organisations are doing a poor job of letting these audiences know about the resources that are in place to serve them. It’s a communication problem rather than an accessibility problem.

A few top tips

  • Do post the accessibility features you can provide to disabled visitors on your website. Don’t worry if your building or capacity limits you in being able to serve all forms of impairment. Just be honest and set reasonable expectations (around parking, toilets, induction loops, print materials and so on) so that visitors know before they arrive and can plan accordingly.
  • Do provide lots of pictures when you list your venue on Euan’s Guide – especially parking, elevators and toilets. Don’t worry that you are opening yourself up to criticism. Negative reviews are rare and venues have a right of reply. Plus – if there is something that you need to improve on it’s far better to know than to remain in the dark!
  • Do provide a warm welcome just as you would to any visitor. Don’t get anxious and treat the disabled visitor like a problem, passing your anxiety on to them. Access is as much about customer care as physical infrastructure.
  • Do talk to disabled people who use your space and find out what you could do better. Don’t take advantage though – show that you value their time by providing an incentive for their feedback with free tickets or other benefits.
  • Do allow patrons to book accessible tickets online! Don’t think of disabled audiences as an obligation, but instead an opportunity. There are almost 12 million disabled people in the United Kingdom and 6.5 million carers so they make up a significant market. (See also our context setting Disability in Scotland article.)
  • Do support your staff with specialised training and take advantage of the resources available to the cultural sector. Good places to start:
  • Finally, do offer an event as part of 2016’s Disabled Access Day on 12 March! Don’t worry if you’re not a venue – you can still organise an event or an outing. Watch this space for more information, Culture Republic Partners will be able to take part in our October First Wednesday session, which will help you plan for how to get involved with Disabled Access Day.

Euan’s Guide offers a practical solution to a basic need for reliable information. A Euan’s Guide access survey has found that 95% of visitors had looked for disabled access information prior to visiting a venue and that 87% of respondents had found accessibility information misleading or inaccurate. 73% reported that they had had a trip ruined by inaccurate accessibility information. But as we’ve learned this is a challenge that can be solved and you can be part of the solution.

Main image credit: Kaks Tooli by Aivar Ruukel (CC BY 2.0)