Sensory Trust Access Audit:
improving accessibility and engaging local communities at the National Tramway Museum, Crich, Derbyshire

Crich tramway museum

The National Tramway Museum is an exceptional collection of trams, including some of the earliest examples from around the world. The museum is part of Crich Tramway Village, which has an old-style sweetshop, cafe, tram depots and a working tram that visitors can ride on. We first worked with the museum in 2008, carrying out an access audit and community consultation. We returned in 2013 to undertake a new audit of the changes that had been made.

Aims of the audit

The key aims of the audit and community consultation were to:

  • Identify barriers preventing access for people with a range of disabilities, including site issues and access to information.
  • Ensure equality of experience by identifying opportunities to enhance the visitor experience for all visitors.
  • Consult with a variety of individuals and community groups to identify needs, challenges and opportunities.

Undertaking the audit

The audit involved site surveys across the whole site, including the indoor museum and exhibits, the outdoor areas of the village and the woodland areas. We consulted with people with different disabilities, and undertook some site work together to better understand the barriers impacting on visitors.

Sensory Trust staff undertaking site review work at Crich museum Visually impaired visitor helping us with a site review at Crich museum

The museum has a wheelchair-accessible tram which travels the length of the site, and it is a popular attraction for people with disabilities, so the work has been designed to build on what has already achieved by museum staff and volunteers.

We got a wealth of feedback from formal consultation sessions held on site and informal conversations with disabled visitors, carers and companions. We combined that with our knowledge of access and experience issues to create a report with a comprehensive list of recommendations for improvements to the museum. The suggestions covered a wide range of areas including organisational practice, wayfinding, information and interpretation, and physical access.

Audit findings

The topography of the site and its layout meant that the variety of access issues was as wide as the range of sensory experiences the site offered. The report suggested improvements to access and quality of experience in all areas of the museum. To make sense of the list of suggestions, we structured the detailed report around the three geographical areas. We also provided a summary of recommendations that could be filtered by priority, timescale or cost.

The report helped secure funding for improvements to the museum, including support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Tarmac strip provides wheelchair access across tram lines Ramped wheelchair access to entrance of old tram

Consultation

We consulted with disabled people and with organisations and schools that organise group visits to the museum. By talking to people that were familiar with a range of disabilities the consultation looked at a wide variety of needs and challenges, a wider range than would have been achieved had the groups consisted of individuals with specific issues. This approach to consultation is also a useful first step in developing relationships with local groups who are in a position to give ongoing feedback, something that is particularly important when a programme of access improvements is planned.

We would like to thank again the individuals we consulted with from the following groups and organisations:

  • Age Concern
  • Holbrook Centre for Autism
  • Atherton Park Community School
  • Belper Social Club for the Disabled
  • Holymoorside United Reform Church
  • South Nottingham College
  • Hearing Dogs for the Deaf
  • Seeing Aloud steering group

Interested in an access audit?

Sensory Trust undertakes access audits for heritage and contemporary venues. Read more about our access audit consultancy >>

Links

Outdoor access design factsheets - free guidance

Access Chain - a tool for reviewing access from the user's perspective

Access statements - samples for you to use

What is inclusive design? links and information

Accessible information design - why it matters and who it benefits

Our Pilchards, Pits and Postcards project is opening up access and understanding of heritage for people of all ages and abilities.