Improving access for blind and partially sighted people by Q719y1

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									Access for blind and partially sighted
people to outdoor heritage sites
Catherine Hillis, RNIB, November 2005
National Trust Fellowship 2005

Acknowledgements
Firstly, I would like to thank my mentor Heather Smith, Head of
Access for All, for her time and support throughout the project.

I would especially like to thank the blind and partially sighted auditors
who worked with me on this project for so freely giving their time,
expertise and honest feedback during our visits:

   Beverly Bell Hughes
   Wayne Chapman
   Chris Copeman
   Aidan Joynt
   Yvonne McCarthy
   Isabella Murdoch
   Jill Whitehead

I would also like to thank those at the sites I visited in Europe and the
National Trust property managers for their generosity with their time
and knowledge:

 Luc Barbier, Parc Naturel Régional des Caps et Marais d‟Opale,
  France
 Erik van Spek, Staatsbosbeheer, Texel, the Netherlands
 Emma Hegarty, Chirk Castle
 Simon Lee, Brownsea Island

And finally, a big thank you to my colleagues at RNIB for supporting
me whilst doing this project alongside my day job! Especially thanks
to my line manager Leen Petré for her support and useful European
contacts.


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Contents:
 Executive summary
 Chapter one: Introduction to the fellowship project
 Chapter two: Setting the scene: why improve access for blind and
  partially sighted people?
 Chapter three: The European comparators and National Trust
  properties
 Chapter four: Pre-visit information
 Chapter five: Getting to a site
 Chapter six: Getting around the site
 Chapter seven: Access to interpretative information at the site
 Chapter eight: Development process
 Chapter nine: Overall conclusions and recommendations
 Appendix one: Bibliography
 Appendix two: Facts about sight loss
 Appendix three: The legal framework
 Appendix four: Physical access at The Slufter
 Appendix five: Useful contacts




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Executive summary
1.    Why was this fellowship undertaken?

It may be assumed that blind and partially sighted people will have no
problems in accessing outdoor heritage sites. Indeed, outdoor
heritage sites can provide intrinsically multi-sensory experiences for
people with sight loss. However, there are many barriers that people
can face when visiting outdoor heritage sites including:

 A lack of accessible pre-visit information that a person can request
  before they visit a site.
 Lack of promotion of the site and its accessibility to blind and
  partially sighted people.
 Transport difficulties in getting to and from a site.
 Sites that are physically difficult for a blind or partially sighted
  person to navigate.
 Little or no accessible information on the physical layout of the
  site.
 Lack of understanding from staff as to how they can assist a blind
  or partially sighted visitor and a general lack of visual awareness.
 Few multi-sensory opportunities e.g. to touch, listen, to smell and
  to taste.
 Lack of interpretative information at the site in accessible formats.

In discussions with the National Trust at the start of the project, it was
felt that while issues around physical access to heritage sites have
been explored in other projects and documented in publications,
there was less research into the provision of interpretative information
at outdoor heritage sites. One aspect of a visit can never be
considered in isolation from the whole however, and so this report
attempts to follow a visitor‟s journey from deciding to visit a site to
returning home.

One of the great things about the fellowship has been the opportunity
for me to broaden my knowledge in an area I knew very little about.

2.    What was done during the fellowship?



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A number of sites were examined as they were considered by those
working in the sector to have exemplar services:

 Romelaëre and Wavrans sur L‟Aa, Parc Naturel Régional des
  Caps et Marais d‟Opale, France
 The Island of Texel, the Netherlands
 The Botanical Gardens, Utrecht
 Shorne Wood Country Park, Kent.

Two National Trust properties were selected for comparison and were
visited in order to discuss improving access at these sites:

 Brownsea Island, Dorset
 Chirk Castle, North Wales.

Each site was visited in the company of at least one blind or partially
sighted auditor.

3.    What were the findings of the fellowship?

Although few of the features at Caps et Marais d‟Opale and Texel
may be new to the Trust, what was very impressive was the way in
which they were executed so that the sites provide an inclusive
experience for all. There are some general principles that are useful
to reflect on:

 Whilst recognising that many blind and partially sighted people
  may visit the sites in the company of sighted friends, partners,
  family members or companions, both sites aimed to provide as
  independent a visit as possible. Both sites started from the
  principle that a blind or partially sighted visitor wanted to navigate
  the site and enjoy the experience autonomously. Although many
  of the auditors commented that they were unlikely to visit a site
  alone, each felt that being able to experience the site alongside
  sighted companions without relying on them for information and
  interpretation was key.

 Access at both sites was very much integrated into everything
  done at the sites; both had an inclusive approach; it was not a


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     case of there being a „route for blind people‟, a „wheelchair
     accessible route‟ or a special tour. Both sites developed routes
     around their sites for all, and incorporated features that would
     enable a visit for disabled people into these routes. This was also
     demonstrated in their publicity.

 Particularly at Texel, there was a commitment to providing
  information in many different formats, allowing the visitor to choose
  what was most useful and accessible to them.

 The development of the site at Romelaëre was very interesting in
  that disabled advisors were members of the technical committee
  overseeing the development of the project alongside the architect
  and surveyor rather than as part of a separate access group.

 Both sites use simple, creative solutions. None of the solutions
  implemented at Texel and Caps et Marais d‟Opale are particularly
  complicated but they have been designed to be usable as well as
  accessible.

 Both sites worked with other local providers to ensure that the
  whole visitor experience, including transport, accommodation and
  restaurants are accessible and promoted to all.

4.     What are the recommendations for the National Trust?

The following recommendations may not seem revolutionary and I am
aware that the Trust is working on some of these issues already.
However, implementing them will ensure better access for blind and
partially sighted people.

Ultimately, providing an accessible site is about customer service.
None of these recommendations for development will result in a
better service unless all staff and volunteers know what services are
available, how these services can be used and that the services are
up-to-date and in working order.




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4.1   Promoting the site: pre-visit information

 Individual sites could develop their own concise access guides to
  complement that offered in „Information for Visitors with
  Disabilities‟ and promoted to local groups.

 This information could be presented in an engaging radio style
  audio format perhaps in partnership with a local talking newspaper
  or college and would be a useful marketing as well as information
  tool.

 Send out pre-visit information to visitors via Articles for the Blind.

 Host open days at the site for local people to discuss services
  available, promote the site and promote opportunities such as
  working as a volunteer. Ensure that local disability groups are
  invited to such open days and offered transport.

4.2   Getting to the site

 Sites should liaise with local providers such as community
  transport services and other transport providers to establish
  whether a service could be run in partnership.

 Sites could consider contacting local volunteer bureaux or local
  societies of blind and partially sighted people to discuss the
  possibility of volunteer drivers.

 Some National Trust members who have access to a car might be
  interested in a National Trust buddying scheme, such as that run
  by Shape Ticketing Scheme or the RNIB Leisure Link project.

4.3   Getting around the site

 Properties should offer large, clear print maps and should work to
  provide details on paths including types of path, gradient and
  accessible features along route.




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 All staff and volunteers should receive visual awareness and
  guiding training to increase their confidence in offering assistance
  to blind and partially sighted visitors.

 Sites should consider how maps, which meet the needs of as
  many visitors as possible, can give all visitors an overview of the
  site and potential routes around.

 There may be places in some sites where tactile surfacing could
  be used in a way that is sympathetic to the environment, to enable
  blind and partially sighted people to be more independent.

4.4   Access to interpretative information

 Interpretative panels should be designed to be accessible to as
  many people as possible, both in terms of sensory and intellectual
  access.

 All staff and volunteers should receive description training in
  addition to visual awareness training to increase their confidence
  in offering assistance to blind and partially sighted visitors.

 Properties should ensure that information about a site, its history,
  development and on the natural environment through the seasons
  is provided in accessible formats and promoted in publicity
  material and at the site itself.

 Audio information can be developed for all, and can include
  description and way-finding information for blind and partially
  sighted visitors.

 Interesting sensory features should be promoted to all visitors in
  an accessible manner.

 Sites could consider where developing tactile models of landscape
  or natural features might be sympathetic to the surroundings and
  benefit all visitors.




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1     Introduction to the fellowship project
This chapter explains the purpose of the travel fellowship and outlines
the research undertaken.

1.1 Aim of the project

The aim of this travel fellowship has been to examine access for blind
and partially sighted people to outdoor heritage sites both in Europe
and the UK.

In discussions with the National Trust at the start of the project, it was
felt that, while issues around physical access to heritage sites have
been explored in other projects and documented in publications,
there was less research into the provision of interpretative information
at outdoor heritage sites.

Therefore, it was decided that this project should specifically focus on
interpretative methods used in the different sites visited rather than
solely focusing on physical access. The project therefore examined
how information panels, multi-sensory, audio and tactile interpretation
can best be developed to provide an accessible, enjoyable and rich
learning experience for visitors with sight problems.

One aspect of a visit can never be considered in isolation from the
whole however, and so this report attempts to follow the visitor
journey from deciding to visit a site to journeying home.

1.2 Methodology

The first stage of the project was consultation to find out about best
practice in the field. I consulted with the National Trust to get an
overall picture of access for blind and partially sighted people at their
properties, and areas that might be developed. I contacted
practitioners in the UK to ascertain both their understanding of best
practice in this area in the UK and their knowledge of best practice in
Europe. I then contacted practitioners in Europe and organisations of
blind and partially sighted people in order to identify outdoor sites with
exemplar services.


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From this consultation, my fellowship mentor Heather Smith and I
selected two main sites in Europe. These were selected as they
were consistently cited as examples of best practice by both
organisations in the UK and Europe. The two sites were:

 Romelaëre and Wavrans sur L‟Aa, Parc Naturel Régional des
  Caps et Marais d‟Opale, France
 The Island of Texel, the Netherlands.

In addition another two sites were visited. The Botanical Gardens, in
Utrecht, were visited due to feedback from the organisation for blind
and partially sighted people in the Netherlands and as an example of
a garden site. Shorne Wood Country Park in Kent was visited
following feedback from Luc Barbier in France.

Two National Trust properties were selected for comparison and were
visited in order to discuss improving access at these sites:

 Brownsea Island, Dorset
 Chirk Castle, North Wales

These National Trust properties were selected due to their interest in
the project and this area of work and due to the fact that they both
have similar features to the European sites visited. Both were also at
a stage where they were considering how they could improve
services for blind and partially sighted people.

