27 Jan 2016

Leisure, Arts, Culture and Events

New Bristol Access Guide is launched

A new online access guide to Bristol has been launched today (Wednesday 27 January).

The Bristol Access Guide - a partnership between Disabled Go, Bristol City Council and Destination Bristol - is aimed at making the city more accessible for residents and visitors, maximising independence and choice for disabled people in Bristol.

The free online guide provides access information for 1,000 venues across Bristol including shops, restaurants, leisure centres, hotels, libraries, parks and cinemas.

All of the venues have been visited and assessed by a DisabledGo surveyor, who has looked at a whole range of accessibility features from parking to toilets. 

The guide includes information relevant for anyone with an access need, including people with mobility impairments, sensory impairments, learning difficulties and people on the autistic spectrum.  It does not label venues as “good” or “bad”, or “accessible” or “inaccessible”; it provides information to let the user decide whether the venue is suitable for their own individual access needs.

Disabled people, the parents of disabled children and young people, older people and carers joined George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, John Hirst, Chief Executive of Destination Bristol and Anna Borthwick, Executive Director of DisabledGo at the launch, which was held at The Great Eastern Hall, ss Great Britain.

Representatives from Bristol Disability Equality Forum and Bristol Physical Access Chain also attended. 

Mayor Ferguson, who opened the event, said: “Making Bristol a place where the cared for and the caring, young and old, are fully respected and valued members of our society, and can play an active role in their communities, has always been one of my top priorities for creating a healthier, happier Bristol.
“We recognise that people’s freedom and access are often limited by poor design and lack of information, which contributes to social isolation and prevents people from engaging with public life.
“The access guide is one piece of the puzzle, with a range of whole city initiatives aimed at improving access for Bristol residents and visitors, such as the new arena, integrated transport initiatives and city centre redesign.”

Daniella Radice, Assistant Mayor for Neighbourhoods, said: “I welcome this new access guide to Bristol which will help increase independence and choice for disabled people, older people and their carers.  I hope the guide will help more people to get out and about to enjoy the very best our wonderful city has to offer.” 

John Hirst, Destination Bristol Chief Executive, said: “Bristol is home to venues that lead the way in being welcoming and accessible to all. Indeed, Colston Hall and Bristol Hippodrome have both been named among the six finalists in the Access and Inclusivity category of next month’s South West Tourism Excellence Awards.

“This free guide has the potential to make visiting Bristol much easier and more enjoyable for many. We hope such expert insight into the accessibility of Bristol venues will open up a world of possibilities for those planning a visit here, and allow them to have the best possible experiences during their stay.”

Anna Borthwick, Executive Director of DisabledGo, said: “We are thrilled to launch the access guide to Bristol and would like to thank everyone involved. Bristol is an exciting, vibrant city and we believe that the guide to over 1,000 venues and places of interest will enable more disabled people, their families and friends to enjoy everything it has to offer.

“The project has been made possible thanks to Bristol City Council and Destination Bristol, who I would like to sincerely thank. Local disability organisations and disabled people have also given up their time to attend events, be trained as surveyors and given suggestions on places to be included, making a fantastic contribution.

“We hope that other local organisations and councils across the south west will follow in the city’s footsteps to ensure everyone has the information needed to make informed, confident choices about the places they would like to visit.”

Laura Welti, Bristol Disability Equality Forum Manager, said: "I was delighted when DisabledGo first approached me about getting funding for a Bristol access guide.  Bristol is a great city, but access can be challenging and being able to quickly go online to see if a venue is accessible is going to improve inclusion across the city.   What I particularly like about the guide is that it contains information which will enable people to decide whether the venue is suitable for them.

“All we need now is for more businesses and venues to realise increasing accessibility actually makes very good business sense – once that happens more and more organisations will want to be added to the guide.”  

Bristol Physical Access Chain (BPAC) is a voluntary group of disabled people who work in partnership with the council to influence accessibility of buildings and public space in the city. 

Janet Scammell MBE, BPAC and a member of the board for this project, said: “We believe that planning any journey relies upon good access information and we are, therefore, delighted the council has invested in this project enabling wider choice and independence. We are hopeful too that will lead to significant access improvements in the city and BPAC is able to work with organisations and businesses in an advisory capacity to achieve this.”

The guide can be accessed free of charge via http://www.disabledgo.com/organisations/bristol-city-council/main and it will also be featured on www.bristol.gov.uk and www.visitbristol.co.uk.

Notes to Editor:
• DisabledGo already produces guides to many other towns and cities. The organisation, which was founded by wheelchair user Dr Gregory Burke, has been working to provide better information about access since 2000.
• For more information about DisabledGo please contact Hannah Morris on 01438 842710 / 07730 358085 or via hannah.morris@disabledgo.com