Disability-friendly days out across England
Physical disabilities can affect people in a number of ways, and no two people have the same requirements. A physical disability could mean that someone is wheelchair bound, needs a walking aid, or might have complex medical needs, and therefore might require additional support and resources when visiting a destination.
Across the UK more and more attractions and venues are becoming accessible. Whether it’s improving facilities for those living with a physical disability, or creating resources to ensure that those who might be wheelchair bound know the accessible routes, there are a number of ways that attractions can ensure they’re more accessibility friendly.
At Lifeways, it’s important to us that the people we support have the opportunity to enjoy days out, become a part of their local community, and live fulfilled lives. Below, we’ve shared some of our top picks from across the country, all of which are recognised for their excellent accessibility features.
What makes an attraction or venue accessible?
There are a number of ways that an attraction or venue can be made more accessible for those living with physical disabilities.
Whether it’s contrasting colours on wall displays for those with visual impairments, or displaying screens at an accessible height for those who might be in a wheelchair, they are all important features to consider.
- Guide books displayed in various formats are important for those who might have a visual impairment. Video content and guide books with an integrated BSL performance are key, too.
- Well-lit exits for those with visual impairments are important in helping people to recognise the difference between exits and standard doors.
- Accessible bathrooms should be available everywhere. Make sure you take your RADAR key if you have one, or ask a member of staff to use the accessible toilet.
- Wide corridors and ramps or lifts for those with reduced mobility and wheelchair users can help people to get around more easily and quickly.
- Induction loops for those with hearing loss should be included where possible, as well as staff members or guides that are trained in BSL or Makaton.
Our top picks for accessible days out in England
There are a number of attractions nationwide that have fantastic resources and plans in place for those visiting with a physical disability.
The Life Science Centre in Newcastle offers great facilities for people with limited mobility. They have level access with lifts and ramps to all floors, wheelchairs available to loan, and adjustable tables in their Making Studios.
Carers and assistants are offered free admission, but make sure to pre-book online. The centre has an ice rink from November each year, which is accessible and offers foot grips for accompanying carers. Hearing loops and printed guides are also available for people with impaired hearing and visual abilities.
Blackpool Zoo is a fully accessible visitor attraction. It’s a flat site with ramps at the upper level viewing areas, and wheelchairs are available to hire from reception. There’s an accessible toilet in every toilet block around the zoo, and a room available for personal care that includes a mobile hoist.
The zoo offers one free carer ticket per paying visitor, and there are a number of disabled parking bays near the entrance to the zoo.
Find support from Lifeways in Lancashire.
Football fans will enjoy a trip to the National Football Museum, and thanks to its great accessibility, it’s a great day out for all.
With lifts to all floors, accessible toilets and induction loops, those living with a physical disability can enjoy everything that the museum has to offer. Assistance animals are permitted for those with visual impairments, and wheelchairs are available to hire free of charge.
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Cadbury World is a fantastic day out for chocolate lovers, as visitors have the opportunity to learn about the history of the well-loved Cadbury’s chocolate.
For those living with a physical disability, the Birmingham-based attraction has a number of useful facilities including low-level desks, ramps, lifts, disabled toilets, tactile surface-level indicators and large print guides.
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Those looking for a day out in Derbyshire will enjoy a visit to Chatsworth House. A major stately home - both in its size and popularity, Chatsworth has a magnificent house and gardens.
The house is fully accessible throughout, with a lift to all floors. Those with visual impairments can be provided with a free audio tour of the house or a larger print guide book. The shops, carriage house and restaurant are all fully accessible, and the gardens have a wheelchair-friendly route.
A trailer offers rides to the woods and lakes behind the house, although wheelchair users need to pre-book their space. Wheelchairs are available for use in the house and grounds, and electric scooters for use in the grounds.
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Stoke-on-Trent is home to the World of Wedgwood - a wonderful day out in the heart of Staffordshire. Enjoy a factory tour or a craft workshop, or discover Wedgwood’s design history.
Wheelchairs are available to hire, and there are elevators to each floor. Carers are offered free admission onto the factory tours, and the entire venue is guide and therapy dog friendly. Surfaces are flat up to the main entrance, and the friendly team are on hand to offer assistance where you may need it.
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History buffs should visit Dorset’s top-rated attraction for an enjoyable day out. The Tank Museum allows visitors to view tanks from over the years and see them in action. There’s also the opportunity to hear accounts from war veterans and learn about the history of this great British invention.
Access is excellent, including lifts, ramps and broad pathways. There is ample disabled parking and wheelchair access to a viewing point over the arena.
The Eden Project has long been known for its fantastic facilities, and approach to accessibility. A wonderful escape from the everyday, the Eden Project is a global garden with plenty to see and do.
For wheelchair users, accessibility is good across the Project. However, if you’re looking to go and explore further into the gardens, there are a number of wheelchair types available to hire. Self-propelled and powered wheelchairs can be booked in advance, and an All-terrain Tramper mobility scooter is also available - giving the option to discover the extensive outdoor gardens and estate.
Assistance dogs are welcome, there is ample disabled parking, and numerous accessible toilets are provided. There are a number of activities which are all accessible, and the zipwire can be opened an hour early (on request) so that disabled users can have exclusive use of the areas to enjoy with friends or family.
London Transport Museum is the world’s leading museum of modern and urban transport. It is accessible for wheelchair users, with level access at the ticket desk and lifts to all floors. Ramps are available in some areas, and accessible toilets are available onsite.
There are large-print ‘highlights tours’ for those who are visually impaired, which are available from the ticket desk and the information desk. Magnifiers can also be provided. Assistance dogs are welcome, and water bowls are available. It’s worth noting that the area outside the Museum is cobbled, but there is a level path part of the way round.
The Access Card
The Access Card exists as a Disability Passport - offering those with disabilities an easy way to book tickets and gain entry into attractions and events, without needing to fill in the timely and repetitive paperwork which sometimes comes with booking concessionary tickets.
It’s a physical card which helps to translate someone’s disability or impairment into discrete symbols which highlight the barriers someone might face, and any reasonable adjustments required.
The Access Card is helpful for not only its users, but to support workers who often might need to assist with the paperwork when booking tickets to an event or for a day out.
A number of nationwide, recognised providers are already signed up to the scheme, offering discounts and easy booking for those with Access Cards. However, more and more businesses are signing up everyday, and the Access Card is still recognised by many attractions and events which aren’t yet signed up to the scheme.
Event ticket providers such as ATG and The Ticket Factory recognise Access Cards on booking, and Merlin - owners of attractions across the world, including Legoland, Madame Tussauds, the London Eye and more, are signed up to the scheme too.
How Lifeways can help
Lifeways offers both supported living and residential care for those living with a physical disability. We take a personalised approach to our care, to help people living with physical disabilities to live a fulfilled life.
Michelle is one of the people we support, and has a new-found confidence after finding her independence. Michelle is feeling really positive about her future, especially using her new electric wheelchair to explore her local community. Her goal for the future is to regain as much independence as possible.
Whether it’s 24-7 support or just a few hours a week, our support plans are always bespoke. We take the time to get to know the people we support, to ensure we understand the challenges they’ve overcome, and the difficulties they face. Read our blog about some of the things to look out for when choosing the right support living service for a family member with a physical disability, or start the search to find support near you.