At each site the following issues were examined:

 access policies and plans and budgets for access
 involvement of end-users in developing and evaluating services
  and policies
 opportunities to touch and handle objects/artefacts/models, to
  listen to sounds and other forms of multi-sensory interpretation
 interpretative information and provision of accessible information
  (e.g. braille, large print, audio and electronic information)
 provision of audio tours



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 staff and volunteer training and provision of assistance to visitors
  with sight problems
 promotion to and use of services by blind and partially sighted
  people.

Involving users in assessing and developing services is, I believe,
essential in ensuring that services are usable, useful and accessible.
Therefore, I visited each site in the company of at least one blind or
partially sighted person with whom I was able to discuss services and
how they might be improved. I have been very lucky in being able to
work with the auditors who agreed to be part of this project. Their
input to the project and report has been invaluable.

The statistics given in the next chapter show the comparatively low
number of people who read braille. I do not read braille, however, and
so decided to visit each site with someone who did so that where
braille was used, we could make sure that it was accessible and
useful.

I was keen that the auditors I visited Europe with should be UK-based
in order that we could discuss the European sites in comparison to
those in the UK. I was therefore particularly fortunate to be able to
work with two bi-lingual auditors. Wayne Chapman, with whom I
visited the sites in France is fluent in French and has lived in the
country in the past. Yvonne McCarthy, who accompanied me to the
Netherlands, is Afrikaans and understands both spoken and braille
Dutch.

1.3 What work is the Trust doing in this area at the
    moment?

The Trust has a dedicated member of staff to advise all properties
about access for disabled people.

The Trust has a strategic approach to making access improvements.
A formal programme of Access Audits for properties has been
established. The audits assess the types of access improvements it
may be considered reasonable to make and provide a list of
recommendations, which properties add into their Property


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Management Plans. A comprehensive disability awareness training
programme has just been rolled out across the Trust to increase staff
and volunteer knowledge and confidence when making these access
improvements and welcoming disabled people to properties as
visitors, employees or volunteers. This training is on-going and now
forms part of property „start-of-season‟ induction days and the Trust‟s
customer care programme, „Focus on Customers‟.

Countryside properties present their own particular access issues and
the Trust is working with partner organisations to move forward in
making improvements that are sympathetic to the landscape. The
Trust‟s access specialist is a member of the Countryside for All
group, which has been set up to discuss approaches and provides a
forum for heritage organisations and disability organisations to
discuss access issues. The Countryside Agency is represented on
this group, along with other countryside and recreation organisations
and disability organisations including the Disability Rights
Commission and RNIB.

A training programme focusing particularly on access and the
countryside will be rolled out to Trust staff and volunteers during
2006. This will build on the disability awareness training already
offered but also look at bringing in other aspects of the Trust‟s work,
including interpretation.

A recent garden interpretation project has been developed with the
Sensory Trust and focus groups of disabled people. This project has
produced ideas for improving the style of maps used at Trust
properties and a seasonal trail template, which properties can use to
tell the story of their gardens at different times of the year, indicating
the main sensory points of interest.

The Trust is also developing guidelines for working with access
groups to increase the amount of consultation work properties
undertake. Other major projects involve producing standards for
virtual tours and continuing to ensure access for all is integrated
across all Trust projects and policies.




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1.4 What other research and guidance exists in the
    sector?

This year has been particularly productive for research into access for
disabled people to the countryside.

As a result of the Rural White Paper, the Countryside Agency has
conducted a Diversity Review, in consultation with many other
organisations including the National Trust. Entitled „What about Us?‟,
two summaries of research into why certain groups are under-
represented in visits to countryside sites have been produced. The
full Diversity Plan for Department for Environment, Food and Rural
Affairs (Defra) will be published next year.

In August, the Association of Inland Navigation Authorities produced
„Making More of Our Waterways‟, which focuses on working with the
local community to promote the use of the inland waterways.

The Countryside Agency and the Environment Agency have both
published revised guidance papers this year. The revised version of
„By All Reasonable Means‟ was published by the Countryside Agency
in October. The Sensory Trust, an independent charity that promotes
and implements inclusive design of outdoor space, was contracted to
produce this guidance.

English Heritage and Heritage Lottery Fund have also published
„Easy Access to Historic Landscapes‟, a sister publication to „Easy
Access to Historic Buildings‟. This guidance was also worked on by
the Sensory Trust and was published in October. The publication
provides guidance and advice about increasing access, including
examples of good practice from around the UK. The National Trust
contributed to this guidance, as did several other heritage
organisations and disability groups.

At the time of writing, Countryside Council for Wales is undertaking
consultation on improving access to National Nature Reserves. A
bibliography of relevant publications is given at Appendix One and a
list of useful contacts is given at Appendix Five.



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1.5 A note on the report

One of the fantastic things about the travel fellowship has been the
opportunity for me to broaden my knowledge in an area I knew very
little about. Although I have researched access for blind and partially
sighted people to indoor heritage sites, art galleries and museums, I
knew very little at the start of the project about access to countryside
and outdoor heritage. I have been on a very exciting learning curve.
However, this does mean that this report documents a learning
journey and by no means represents definitive answers to all the
problems presented.

This report should be read alongside recent guidance in the sector,
particularly „Easy Access to Historic Landscapes‟ and „By All
Reasonable Means‟. Where appropriate, I have referenced these
documents.

1.6 How the report is structured

This report is structured to reflect the visitor‟s experience at an
outdoor heritage site and compares the experience at the European
and National Trust sites. Each section ends with a series of short
recommendations for the National Trust. The report is structured in
this way in order to examine each key issue that could prove to be a
barrier for a blind or partially sighted visitor. Best practice is
highlighted in each chapter from the comparator sites that provide
services of particular note in each area.

     Chapter two sets the scene by posing the question - why
    improve access for blind and partially sighted people? This
    chapter outlines some of the problems visitors with sight loss may
    experience at an outdoor heritage site.

      Chapter three gives background information on the European
    sites and National Trust properties chosen for the study.

     Chapter four then begins the journey of the visitor to an
    outdoor heritage site by examining how a visitor will learn about



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    the services available at an outdoor heritage site and what
    information they will have to decide if they want to visit a site.

     Chapter five then considers how a visitor will get to a site.

      Chapter six examines how a visitor gets around a site,
    particularly looking at the information given to them on the layout
    of a site and other orientation clues.

     Chapter seven looks at the range of interpretive information
    and multi-sensory opportunities available at a site.

     Chapter eight examines how access has been developed at
    each site in terms of consultation, management and process to
    see if there are lessons that can be learnt for the Trust.

      Chapter nine then examines what overall lessons the Trust can
    learn from the European comparators and specifically what
    changes could be implemented at National Trust sites to improve
    access for blind and partially sighted people.

During the site visits to both European and UK sites, I took digital
photographs of the auditors using facilities that highlighted good and
bad practice. I have included some of these photographs to illustrate
examples of both.

However, this report must also be accessible to those who cannot
see the images or cannot see them well. So for each image, I have
added a few sentences of description, as should be done for images
on a website, which attempt to explain both what is happening in the
photograph and the point being made visually by the image.

Image one: The role of the auditors was essential to this project.
This image shows two of the auditors who worked on the
project, Jill Whitehead and Aidan Joynt, walking around the easy
access path at Shorne Wood as part of the site visit to Kent. Jill
is guiding Aidan along the path.




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2        Why improve access for blind and
         partially sighted people?
This chapter describes the barriers that blind and partially sighted
visitors can face when visiting outdoor heritage sites.

2.1 Who are the Trust’s blind and partially sighted
    visitors?

Around two million people in the UK have uncorrectable sight loss.
Uncorrectable sight loss means that even with glasses or lenses, a
person cannot read standard newspaper print, or visually recognise
someone across the road. Sight loss is one of the commonest causes
of disability in the UK and, more than any other disability, is
associated with old age.

     Most registered blind and partially sighted people have some
      useful vision; only four per cent of blind and partially sighted
      people have no useful vision (see Appendix Two for definitions).
     80 per cent of people with sight loss are aged over 601.
     Not everyone carries an external symbol that indicates their sight
      loss. There are approximately 5,000 guide dog owners in the UK
      and approximately 170,000 people who use a white cane.
     75 per cent of partially sighted people can read large print.
     36 per cent of blind people can read large print.
     There are around 20,000 fluent braille readers in the UK. Many
      more people may be able to use braille labelling and signage.
     75 per cent of blind and partially sighted people of working age
      are unemployed.
     60 per cent of people with a sight problem have another serious
      illness or disability such as arthritis or a hearing impairment. Many
      have more than one other disability.
     About 23,000 people in the UK have a severe loss of both sight
      and hearing; about 200,000 have less serious dual sensory loss.



1
    Statistics from "Blind & Partially Sighted Adults in Britain", Bruce et al, RNIB, 91

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Every blind or partially sighted visitor is different and will have
different motivations for visiting a National Trust property. A visitor
with sight loss may be there for a day out with their children or
grandchildren, or may have a PhD in botany or eighteenth century
history and be visiting for research purposes. Blind and partially
sighted people should be defined by their interests rather than by
their sight loss. The aim is to make all services, information and
experiences accessible so that a blind or partially sighted visitor has
the same choices as any other visitor.

Meeting the needs of blind and partially sighted people often results
in providing better access for all visitors. For example by providing
clear, accessible information, you are improving access for everyone.
This is particularly the case for people for whom English is not their
first language (including British Sign Language users), people who
are dyslexic, have literacy problems or who have learning difficulties.

The majority of people with sight problems are older people. Many
people who lose sight gradually later in life may not perceive
themselves as being blind or partially sighted. Making all services,
buildings and information accessible to people with sight loss often
means that you are improving access for those who would not think
to ask for services for blind and partially sighted people. More
information on sight loss is given at Appendix Two.

2.2 The issue: what are the barriers at outdoor heritage
     sites?

It may be assumed that blind and partially sighted people will have no
problems in accessing outdoor heritage sites. Indeed, many outdoor
heritage sites provide intrinsically multi-sensory experiences for
people with sight loss.

