Thanks to National Lottery players, the Heritage Lottery Fund has just awarded a grant of £527,000 to the Heritage Ability scheme.
The scheme involves a huge variety of much-loved places, from the National Trust Tin Coast in West Cornwall, to the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire and country parks in Dorset.
In 2016, disability charity Living Options Devon carried out a range of consultation activities to build a greater understanding of the barriers experienced by disabled and Deaf people when visiting heritage sites.
The consultation highlighted the same key barriers:
- Poor physical access.
- Lack of disability and Deaf awareness.
- Lack of accessible interpretation.
- Lack of information about access and lack of facilities for people with disabilities and Deaf people.
Led by a team of disabled and Deaf volunteers and advisors, the project includes improving access for people with physical disabilities, establishing British Sign Language as part of each sites' interpretation and making adaptations to improve experiences for those with autism.
By developing tailored ways of working for each site, and providing training for heritage site staff, the project aims to make long-term changes to the accessibility of heritage in the South West.
Working closely with a team of disabled and Deaf volunteers and advisors, the three-year project will focus on:
· Making it easier to plan ahead
· Improving interpretation and use of British Sign Language
· Transforming physical access