Workshops and sensory mapping identify access improvements

Working in partnership with South Hams District Council's Coast and Countryside service the Sensory Trust ran workshops with a rich mix of disability and Countryside access and management stakeholder groups to explore access improvements to the rich and varied landscape of this corner of south Devon.

Coastal managers use sensory mapping to review their sites

Addressing access issues

Over thirty people gathered at the South Dartmoor Centre in Ivybridge to engage in a day of discussion and presentation. The workshops were designed to bring different groups together to address a common goal - how to improve accessibility of the coasts and countryside of South Hampshire.

We structured the workshop to guide the groups through a journey where they would learn each other's perspectives and perhaps revisit some of the assumptions they arrived with. For example, community groups learnt more about the constraints the site managers were facing such as limited budgets, while site managers learnt more about the impacts to disabled people from not being able to access their local places. Feedback showed this was a particularly successful element of the workshop, promoting understanding between different interest groups.

The workshops threw up a range of thoughtful and innovative proposals. The key issue identifed from feedback was the need for accessible information; not just when people arrive at a site, but in particular before they visit so they can decide if it is accessible to them and what arrangements (if any) they would need to make beforehand. It was the overwhelming opinion of the workshop group that consultation with stakeholders and potential beneficiaries should be maintained at all stages of the project design and implementation process.

Getting out on site to try different review techniques

This event brought together some of the same participants as well as some new people. The aim was to get people outdoors to try some hands on techniques and also to gain a better understanding of how to overcome access barriers. Together with the South Hams District Council, we gathered people at one of their coastal sites, Strete Gate at the Slapton Ley nature reserve.

We used three techniques -

1. Sensory Mapping. Sensory mapping is a tool for greenspace managers to rate their site for sensory value and quality of experience.

2. Shared Perspectives: Small groups took on the perspective of another group of people. In this instance it was divided into people with a particular visual impairment, parents with small children in buggies, and wheelchair users.

3. Site checklist: Groups were givin a site review checklist which they filled in around the site. The categories ranged from journey and arrival to information provision, from comfort to access.

The groups reported back their findings, building an overall picture of what this particular site had to offer, and what was still needed to allow for better access.

"I found the Sensory mapping very thought provoking, and will be using it to value my site".
(Comment from participant)


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