However, there are many barriers that people can face. I asked the
blind and partially sighted auditors that I worked with on the project
about their experiences in visiting outdoor heritage sites. The
following quotes illustrate some of the barriers and frustrations that
people can face:



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   “As a keen birdwatcher I love to get out and about but I often find
    that there is no information on bird or plantlife in a format I can
    access. Maybe people presume I‟m not interested.”
   “Usually there is very little information that I can access at country
    parks. Often there is no information at all. You have to have
    somebody with you to get information you need and even to find
    out if you want to visit a place. It can put you off going.”
   “Although I probably wouldn‟t visit an outdoor site on my own I
    would like to have information to be as independent as possible
    and not rely on the people I am with. If we are visiting somewhere
    as a family I want to have the same information as my husband
    and daughter but also have extra descriptive information so I
    know what they are looking at. I want to be able to tell my
    daughter about the place we are in even if I can‟t see it.”
   “Normally the information I get gives me some sort of picture of
    where I am but never gives me everything I want to know; there is
    often very little description.”
    “I can sometimes find it very difficult to orientate myself in large
    spaces that don‟t have any reference points. I need some useful
    pointers like clear landmarks and different surfaces.”
   “By their very nature, many National Trust properties are in the
    countryside and have no public transport within walking distance.
    That can make the visit more of a hassle than a pleasure. And
    there are plenty of non-disabled people who are reliant on public
    transport as well. There can be the assumption that if you are a
    disabled person you will have someone with you; that‟s very old-
    fashioned.”
   “Often steps outdoors aren‟t marked or highlighted in any way.
    That‟s important for a lot of people, not just visually impaired
    people. Good signs are important as well, especially on the toilets.
    Why are the „ladies‟ and „gentlemen‟ signs always so small!”
   “I think access at National Trust properties is often only as good
    as the guides at the place. It‟s so important that members of staff
    and volunteers are aware.”
   “I know there are often braille guides but I wonder how much they
    are used. A friend of mine told me he often doesn‟t like to carry
    the braille around. There should be more audio. Large print is
    useful as well. I know a lot of people who have lost sight and
    don‟t like to admit it so large print is good for them.”


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Therefore, common barriers to access at outdoor heritage sites
include:

1.   A lack of accessible pre-visit information that a person can
     request before they visit a site (covered in chapter four).
2.   Lack of promotion of the site and its accessibility to blind and
     partially sighted people, in the form of promotional information in
     accessible formats and direct contact with blind and partially
     sighted people (covered in chapter four).
3.   Transport difficulties in getting to and from a site (covered in
     chapter five).
4.   Sites that are physically difficult for a blind or partially sighted
     person to navigate (covered in chapter six).
5.   Little or no accessible information on the physical layout of the
     site or property (covered in chapter six).
6.   Lack of understanding from staff and volunteers as to how they
     can assist a blind or partially sighted visitor and a general lack of
     visual awareness (covered in chapter seven)
7.   Few multi-sensory opportunities e.g. to touch, listen, to smell and
     to taste (covered in chapter seven).
8.   Lack of interpretative information at the site or property in
     accessible formats (covered in chapter seven).

2.3 The legal framework

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) makes it unlawful to
discriminate against disabled people. It requires service providers to
change the way in which they deliver services to ensure that they are
accessible to disabled people. What will be considered „reasonable‟
in terms of adjustments under the DDA depends on a number of
factors, such as human and financial resources.

Whatever the circumstances of an organisation or particular property,
it is extremely unlikely that there is not something that could be done
to make the service more accessible. Importantly, what is considered
reasonable will adjust over time as technology develops and
becomes cheaper and as research into improving access for disabled
people develops. Access is therefore never „finished‟; facilities and
services should be continually evaluated and reviewed. More
information on the legal framework is given at Appendix three.

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3.   European case studies and National
     Trust properties
This chapter provides an introduction to each of the European case
studies and the National Trust properties involved in this project.


3.1 Case study one: Parc Naturel Régional des Caps et
     Marais d’Opale

Parc Naturel Régional des Caps et Marais d‟Opale is situated in the
North East of France. The regional park authority covers the area
stretching from Calais in the North, to Boulogne in the West to Saint
Omer in the East. The proximity of Belgium, the Netherlands, the
Paris area and the UK, all connected by excellent transport links
mean that the area is an important tourism hub.

The Parc Naturel Régional is located in the government regions of
Pas-de-Calais and the Nord-Pas-de-Calais and constitutes one of the
principal areas of biodiversity in France. Parc Naturel Régional des
Caps et Marais d‟Opale is renowned in France for its commitment to
improving access for disabled people. The Parc has won awards for
access and has a strong track record of developing services with
users.

The particular sites examined as a case study for this fellowship were
two sites in the Audomarois marsh area around St Omer, La Grange
Nature at Romelaëre and Wavrans sur L‟Aa.

La Grange Nature (The Nature Barn) is open to the public between
May and September and is open all the year to pre-arranged groups.
In 1999, Romelaëre was re-opened after extensive re-development
with the aim of being accessible to all. It has since become renowned
throughout France and across Europe for its accessibility.
The site has an extensive walkway over the ponds and marshes of
Romelaëre. This walkway takes a visitor over two kilometres of the
natural reserve to a bird and wildlife observation hut. Throughout the


                                                                      19
walkway there are information stations with information in print, braille
and tactile images that provide information on the landscape, the
fauna and the flora of the marsh.

Wavrans sur L‟Aa is a small village about 20 kilometres south-west of
St Omer. Close to the village is the site managed by the regional
park authority, which has an accessible path that runs alongside the
river L‟Aa to the village of Elnes.

I visited the two sites in the Audomarois region with my colleague
Wayne Chapman in July 2005. Wayne is a keen birdwatcher and
often visits outdoor heritage sites in the UK. Wayne and I were
accompanied on our visits by Luc Barbier who has been responsible
for developing the accessible features at the two sites.


3.2 Case study two: - Het Aloo Nature Path and De
     Slufter, the Island of Texel, the Netherlands

„Whatever you make, make it for all, or at least don‟t create man
made obstacles. Remove existing man made obstacles if
reasonable.‟, Texel management plan

The island Texel covers 16,100 hectares and lies off the north coast
of the Netherlands. It is home to some 13,700 residents and receives
five million tourist overnight stays a year. The island is reached by a
15 minute ferry journey from the town of Den Helder, which is about
an hour north of Amsterdam by train. Texel is one of the eighteen
National Parks in the Netherlands and is managed by
Staatsbosbeheer, the National Forest Management Service.
Texel has a long history of working to make the countryside
accessible to disabled people. Over the last thirty years, a range of
different services and facilities have been developed to enable
disabled people to get to the island, to stay on the island and enjoy
the nature in the country park.

Yvonne McCarthy and I visited the Island of Texel in September in
the company of Erik van Spek. Erik is a park ranger employed by
Staatsbosbeheer. Erik has led on the access initiatives and is widely
regarded to be one of the experts in the Netherlands on access to

                                                                      20
natural sites. We visited both the Alloo Nature Park on the west coast
of the island and the flood plain, the Slufter.


3.3 Other sites visited

3.3.1 Botanical Gardens, Utrecht

Two other outdoor sites were recommended during the course of the
research. Whilst in the Netherlands, Yvonne and I travelled to
Utrecht and visited the Botanical Gardens attached to the University
of Utrecht.

With a total area of 42 hectares and founded in 1630, the Botanical
Gardens are the largest and oldest in the Netherlands. The Gardens
have worked in partnership with the Netherlands Federation for the
Blind and Visually Impaired to improve access for people with sight
loss.

3.3.2 Shorne Wood Country Park, Kent

I also visited Shorne Wood Country Park, managed by Kent County
Council, after a recommendation from Luc Barbier in France. I visited
the park in September with Aidan Joynt and Jill Whitehead. Covering
some 288 acres of ancient woodland, the park is in an Area of
Outstanding Natural Beauty and is designated a Site of Special
Scientific Interest for its wildlife value.

Kent County Council has developed a range of facilities for disabled
visitors in consultation with various agencies including Kent
Association for the Blind. These facilities include an easy access
trail, which is featured in their Walks For All Pack, sensory gardens,
electro-scooters and audio guide tapes.




                                                                     21
3.4 National Trust property one: Brownsea Island

Brownsea Island is the largest of the islands situated in Poole
Harbour and is around one and a half miles in length. During its
varied history, Brownsea has been used as a coastguard station,
Edwardian country estate, and as a decoy to protect Poole in the
Second World War. The Island is home to important populations of
red squirrel and seabirds, and has a varied landscape of woodland,
heather, a lagoon, marshes and dramatic cliffs and beaches.

The Island was purchased by the Trust in 1962. The island is open
from March to October and now receives around 100,000 visitors a
year. It is reached by ferry, which takes 5 minutes from Sandbanks
and around 20 minutes from Poole Harbour. It can also be reached
by ferry from Swanage and Bournemouth.

The current property manager, Simon Lee, took over management of
Brownsea Island in the last year. A number of services for blind and
partially sighted people are currently in use on the Island, developed
by the previous property manager. These include braille and large
print versions of an island walk and braille, large print and audio
versions of a general welcome leaflet that were produced in 1998.
The audio information is out of date and so has been removed from
public use. There is a commitment at Brownsea to explore ways of
improving access for blind and partially sighted people

Isabella Murdoch and I visited Brownsea Island in September and
met with Simon Lee.


3.5 National Trust property two: Chirk Castle

Chirk Castle lies just outside the village of Chirk, close to Wrexham in
North Wales. Completed in 1310, the castle was built by one of
Edward I‟s warlords, Roger Mortimer. Although the exterior is rather
grim, the interior has been occupied for 700 years and displays many
different styles.




                                                                     22
The castle, its formal gardens and extensive grounds are open to the
public from April to October, Wednesday to Sunday and Bank Holiday
Mondays. Chirk Caste and Gardens receives around 100,000 visitors
a year.

The current provision for blind and partially sighted people is in the
form of a braille guide to the castle which gives some background
information on the castle but not on the contents of the rooms, and a
touch list of artefacts in the castle that can be touched.

