Access plans are useful for identifying existing barriers to access along with ways of mitigating them. An access plan also identifies priorities for action. They are often developed as part of funding applications to organisations such as the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and we are pleased to say that to date all the project bids that we have produced access plans for have been successful in their funding applications.
The Sensory Trust's approach to developing access plans is to evaluate access in the widest sense; to look at the overall user experience and how that can be improved and enhanced to create an equality of experience for all visitors. This includes people who currently do not use the site: under-represented groups such as older people, disabled adults and children, people with learning disabilities or difficulties, young people and people with mental health problems. Accessible toilets and ramps alone won't improve the experience of a place; in order to create great places to live in and to visit there is a need to combine technical aspects of accessibility with an understanding of what makes a place worth visiting.
Our access plans also highlight the successful, or potentially successful elements of a site. Many access audits concentrate solely on the negative aspects of a place that require repairs or improvements; they tend to miss out on the opportunity to collect information on what is already great about the place and how this can be built upon.
Examples of our work
Client: Natural England
We were commissioned to review accessibility of Golitha Falls, a beautiful National Nature Reserve in Cornwall, with the aim of identifying barriers to access and potential ways of overcoming them. Our report was based on consultation with a range of disabled and older people and identified priorities for action which fed into a management plan for the site.
Client: Crich Tramway Museum
Sensory Trust undertook an access and visitor experience survey at the National Tramway Museum in Crich in Derbyshire. The focus was to find ways of improving accessibility throughout the site, and into the various Museum features, for disabled visitors.
Client: Sheffield City Council
Working for Sheffield City Council, Sensory Trust produced an Access Plan and Audience Development Plan for Weston Park, the first municipal park to be created in Sheffield, for their HLF bid to restore the physical layout of the park to its original 19th Century design. The project was awarded just over £2m by HLF in March 2006.
Client: Cornwall Council
Sensory Trust carried out a site evaluation to address access issues as part of the North Cornwall District Council's new management plan. They were keen to look at all aspects of access: physical, sensory, intellectual and social/cultural. We assessed the routes, user activities and features. Our report resulted soon after in a range of site improvements.