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Accessible heritage sites for all

Visual Guides for UNESCO Global Geopark

Date Posted: 1 October 2020

Heritage Ability to provide visual guides to 10 partner sites of The English Riviera UNESCO Global Geopark

As part of the Geopark Transformation Plan, Heritage Ability will be supporting sites with improving accessibility for visitors with disabilities, as well as supporting their recovery plans and re opening following the coronavirus pandemic.

Heather Brown of local charity Living Options Devon of which oversees the accessibility scheme Heritage Ability said "Funded through Torbay Council, we will be working with up to 10 sites, including Torre Abbey and Cockington Court.  We are really excited to be involved in this project and really look forward to continuing our work in the local area to improve access for those visiting heritage sites in the south west".

Award winning Heritage Ability has so far worked with over 20 sites across the South West to improve visitor experience through production of accessible products aimed at the disabled and Deaf community. Funded through the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the project has produced 22 tried and tested Visual Guides for various sites including country parks, museums, mines and historical houses.

What's a Visual Guide?

The Visual Guide is an online tool to help people plan and consider their visit to a new place. The Visual Guide shows anything at the site that may come as an unwelcome surprise. It covers functional information like entry prices, parking and facilities, but also highlights elements like sound levels, lighting types, spaces and bespoke features that may cause alarm or confusion. The aim is to give the reader a clear understanding of exactly what they can expect when visiting places in order that they can be fully prepared and remove the ‘fear of the unknown’.

The Visual Guide was originally developed to benefit people on the Autistic Spectrum, yet they also help neurodiverse children and adults feel comfortable and confident delving into the somewhat alien world of our industrial past. The Visual Guide can also benefit many people including those who have physical mobility issues and those with social anxiety.

Feeling safe during Covid 19 - The importance of the Visual Guide is relevant now more than ever; with sites beginning to re-open, wanting to attract visitors.  Yet many people feel too vulnerable or nervous to venture out to heritage sites or tourist locations. The Visual Guide helps alleviate some of these concerns by informing visitors exactly what they can expect during their visit and ensuring that the site is Covid-secure. All Visual Guides developed by Heritage Ability conform to accessibility standards and best practice in providing accessible information as outlined in the Equality Act 2010.

For more information on Heritage Ability and how it can support you in improving access of your heritage site or tourist attraction please email [email protected]