Although consultation has been undertaken with disabled people, in
the last two years there has been no specific consultation with blind
and partially sighted people about the services on offer at Chirk.

The property manager Emma Hegarty is very keen to improve
services for blind and partially sighted people. A woodland walk has
recently been developed and Emma is keen that as many people as
possible are able to access this walk.

I visited Emma Hegarty in early September to discuss the project.
Bev Bell Hughes, Chris Copeman and I then visited again later in
September to assess current provision and ways in which access
could be improved. Although we visited the castle itself and
discussed access to the building and collections, we primarily
focused on access to the grounds and particularly the woodland walk.

Image two: Bev, Chris and Chris’s colleague from a local Talking
Newspaper, Elizabeth discuss improvements that could be made
in the formal gardens at Chirk




                                                                    23
4. The visitor experience: pre-visit
   information and publicity
This chapter examines the importance of pre-visit information and
cites examples of best practice that are relevant to the Trust and its
properties.

4.1 Why is pre-visit information important?

The information that a visitor receives before they visit a site can
have a huge impact on their decision to visit and on the quality of
their visit. This is particularly the case for disabled people who may
experience barriers to access at sites they visit and will therefore
want to know about services and facilities in advance of a visit.
Providing accurate and comprehensive information on the
accessibility of a site enables a disabled person to make an informed
decision as to whether to visit a site or not as well as finding out what
services they can access when they are there.

Quote from auditor: “First off you have to have heard of the site in
the first place; often sites don‟t seem to market themselves very well
to visually impaired people.”

As well as providing essential information on accessibility, pre-visit
information is also a valuable marketing tool to help venues promote
their services to disabled visitors and to demonstrate their
commitment to access.

Quote from auditor: “Information has to be useful for when you are
there. Although I read braille I probably wouldn‟t want to read large
amounts of braille on a visit, I‟d rather have the information in
advance and perhaps use audio information at the site.”

Blind and partially sighted visitors in particular may want to have
information about a site in advance of a visit. For people who use low
vision aids, prefer to access information digitally through their PC or
who do not want to carry round accessible formats that can be bulky,
having information in advance of a visit can be an essential way of

                                                                         24
finding out about the site. Indeed some organisations develop pre-
visit information packs specifically aimed at visitors with sight loss.
Such packs might include information in audio, braille and large print
on planning a visit, as well as information about the history of a site
and interpretative information, perhaps including descriptions of
important features and tactile images.

Pre-visit information needs to be provided in a format that blind and
partially sighted people can access. RNIB‟s See it Right guidelines
(an update of which will be published early 2006) give information on
producing accessible formats such as clear print (print produced to
guidelines that make it easier for everyone to read), large print, audio
and accessible digital information. The National Trust has its own
clear print guidelines. For more information see Appendix Four.

It is important as well not to regard information for blind and partially
sighted people as something separate from mainstream information.
Firstly, the more accessible general information is, the less an
organisation will need to provide alternative formats. Secondly, many
blind and partially sighted people get information from sighted family
and friends; an organisation should publicise services for blind and
partially sighted people in all publicity material.

Some examples of pre-visit information are listed below. Further
examples are given in „Easy Access to Historic Landscapes‟ (pages
33 to 36).

4.2 Pre-visit information at Texel

Visitors to Texel can access information about facilities in a variety of
ways in advance of a visit. Due to the partnerships between the VVV
(Vereniging voor Vremdelingenverkeer, the tourist information office)
the national park, Staatsbosbeheer, the ferry service and others,
comprehensive access information for the whole island has been
developed.

The interpretive information that visitors use around the nature path
at Het Alloo is also available for visitors to access in advance of a
visit via the internet. The information can be downloaded from the
Texel website in the hope that blind and partially sighted visitors will

                                                                       25
be able to access it in a format that they can read in advance of a
visit. Although Erik van Spek does not know how many people have
accessed this information, he sees it as an important way to give
people information in advance of a visit. The Texel website was not
fully audited as part of this project but guidance on developing
accessible websites is available from RNIB (see Appendix Four.)

Image three: The general information leaflet for Het Alloo
includes access symbols and photographs of wheelchair users
and blind and partially sighted visitors enjoying the path

In addition, the accessibility of Het Alloo nature path is promoted in
the general publicity and information for the route. Access symbols
are displayed on the front of the leaflet and images of disabled people
using the route are included in the general information. This
information is available in large print and braille.

Information on the type of paths around the national park is detailed
on all visitor information. Details such as types of surfaces are
marked on a map so that visitors can decide if they want to follow a
particular path in advance of a visit.

4.3 Pre-visit information at Botanical Gardens, Utrecht

The Botanical Gardens in Utrecht have information that they send out
to visitors in advance of a visit. This information, in braille and large
print, gives details on how to reach the Gardens using public
transport and describes the walk from the bus stop to the entrance of
the gardens that is also marked on the pavement. The information
also describes a route through the gardens.

4.4 Pre-visit information at Shorne Wood, Kent

Information on paths around Shorne Wood Country Park, and indeed
other sites managed by the County Council are given on information
sheets as part of the „Walks for All‟ series, available via the County
website and at the sites themselves.




                                                                      26
These maps, in clear print, give information on the walks that can be
taken around the parks and also give details on surfaces, types of
gradients and their actual measurements (e.g. uphill gradients 1:15,
cross slope 1:25 etc.), distances, accessible toilets and rest areas.
They also give information on the services available for disabled
visitors. Currently these maps are only available in clear print but
there are plans as part of future developments at Shorne Wood,
overseen by an access forum that meets quarterly, to update the
maps and look at the accessibility of information provided.

Image four (overleaf): Information on the easy access trail at
Shorne Wood Country Park (copyright Kent County Council)

4.5 What information does the National Trust currently
    provide?

Comprehensive information on access for disabled visitors is
available through an annual National Trust publication “Information
for Visitors with Disabilities” (which from 2006 will be known as
„Access Guide‟). This is a directory of properties that gives
information on access and is available in braille, large print and audio.

The publication gives important access information and also
highlights interesting sensory features at listed properties. Accessible
features are also highlighted on each property‟s section of the Trust
website. The website will be audited for accessibility and the Head of
Access for All is working closely with the web team.

4.6 Recommendations for the National Trust properties

Providing visitors with information about access facilities in advance
of a visit both promotes a site‟s welcoming attitude to disabled visitors
and enables visitors to make an informed choice as to whether and
how to visit.

Recommendations the National Trust should consider are:

 Individual sites developing their own concise access guides
  to complement that offered in „Information for Visitors with


                                                                      27
   Disabilities‟. These access guides could then be distributed by the
   property to local groups, services and individuals to help promote
   the property to disabled people. It was felt that this might
   encourage local people, who were not necessarily members of the
   National Trust, to visit their local property.

 Presenting information on properties in radio style audio
  format. Access information could also usefully be presented in
  audio, but rather than being a straight reading of visitor and
  access information, could be something more interesting and
  engaging. A radio programme style format could be recorded
  using the voices of members of staff, volunteers, local people and
  sounds recorded at the property (such as the peacocks at
  Brownsea Island). Such a recording could be developed perhaps
  with the help of a local Talking Newspaper or a local college, and
  would be a useful marketing as well as information tool. The
  National Trust‟s members‟ magazine is produced in this manner.

 Sending out access information from the property to local access
  groups and societies for blind and partially sighted people.

 Sending out pre-visit information to visitors via Articles for the
  Blind. Both National Trust properties visited had information in
  braille. Information in accessible formats such as braille, audio
  and now also large print can be sent free of charge via the Articles
  for the Blind service operated by Royal Mail. This service could be
  advertised to local people who might want to borrow information
  about a site in advance of a visit. Although this is a service offered
  in general by the Trust, it is not something that the individual sites
  we visited had done or had promoted to local groups.

 Hosting open days at the site for local people to discuss services
  available, promote the site and promote opportunities for working
  as a volunteer. Ensuring that local disability groups are invited to
  such open days, that accessible services are offered alongside
  accessible transport.




                                                                     28
5. The visitor experience: getting to the
   site
Getting to an outdoor site can be a huge barrier for a blind or partially
sighted visitor if the site is not easily reached by public transport.
This chapter details the approach taken at some of the sites and
makes recommendations.

5.1 The frustrations of getting to a site
Quote from auditor: “It can also be very difficult to get to places in
the countryside by public transport. You often have to get someone to
drive you or you need to pay for a taxi.”

Many blind and partially sighted people use public transport to get
around. Several of the auditors cited the problem of physically
getting to an outdoor heritage site as a deterrent. Whilst some
people with sight loss may choose to visit an outdoor heritage site in
the company of sighted family or friends, it is important to consider
those who either wish to visit independently or in the company of
family or friends who are also blind or partially sighted.

Whilst the National Trust is not responsible for public transport it is
important to consider what interventions could be made to make the
experience easier for those who use public transport to get to sites.
Both the Netherlands and France have examples of how the nature
sites led on improvements to the local tourist infrastructure in terms of
transport, accommodation and restaurants. Making National Trust
properties easier to access by pubic transport is also part of the
Trust‟s commitment to reducing the size of car parks, whilst ensuring
provision of parking for disabled visitors.


Getting to Texel

Texel is extremely easy to access by public transport. What is
especially impressive for a British visitor is the way in which each


                                                                       29
stage of the journey interconnects exactly on time – from train, to
bus, to ferry, and then to bus again.

The improvements for access for disabled people to the national park
have been seen as part of the whole visitor experience to the island.
Therefore, the Texel ferry company have been an important partner
in ensuring that disabled people can get to the island in the first
place. The ferry service has audible announcements and clear
signage as well as being accessible to wheelchair users.
Staatsbosbeheer have worked with the tourist information service
(VVV) to ensure that other tourist facilities and services are
accessible.

The partners have worked to ensure that there are a sufficient
number of taxis that are accessible to wheelchairs and that there is
accessible holiday accommodation. There are other facilities
accessible for disabled people on the island, for example, one of the
shrimping boats takes visitors to the island on fishing trips.
All of the facilities for disabled people are detailed in a booklet
produced by the VVV tourist information service.

Quote from auditor: It was so easy to reach Texel by public
transport, it was so different from my experience in the British
countryside.

