As part of my role at ELVis as an Activities Coordinator, I liaise with museums, theatres, leisure facilities, exhibition centres, galleries and other places of interests that I organise outings or activities for our vision impaired members.
Many of these venues have a fantastic accessibility procedure. For example, they may offer audio headsets, a guided tour, a touch tour, an object handling session, a facility where guide dogs can be looked after and so forth. On the other hand, I have been shocked to discover that well known establishments have little to no accessibility procedures at all. In these situations, I have worked alongside their access/learning group advisor on how experiences for blind and partially sighted people can be enhanced to enable an enjoyable visit, as a planned outing through ELVis or when they visit by themselves.
In my experience from working with these organisations, I have discovered a lack of awareness- they do not know what access provisions need to be in place to make their services accessible. Therefore, I’ve initiated discussions around access for disabled customers to be made available. A recent example of this was a theatre in East London that didn’t have any idea what they could do to increase accessibility for visually impaired people. I went to have a chat with the theatre manager, and after a few months later, when I took a group of members along to watch a show, we were allocated seats at the front of the stage next to the toilets. Moreover, the actors came down after the show to meet our members and even let them have a feel of their costumes and props. The provision of access and support on the day marked an important step forward for the theatre in regards to catering for disabled people, and I am continuing to work with them so they can learn more about how best they can support their blind and partially sighted guests.
If you have visited a venue that wasn’t accessible or have avoided visiting a venue due to lack of accessibility, then why not get in touch with them! Changes only happen when organisations know there’s a need for change. The more people the better because more voices can make a difference!
I believe it is important that all venues are made accessible to enable independence, confidence and equal opportunities for people living with sight loss.
Written by Bhavini Makwana, ELVis Activities Coordinator