Image five: The ferry port at Texel. The ferry boats are
accessible to wheelchair users and the port has a ramp up to the
boat as is shown in this image.


Getting to Shorne Wood

Shorne Wood is in a countryside location and although most visitors
drive to the site, it is accessible by public transport by a bus route
with stops at the three local train stations. Information on how to
reach the site by public transport was promoted on visitor information
including details such as bus numbers and frequency of service.




                                                                      30
Image six: Jill and Aidan at Meopham railway station on the way
to visit Shorne Wood. Information on the park gave details on
the nearest railway stations, bus services and taxi numbers


Getting to Brownsea Island

Although the town of Poole is well connected by public transport,
getting to Brownsea Island can be a barrier for some visitors. The
privately-run ferry boats which go to the island are not accessible to
wheelchair users and can only take those with mobility problems if
they can transfer onto the boat themselves. This situation is being
addressed and the Trust is assessing whether it might purchase an
accessible ferry to be used until the private companies themselves
have wheelchair accessible ferries.

The return ferry journey to Poole Harbour also gives an audio
commentary with some information on the island which could be
promoted to blind and partially sighted visitors. Although this
commentary is not particularly descriptive it does give lots of useful
information on the Harbour, its history and use in a way that is
accessible to most people with sight loss.

Quote from auditor: “The commentary on the boat round the islands
was great, although the man spoke quite quickly so I couldn‟t catch
everything he said”

Image seven: Isabella on the top deck of the ferry listening to the
commentary given on the harbour and its islands. Brownsea
Island can be seen in the background.


Getting to Chirk

Chirk Castle is situated in North Wales between Oswestry and
Wrexham. The Castle provides information on public transport to the
village of Chirk including the bus service between Wrexham and
Oswestry, and train services to Chirk. The train station is however,
as publicity material details, a quarter of a mile to gates and two miles
to castle. This means that a visitor who arrives by train may need to

                                                                         31
ensure that a taxi can meet them to take them from the station to the
castle. There is a minibus service that runs from the car park to the
castle as this is a rather steep walk.


Recommendations to National Trust

Unfortunately the National Trust cannot rely on the fantastic Dutch
transport system. However, working in partnership with community
transport services, local societies for blind and partially sighted
people and other local groups could help a property offer a solution.
Some approaches to consider could be:

 Liaising with community transport services and other transport
  providers to establish whether a service could be run in
  partnership.

 Contacting the local volunteer bureau or local societies of blind
  and partially sighted people to discuss the possibility of volunteer
  drivers.

 Some National Trust members who have access to a car might be
  interested in a buddying scheme for those with similar interests,
  such as that run by Shape Ticketing Scheme or the RNIB Leisure
  Link project.

„Easy Access to Historic Landscapes‟ also offers some suggestions
(page 37) of good practice in terms of enabling disabled people to get
to and from an outdoor site.




                                                                     32
6. The visitor experience: getting
   around the site
This chapter describes some of the innovative methods of way-
finding and orientation that have been developed in France and the
Netherlands

6.1    Introduction

It is perhaps in the area of way-finding around natural environments
that the sites in France and the Netherlands most differ from those of
the National Trust. Both Luc Barbier and Erik van Spek have worked
with the principle that a blind or partially sighted visitor may want to
navigate a site independently. Particularly at Romelaëre, much work
had been undertaken to realise this aim.

6.2    Orientation and way-finding at Romelaëre

Luc Barbier and his team started the process of developing the site
with the aim of being able to offer all visitors an equitable experience
at the site, and for all disabled people to be able to visit
independently. In terms of orientation for blind and partially sighted
people, Luc and his team were working towards the aim that a blind
visitor should be able to visit Romelaëre autonomously and be able to
orientate themselves round the site.

The orientation system starts in the car park at Romelaëre. A first
information point gives a tactile map of the site and explains how the
way-finding system works, as is described in image nine. The system
is quite simple. A visitor with sight loss who uses a long cane follows
a tapping rail along the right hand side of the path. A break in the
tapping rail indicates a potential hazard or point of interest.
Immediately at the break in the rail is an information post to the
immediate right of the visitor. This information post has a tactile
panel on top which gives information in braille and through a simple
tactile map to indicate the location of a hazard or information point.



                                                                      33
Image nine: Wayne at the first information point in the car park
at Romelaëre. This information point gives information on the
site and a tactile map of the site. From this point onwards a long
cane user can follow the tapping rail towards the site.

Image eight: Wayne and Luc following the path from the car park
to the Nature Barn. Wayne is using the tapping rail along the
right hand side of the path.

Using this system, a blind or partially sighed visitor follows the path
from the car park along a path into the Nature Barn itself.

The Nature Barn covers an area of marshland. A boardwalk around
the site has been constructed from untreated wood. Tapping rails are
given on both sides of the path to orientate a blind visitor, and again
the visitor follows the right hand path. Here, instead of using a break
in the rail to indicate an information post on the right hand side, tactile
bumps constructed from wood under foot indicate that an information
post is just to the right hand side (image eight).

Each information post again has a small tactile map on the top of the
post that indicates if there is a divide in the path or if there is an
information station nearby and its location (image nine).

This orientation system offers a blind visitor, particularly those who
use a long cane and read braille, an excellent way to move
independently around the site. Those who are guide dog owners, who
work their dog on the right, may miss the tactile bumps and certainly
the break in the tapping line, and those who cannot read braille may
not find the directional information as useful as those who do.
However, for those it is aimed at, this system provides the opportunity
to move independently and confidently around the site.

Quote from auditor: “For me as a long cane user and braille reader
Romelaëre was an amazing dream come true. Before my visit, I had
never known of any nature reserves where information about the
surrounding area was presented in such an accessible way both from
the point of view of navigation and quality of detail.




                                                                          34
I quickly realised that I needed to adapt my mobility technique to the
system at Romelaëre in order to follow the shoreline. At first when I
was walking along, and at the same time in conversation, I found
myself occasionally inclined to lose concentration and thus not pick
up the clues from under my feet or from my cane. Yet by the end of
the visit, once I had learnt the system and got used to it, I could be
completely independent. As there were no barriers to navigation or
access to knowledge about the area, I felt for the first time in my life
that a whole new window to accessibility to nature had been opened.”

Image nine: Tactile flooring in the form of raised wooden bumps
on the wood floor indicate that an information post is on the
right hand side of the visitor

Image ten: The information posts that are indicated by the tactile
flooring are always given on the right hand side of the visitor.
The small panel is placed alongside the handrail and tells the
visitor if there is a junction or an information station

Image eleven: Wayne is reading the tactile information post that
he located using the tactile flooring under foot.

Image twelve: The boardwalk around Romelaëre is accessible to
wheelchairs and wide enough to let two electric wheelchairs
pass. Where the boardwalk has to narrow due to the natural
environment, there are frequent passing points wide enough for
two electric wheelchair users to pass. There are also frequent
resting places.

Image thirteen: A family, one member of whom is a wheelchair
user, looking out at the marsh land from one of the viewing
points

6.3    Orientation and way-finding at Wavrans sur L’Aa

A similar but not identical orientation system was used at Wavrans
sur L‟Aa. Whilst the path again started with an accessible map, at
Wavrans sur L‟Aa, this was actually a tactile model of the site.
Although these models are aimed at being accessible to blind and
partially sighted people and include large print and braille labelling,

                                                                          35
they are obviously accessible to all and used by many. As they give
a „birds-eye‟ perspective of the whole site they allow all visitors to
gain an understanding of the natural environment, in an interactive
way.

Some tapping rails were used alongside the path at points that were
considered to be a potential danger to blind and partially sighted
visitors, but not the whole way as at Romelaëre. Hand rails are used
around the rest of the path.

Image fourteen: Wayne and Luc discuss the tactile model at
Wavrans sur L’Aa that is situated at the start of the path around
the site

6.4   Orientation and way-finding at Het Alloo Nature
      Path

Het Alloo Nature Path was opened in 2003. It has been made
accessible for wheelchair users and also for blind and partially
sighted people.

Image fifteen: Yvonne and Erik at the start of the Nature Path.
The start of the path is indicated by tactile paving and an
information post in large print and braille which gives
information to the visitor on the layout of the start of the path

The path is reasonably level throughout and is made from a mixture
of clay and broken shell. This material was selected as it is firm and
has a distinctive texture, colour and sound that is different from the
other surfaces alongside the path.
The Nature Path consists of two looped paths, one that covers 4.8 km
and a shorter walk. Information is made available to all visitors about
the rout of the path as well as about the natural environment it
passes.

Animals graze on the land that the path traverses and so at certain
points around the path visitors need to pass through gates. After
consultation, Erik and the team at Staatsbosbeheer decided to use
metal „kissing gates‟. It was decided that these gates when made


                                                                      36
from metal were relatively light and easy for people to open. They
could be made wide enough for a wheelchair user to comfortably
pass through and, when adapted with a large handle, would be easy
for all visitors to operate and for blind and partially sighted visitors to
locate.

Image sixteen: The ‘kissing gate’ at the start of the Nature Path.
The path to and through the gate is marked with tactile paving.

Image seventeen: The large handle on the top of the kissing gate
has received favourable feedback from wheelchair users and
blind and partially sighted visitors2.

At the beginning of the nature path there is an accessible map. This
map is tactile and well colour-contrasted and has information in large
print and braille. It explains to visitors the orientation system for the
path and the purpose of the information panels situated along it.

Image eighteen: Yvonne uses the accessible map at the start of
the Nature Path. This gives information on the route the path
takes through the surrounding natural environment.

The entire information panel is about one and a half metres across
and a metre tall. It is supported by two wooden posts and is almost
parallel to the ground, but sloped slightly higher – about 80 degrees
from the visitor reading the map. Yvonne found this to be a
comfortable angle for reading the map and braille information.
Image nineteen: Yvonne uses the braille key on the left-hand
side of the map. A large print key is given down the right-hand
side.



2
  It is worth noting that metal handles are not recommended for
people with sensitive hands. This is detailed in „The Building
Regulations 2000 Approved Document Part M; Access to and use of
buildings (England and Wales)‟, e.g. section 1.37f about handrails
and 2.17d about door handles. Greater detail is given in
„BS8300:2001 Design of buildings and their approaches to meet the
needs of disabled people – Code of practice.‟

                                                                         37
The nature path has a series of orientation and information posts
throughout that are indicated to blind and partially sighted visitors with
tactile paving. This paving lies to the right hand side of the path; this
system is explained to the visitor in the information given on the initial
information panel on map. Alongside the tactile paving is a short
guiding rail that will lead a visitor using a long cane to the information
post.

Image twenty: One of the information posts alongside the path.
The post has an area of tactile paving in front of it.

Each information post consists of a wooden post topped with a
sloping „roof‟ with large print information on one side and braille on
the other.

Image twenty-one: Large print information on one of the
information posts. The lettering is in yellow on a dark brown
background.

Image twenty-two: The braille information given on the panel is
on the side away from the path and is read from the bottom up
towards the visitor, like reading braille resting over your knee.

Image twenty-three: Yvonne standing on the tactile paving and
reading the braille information on one of the posts. Yvonne is
resting her wrists on the top of the slopping roof in order to read
the braille.

The information post gives details on orientation rather than on
interpretation of the nature environment. The posts indicate, for
example, a choice of two paths, e.g. when the shorter loop of the
walk splits from the longer loop or a hazard such as a road crossing
or bridle way crossing. There are 48 posts around the path due to
the fact that there are many paths and roads that cross the nature
path.

Image twenty-four: One of the potential obstacles indicated by
an information post. The post gives information on the gate up
ahead and how it is opened



                                                                         38
The nature path also has other accessible features. All benches
along the path have space for a wheelchair user to sit alongside the
bench and are indicated by tactile paving.

Image twenty-five: Yvonne standing by one of the benches
alongside the nature path. The bench is indicated to blind and
partially sighted visitors with tactile paving

In addition the picnic benches have space for wheelchair users. A
barbeque area has also been made accessible to wheelchair users. A
visitor centre, EcoMar, close to the Alloo site is also accessible to
wheelchair users, as is the café. What was very striking when
Yvonne and I visited the site was the number of wheelchair users at
the centre and using the café.

Quote from auditor: “The nature path was really well designed.
Although I have no vision I could walk around it without being guided
which was really liberating.”

Some very interesting work has been done at the Slufter to improve
access over sand dunes. This is more about physical access rather
than interpretation for blind and partially sighted people and so has
been included in Appendix Six.

6.5    A note on accessible maps

Although the examples of accessible maps given in this report are in
France and the Netherlands, there are obviously many examples in
the UK. At Rutland Water Park, for example, „maps for all‟ produced
by Sue King at RNIB have been installed. These maps give
information in large print, raised lettering, braille and using large clear
well colour contrasted symbols.

Image twenty-six: A map for all overlooking grassland and a lake
at Rutland Water Park




                                                                        39
6.6    Getting around Brownsea Island

Currently the orientation information offered to all visitors to
Brownsea Island is in the form of a print map. All visitors are given a
map of the island and volunteers often discuss routes and walks
round the island with visitors and mark them on this map. The map is
not currently available in large print or other formats although a
described walk is offered (see chapter seven).

Paths around Brownsea Island vary a lot in terms of gradient and
surface. There are some areas that are steep and others where the
path is quite loose. A programme to improve the surface of the
pathways around the ferry port has begun and will continue to
develop the new surface path.

Although there are currently no circular routes round the island that
do not contain some stretches with a steep gradient, the property
manager is interested in developing a route accessible to those with a
reduced level of mobility. Using an orientation system, such as that
at Texel, the accessible route could be linked to the interpretative
information developed at the island, such as an audio guide.

Brownsea could also develop a map similar to that at Shorne Wood
and Texel that give visitors information on gradients and surface
types around a route so that the visitor can make an informed choice
as to whether they wish to undertake that route.

Image twenty-seven: some areas of the island are large
expanses of grass or heathland, such as the church grass area
that Isabella is approaching from the main path.

In 2005, the Island started to run „trailer trails‟ around the island for
people with a reduced level of mobility and their companions. Tours
are operated twice daily on Tuesdays and Fridays and last about 1
hour 15 minutes. There are places for eight seated visitors and 4
wheelchair users. A volunteer gives a commentary on the route and
points out places of interest. This service has proved very popular
and may be extended in the future. The possibility of promoting this
service to blind and partially sighted visitors was discussed.


                                                                        40
Consultation with local blind and partially sighted people and with
someone experienced in describing to people with sight loss, perhaps
with a theatre or museum background, could give volunteers and staff
some pointers concerning descriptions that could be incorporated into
the tour. This would give blind and partially sighted visitors some
extra information on their surroundings.

Image twenty-eight: Isabella standing by the large tractor trailer
which can take up to eight visitors on a tour of the island.

6.7    Getting around Chirk

Again, information offered to all visitors to Chirk Castle is in the form
of a print map. This is a bi-lingual map and therefore with more print
to fit on the page is not very accessible for those with sight loss. The
possibility of producing large clear print maps separately in English
and Welsh was discussed.

In terms of moving around the outdoor areas at Chirk, Bev and Chris
found the paths around the formal gardens fairly easy to navigate;
often the paths were very distinct from bordering areas in colour,
texture and sometimes height.

Image twenty-nine: Bev walks along one of the paths in the
formal gardens followed by Chris who is being guided by
Elizabeth. The path at this point is bordered by lawns on both
sides.

The main problem was felt to be the lack of markings on the steps in
the gardens. Whilst it was recognised that it may be difficult for the
property to make any alterations to these historic steps, nevertheless,
it was felt that they were not very user-friendly for all visitors.

Image thirty: Chris walks down a set of unmarked steps in the
formal gardens using his long cane as Bev looks on.

The Woodland Walk at Chirk had been created this year with funding
from Council for Countryside in Wales. It is still in the development
phase and is not officially yet open. Although visitors over the
summer months have been encouraged to use the path, they were

                                                                       41
warned that it was not yet complete and were asked for their
feedback on the walk and what improvements they would like in the
future.

At the time of writing, a new path has been constructed through the
woodland. Bev, Chris and I spent some time at the woodland walk
discussing its accessibility. When we visited the walk, the main issue
was the steep slope downwards at the start. Whilst some people who
are wheelchair users have used this path, it may cause problems for
others. Working with the Trust‟s access specialist, the property may
find a way of regarding the access to this part of the path.

In order to improve access for blind and partially sighted people along
this section of the path, a handrail could be added at least to this part
of the route. As the woodland walk is not yet complete, there is no
mark at the start of the walk. The auditors felt that this signage needs
to be as accessible as possible and that a handrail could potentially
lead from the main road in order to guide people into the walk.

Image thirty-one: Bev stands at the start of the woodland walk,
looking down the slope into the woodland area.

Image thirty-two: Chris and Elizabeth walking back up the slope
at the beginning of the woodland path to the main road.

6.8    What orientation information does the National
       Trust currently provide?

Obviously approaches to providing orientation information vary
greatly between sites.

Whilst the sites visited did not provide maps in accessible formats,
other National Trust sites such as Nymans Gardens have maps
produced by the National Centre for Tactile Diagrams and described
walks. All sites have a “Welcome to…” leaflet. Offering large clear
print versions of this leaflet could be easily achieved.




                                                                      42
6.9     Recommendations for the Trust

The orientation systems at Romelaëre and Texel were designed to
give blind and partially sighted people as much independence as
possible.

Whilst these systems are particular to the sites at which they were
developed and certainly won‟t be suitable for all National Trust sites,
there is much the Trust could learn from these systems.

Most of the auditors said that they were likely to visit a property in the
company of sighted companions, friends or family although all were
keen to point out that they may also visit with other blind or partially
sighted companions. All wanted to have as much independence as
possible, even if they were with sighted companions.

Providing accessible information on the physical layout of a site and
giving people with sight loss some orientation clues enables people
the opportunity to be as independent as possible.

Some recommendations would be:

     to offer large, clear print maps at all sites.

     to provide maps and textual information which give details on
      the paths around an outdoor heritage site including types of
      path, gradient and accessible features along route.

     to provide visual awareness and guiding training to all staff
      and volunteers to increase their confidence in offering
      assistance to blind and partially sighted visitors.

     to examine how maps that meet the needs of as many
      visitors as possible can be incorporated into sites to give
      visitors an overview of the site and potential routes around.

     to consider points in a site where some form of tactile surfacing
      could be sympathetically used to enable blind and partially
      sighted visitors to be more independen


                                                                        43
7. The visitor experience: access to
   interpretative information on site
This chapter highlights examples of best practice in terms of
interpreting outdoor sites for blind and partially sighted visitors.

7.1 What forms of interpretation should be offered to
    blind and partially sighted people?

Outdoor heritage sites can be interpreted in many different ways that
are accessible to blind and partially sighted people. What works in
one site might not be appropriate in another and it is important for a
site to consider different approaches creatively.

Firstly, a site needs to consider how it will ensure that the information
it offers all visitors is accessible to blind and partially sighted people.
It is important, furthermore, to consider what extra description and
multi-sensory opportunities might further enhance a visit for a blind or
partially sighted visitor, particularly bearing in mind that all visitors will
enjoy and benefit from a diverse range of interactive interpretation.

A site might consider the following:

      Providing information in accessible formats such as clear
    print, large print, audio and braille.

      Providing additional descriptive information using the
    principles of picture and object description (see the RNIB Talking
    Images publication for more information.)

      Creating an audio guide for all visitors that includes extra
    descriptive or way-finding information for blind and partially
    sighted visitors.

      Incorporating points of sensory interest into all visitor
    information highlighting listening-points, places of tactile or
    scented interest.


                                                                           63
    Creating tactile information for all visitors through tactile
    models, images, sculpture or other touch points.

      Offering one-to-one guided tours or group tours that
    incorporate description and points of sensory interest.

The following chapter explains what interpretative information is
offered at the European and National Trust case studies and then
offers recommendations.

7.2 Interpretative information at the Aloo Nature Path

All visitors to Het Aloo Nature Path at Texel can access information
about the nature path and the natural environments it passes
through. At the start of the nature path there is a wooden box from
which visitors can take clear print information.

Image thirty-three: The wooden box attached to a post that
contains the clear print leaflets. The box has a plastic lid to
protect the leaflets in wet weather.

The same information is available in large-print, braille and on audio
CD at the visitor centre. The centre has CD-players that visitors can
borrow, or they can bring their own player. The information can also
be downloaded in advance from the Texel website as mentioned in
chapter four. As the size of font of the large print booklet does not
suit everyone, the information in now held in electronic format at the
reception desk of the visitor centre so that a visitor can request the
information to be printed in their preferred size of font. In this
manner, the information is as accessible to as many people as
possible.

The interpretative information is thus provided on the natural
environment, its landscape, wildlife, plant life and particular points of
interest along the path. Some of the orientation posts described in
chapter six are also used to tell the visitor which point of interest they
are at. The posts give a number in braille and large print to indicate
which text a visitor should listen to or read at that point. This means


                                                                        64
that a blind or partially sighted person can listen to or read the
appropriate part of the interpretative information without having to rely
on sighted assistance. This system gets round the problem that a lot
of indoor heritage sites have indicating to a blind or partially sighted
visitor what number they need to key into an audio guide or to read
from a guide book.

Image thirty-four: Information for the nature path is provided in
large print, audio, braille and electronically. Covers of the braille
and large print versions have a simple tactile map.

Quote from auditor: “The whole experience at Texel really made me
want to go back and visit again. The staff were so helpful. I can‟t
really see how they could have improved the nature trail. There was
lots of information in all different formats, they really seemed to be
aiming to make things accessible for all visitors.

The information posts were really useful and helpful but seemed to be
incorporated really well into the natural environment. I really liked
having the braille on the sloping panels; it was really comfortable to
read.”

7.3 Interpretative information at Romelaëre
The path around Romelaëre has a number of interpretative
information panels which give detail on the environment of
Romelaëre, its natural history, agricultural use, bird, plant and wildlife
at various points of interest around the site.

The information panels are for everyone, and combine print, braille
and tactile images. These images are designed to be accessed by
both sight and touch and therefore to be used by all.

The information panels are identified to blind and partially sighted
people by the tactile information posts described in chapter six. Some
information posts provide information about which sounds can be
heard in the natural environment at that particular point, for example
particular species of birds.



                                                                        65
Quote from auditor: “It's great to have so much information about
the bird and plantlife that I can read. I can find out lots of background
and discuss it with others - it gives me independence. The tactile
representations as well as the braille text also adds to the
experience.“

Image thirty-five: Wayne reading braille on an information post
and discussing the information with Luc. This particular panel
gives Information about the the cultivation of cauliflowers which
the area is renowned for.

Image thirty-six: One of the tactile information panel that
includes a tactile image of a swan

A few lessons were learnt during the development of the information
panels at Romelaëre that led to improved information panels at
Wavrans sur L‟Aa. The lettering on the panels at Romelaëre had
faded on some of the panels, particularly on those that were under
trees. A different method of production was used for the information
panels at Wavrans sur L‟Aa so that the white lettering would remain
more pronounced against the brass background and so would be
easier for people to read and would weather better outdoors. Based
on feedback from users, the tactile images were also simplified
slightly on these panels, and were raised more distinctly.

Image thirty-seven: one of the information panels at Wavrans
sur L’Aa, which has clearer print information

Image thirty-eight: Wayne using one of the tactile models of the
site. These give orientation information as well as explaining
about the physical nature of the site.

7.4 Access to interpretative information at Utrecht
    Botanical Gardens
The Botanical Gardens in Utrecht have information panels in large
print and braille that give information on the gardens. These are not
in all parts of the gardens, only the „thematic‟ section, which has
plants, grouped according to themes such as „scent and taste‟, „plants


                                                                       66
in religion and magic‟ and „medicinal plants‟. The panels use the
same principle as those at Texel, but Yvonne found them more
difficult due to their height and position.

Image thirty-nine: Yvonne stands on tiptoes and reaches over
the information panel in order to read the braille on the other
side of the panel

The gardens also used some tactile images to interpret works of art
that are placed within the gardens and also have a number of
touchable sculptures positioned within the gardens.

Quote from auditor: “I had some difficulty reading the braille in the
gardens because of the angle it was at and in some places dymo
tape had been used and this was peeling off. Also, I was
disappointed that the information was only in one area of the garden
and not all – I don‟t like somebody deciding what I will be interested
in. However, it was great to be able to touch the sculptures”

Image forty: Yvonne reads a tactile image of a piece of art work
that has been put in the garden as part of an exhibition

Image forty-one: Yvonne explores a wooden sculpture, one of a
series that line the path through the gardens.

7.5 Access to interpretative information at Shorne
    Wood
Current services and interpretation at Shorne Wood have been
developed in consultation with local groups, including the Kent
Association for the Blind. Several workshops were held with local
people to help develop the sensory garden and the incorporation of a
number of artworks within the garden. Local artists developed these
artworks in order to convey local people‟s sense of the place what it
meant to them.

An audio guide that described a route around the park had been
developed some years ago. When we visited the park however, it
was not available as it had been put away for the move to the new


                                                                     67
visitor centre. The disability forum working on future developments
have suggested that the audio guide be replaced by a series of audio
listening-posts that could be operated by turning a handle.

Interactive panels and labels were originally placed in the sensory
garden but unfortunately all these signs had been stolen over the
years (alongside an oak bench!) This highlights the serious issue of
vandalism that some outdoor sites suffer.

Shorne Wood is in the process of a new accessible and
environmentally friendly visitor centre in consultation with a disability
forum that meets quarterly. The new centre will provide information
facilities, an indoor and outdoor café, and environmental and
education resources.

Shorne Wood is one of the sites involved in Kent County Council‟s
action research project to improve access for disabled people. „By All
Means‟ is a three-year action research project run by the County
Council in partnership with a local information service for disabled
people. This project hopes to increase the number of disabled people
visiting Kent countryside through eight projects monitored and
evaluated by disabled people.

Image forty-two: Images of Aidan touching the two sculptures in
the sensory garden. The top picture is of Aidan touching a
stone sculpture. The bottom picture is of Aidan and the ‘Green
Man’ sculpture, the green man is said to represent the spirit of
the trees.

7.6 Access to interpretative information at
    Brownsea Island
Currently, when arriving at the island, all visitors to the island pass
through a reception area where they buy tickets or show their
membership cards.

The information in the reception area is not currently in accessible
formats and in general is not felt to be user-friendly for all visitors but
it is intended that this whole area will be altered as the interpretation


                                                                          68
here is not currently accessed by many visitors at all. The
interpretation information displayed here is likely to be moved to
another visitor centre, which would provide an opportunity to
reconsider the accessibility of its design and content.

All visitors receive the „Welcome to Brownsea Island‟ leaflet. Visitors
can purchase a guide book and a book on the natural history of the
island. Currently the text information from the guide book and nature
book is not available in other formats.

Blind and partially sighted people can take information on a
suggested walk around the island in either braille or large print.
Isabella and I found this route quite difficult to follow. Direct
translation of printed text into braille can work well but when
describing maps, a reference to numbers on the printed map within
the braille can make the information difficult to follow. An alternative
description should be discussed with blind and partially sighted
people or a tactile map should be produced to accompany the braille
information.

There is also an „audio guide‟ which is in fact a direct reading of the
general visitor information and beginning with the address of the
island and following straight through the print leaflet. This information
has not been updated since 1998 and so has been removed from
public use. Isabella and I agreed that having general visitor
information in tape format could be very useful to have but should be
sent out in advance as pre-visit information. As mentioned earlier,
this information could also be presented in a more engaging radio
format as pre-visit information.
Isabella and I discussed with Simon the possibility of providing more
interpretative audio information on the island, it history and wildlife for
all visitors. Although visitors will want to be able to listen to the
natural environment, there could also be certain listening points
where visitors, not only blind and partially sighted visitors might like to
listen to more information about the island.

Quote from auditor: “Brownsea Island is an idyllic haven; I loved it.
I‟d like to find out more about the island – its history, the wildlife and
the birds. I would say the current audio information could be sent out
as pre-visit information to listen to in the home. It would help you

                                                                        69
decide whether you would want to visit or not. The braille guide
refers to numbers on a printed map which wasn‟t useful at all! Having
been to visit Brownsea Island once I think it would be a perfect place
to go back to as a family. With some clear information I would love to
go round and explain everything to my child. I think the island is
fantastic and with some more information on the history, layout and
wildlife, it would be a fantastic day out.

Image forty-three: Isabella touches the sculpture of Baden-
Powell, founder of the Scouts. Points of interest in relation to
history and nature could be incorporated into a tour of the island

Image forty-four: Isabella sits on a bench and reads the braille
information on the walks. This is also provided in large print.

7.7 Access to interpretative information at Chirk
    Castle
Currently at Chirk, all visitors receive the “Welcome to Chirk” leaflet
and can purchase a guidebook, which has detailed information on the
castle and grounds. There are some text panels in the formal gardens
and print information sheets in the rooms of the castle. There is no
interpretative information for blind and partially sighted people other
than a short braille guide.

We discussed with Emma Hegarty the possibility of providing large
print copies of the guide book and the information on the gardens and
grounds at the reception and ticket desk, and in providing large print
versions of the information sheets in the rooms in the Castle itself.

A relatively cheap and easy solution for providing accessible
interpretation for blind and partially sighted visitors would be a guide
service. Staff and volunteers could be trained in visual awareness,
guiding techniques and description and could accompany visors with
sight loss around the castle and formal gardens.

Bev, Chris and I discussed how interpretative information could be
incorporated into the woodland walk, which would allow visitors to
discover more about the woodland area, its history, plant and wildlife.


                                                                      70
This information needs to complement the environment without
intruding too much into it. Bev and Chris felt there was a need to
have information that all visitors could access on the walk.

We discussed ways in which information could be developed.
Although information on the woodland walks could be given at the
entrance to Chirk Castle, we also discussed ways in which it could be
incorporated. As benches are going to be placed along the walk,
these were seen as a natural point at which to stop and digest
information. Both Bev and Chris were keen on the idea of having
information points at the benches, where a visitor could sit and read
or listen to information interpreting the space. It was felt that pockets
attached to the benches could provide information in large and
standard print, as well as potentially in audio. Benches could be
identified to blind and partially sighed visitors with a small section of
tactile paving as is done in Texel.

Chris has attended several walks that Colin Entwis at Fieldsman
Trails has undertaken of local areas in North Wales and the North
West. Colin combines tactile images, sounds, smells and description
to give people information on the natural environment. It was felt that
such a tour along the woodland path, led by a freelance tour leader or
a member of the Chirk staff or volunteer team, would be very
interesting and could lead to further suggestions of how information
could be provided along the walk.

Image forty-five: Bev by one of the information panels at the
entrance to the formal gardens. This information panel is a
movable plinth on the ground that is about half a meter tall, with
the writing going right to the ground. Although Bev reads large
print, she was not able to read this sign.




                                                                      71
Image forty-six: Another sign in the garden, giving information
about topiary. The background is a grey colour, the Welsh text
is in a very light grey font and the English text is in white. Below
is an image of Bev looking at and touching the topiary,
something she would like to have found out more about.


7.8 Recommendations for the Trust
Whilst many outdoor sites do provide fantastic sensory opportunities
for all visitors, it is essential that information on these is provided in
formats that blind and partially sighted people can access. The sites
in France addressed this with accessible and touchable information
and in the Netherlands, it was addressed with descriptive information
in many formats.

Texel is a very impressive example of providing accessible
information: information on the nature park was made available in
clear print, large print, audio, braille, via an accessible website in
advance of a visit or could be printed on demand at any font size at
the site. This ensures that all visitors can access the information in
the format they require and gives the visitor choice. Although not a
difficult or expensive service to provide, this example of best practice
is unfortunately achieved by very few sites.

The two sites in France also provide information on the natural
environment, plant, bird, insect and wildlife in touchable images and
models – not specifically for blind and partially sighted people but for
all visitors to enjoy. This gives information on the natural
environment in an engaging and accessible way. The information
panels do require a visitor to either be able to read the print (which
wasn‟t always distinct at Romelaëre) or braille.

Extra interpretation can also be provided by tours that are designed
to be accessible for all. Fieldsman Trails, for example, organise tours
that give visitors description, opportunities to touch, smell and use all
their senses as well as providing information packs in advance for
blind and partially sighted people to study before a visit. Such tours
could be fairly easily organised in addition to permanent interpretative


                                                                        72
information, and indeed offer a way of discussing with users what
interpretative information there should be at each site.

Involving users in development and evaluation is essential to ensure
not only that services are accessible but also useful and usable. Both
the sites in France and the Netherlands had developed services
through consultation.
Therefore, recommendations for the Trust include:

 Ensuring that information on a site, its history, development and on
  the natural environment through the seasons is provided in
  accessible formats and promoted in publicity material and at the
  site itself. This information must be developed with blind and
  partially sighted users to make sure that it is useful as well as
  accessible, for example extra description or accessible maps may
  be required as well as direct transcription of information.

 Ensure that interpretative panels are designed to be
  accessible to as many people as possible, both in terms of
  sensory and intellectual access.

 Training staff and volunteers in visual awareness and
  description so that they can facilitate one-on-one or group tours
  that are accessible to all.

 Using audio information for all, which can include description
  and way-finding information for blind and partially sighted visitors.

 Highlight interesting sensory features to all visitors in an
  accessible manner.

 Consider where developing tactile models of landscape or
  natural features might be sympathetic to the surroundings and
  benefit all visitors.




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8. The development process
This chapter highlights examples of best practice in terms of
service development from the European sites visited.

8.1 Introduction: the development process

Whilst earlier chapters have examined the experience for the
visitor, this chapter looks more at the processes the European
case studies have undertaken in order to achieve better access for
disabled visitors.

8.2 The development process at Parc Naturel
   Régional des Caps et Marais d’Opale

Luc Barbier led the development at Romelaëre and Wavrans sur
L‟Aa. Both sites were developed by a technical committee of
experts that comprised of the architects, designers and surveyors,
alongside disabled people as experts in access.

What was interesting in this process was that there was not a
separate access group, but that the access group was part of the
design team. This meant that disabled people were involved in
decisions at every stage and were part of the process rather than
an „add-on‟.

Romelaëre took eight months to complete, over 20,000 hours of
planning and work and cost around €7,757,500. Funding came
from a number of sources including the government of Pas-de-
Calais, the European Union, EDF (Electricité De France), the
Reserves naturelles de France (the national body for nature
reserves), France Telecom, the Parc itself and others.

8.3 The development process at Texel

The improvements at Texel have been made with the input of a
number of different disabled advisors. The first nature path for
blind and partially sighted people was developed in 1975. A
holiday home for blind and partially sighted people was established
on the island and a trail with information in large print and braille



                                                                  74
was developed for visitors to the holiday home and other blind and
partially sighted visitors.

Staatsbosbeheer have been working to make more and more of
the facilities in the national park accessible. Four look out points, a
barbeque site and many picnic spots have also been made
accessible for wheelchair users.

In 2003, the original path for blind and partially sighted people was
replaced with a new integrated nature path. This path was
designed to be as accessible as possible to as many people as
possible. This was not seen as being a path for blind and partially
sighted people, or one for disabled people but as an inclusive path
for all. This distinction is seen in the ways in which the path is
promoted. The path around Alloo is described as a path for all and
internal access symbols such as that of the wheelchair user and
the eye symbol are used to inform visitors of the accessibility of the
route.

Improvements at Texel for disabled visitors have been financed by
a variety of different funders. Some of the costs have been met by
the National Park and by Staatsbosbeheer. The county council
has also contributed to the improvements, as has the Texel ferry
service.

The nature path cost approximately €200,000, most of this
expense involved making adjustments to the road. Again funding
was supported by a number of partners including local government
bodies, Staatsbosbeheer, charitable trusts and the local ferry
service.

The development of an accessible bird observation hut in 2001 is
an interesting example of how including access for all principles in
planned developments can secure funding. The original viewing
hut needed to be replaced and so Staatsbosbeheer researched
ways to rebuild this hut. With inclusive principles a fundamental
part of the design, Staatsbosbeheer were able to apply for funds
from the county council and various charitable trusts and funds.
This meant that the development of the accessible hut cost the
organisation less than if they had tried to fund the development of
the hut themselves and had maybe had to leave out some of the
accessibility features.



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8.4 Current practice in the National Trust

The Trust recognises the importance of consulting with visitors and
members of staff and volunteers and the Head of Access for All
has recently produced a guidance document about effective
consultation with disabled people.

Regional teams are currently working on a guidance document to
assess how properties can work effectively with consultation
groups. The value of consultation has been proved in the project
focusing on garden interpretation referred to earlier in the report
which was itself developed in response to visitor comment. The
regional members of staff who co-ordinate access provisions in
their particular properties are working with the Head of Access for
All to improve the levels of consultation with disabled groups and
individuals. This will happen at regional and property level to
ensure access opportunities are developed with direct involvement
from those who specifically use them, as well as making sure they
are of benefit to a wider audience.

8.5 Recommendations for the National Trust
   properties

Although none of the features at Texel and Caps et Marais d‟Opale
may be new to the Trust, what was very impressive was the way
that they were executed so that the sites provide an inclusive
experience for all. There are some general principles that are
useful to reflect on:

      Whilst recognising that many blind and partially sighted
    people may visit the sites in the company of sighted friends,
    partners, family members or companions, both sites aimed to
    provide as independent a visit as possible. Both sites started
    from the principle – that a blind or partially sighted visitor may
    want to navigate the site and enjoy the experience
    autonomously. Although many of the auditors commented that
    they were unlikely to visit a site alone, each felt that being
    enabled to enjoy the experience alongside sighted companions
    without relying on them for information and interpretation was
    key.




                                                                   76
      Access at both sites was very much integrated into
    everything done at the sites; both had an inclusive approach.
    It was not a case of there being a „route for blind people‟, a
    „wheelchair accessible route‟ or a special tour. Both sites
    developed routes around their sites for all, and incorporated
    features that would enable a visit for disabled people into these
    routes. This was also demonstrated in their publicity.

      Particularly at Texel, there was a commitment to providing
    information in many different formats, allowing the visitor to
    choose what was most useful and accessible to them.

      The development of the site at Romelaëre was very
    interesting in that disabled advisors were members of the
    technical committee overseeing the development of the
    project alongside the architect and surveyor, rather than as part
    of a separate access group.

    Both sites use simple, creative solutions. None of the
    solutions implemented at Texel and Caps et Marais d‟Opale
    are particularly complicated but they have been designed to
    be usable as well as accessible.

     Both sites worked with other local providers to ensure that
    the whole visitor experience, including transport,
    accommodation and restaurants are accessible and promoted
    to all.




                                                                   77
9. Overall conclusions and
   recommendations for the Trust
9.1 Overall recommendations for the Trust

Many of the recommendations in this section may not seem
revolutionary, but the implication of these recommendations would
benefit many National Trust properties. Whilst there was no
startling new ideas in the sites in Parc Naturel Régional Pas-de
Calais and Texel, what was impressive was the way that they had
been realised.

Sharing best practice and ideas at a local, regional and national
level is vital. Properties can learn a lot from what has and hasn‟t
worked elsewhere.

Ultimately, providing an accessible site is about customer service.
None of these recommendations for development will result in a
better service unless:

 all staff and volunteers know what services are available (e.g.
  what accessible information is there and where is it kept?)
 all staff and volunteers know how services can be used (e.g.
  can staff and volunteers explain how the tactile images should
  be used or how to operate the audio guide?)
 services are in working order and kept up-to-date (e.g.
  accessible information is updated when print information is
  updated and the audio guide has batteries.)
 all staff and volunteers are confident in meeting and greeting
  blind and partially sighted people, and in offering sighted
  assistance as required.

The following recommendations summarise those suggested in the
report for each of the issues examined.

Promoting the site: pre-visit information

 Individual sites could develop their own concise access
  guides to complement that offered in „Information for Visitors
  with Disabilities‟ and promote these to local groups.


                                                                      78
 This information could be presented in an engaging radio style
  audio format perhaps in partnership with a local Talking
  Newspaper or a local college and would be a useful marketing
  as well as information tool.

 Sending out pre-visit information to visitors via Articles for
  the Blind.

 Hosting open days at the site for local people to discuss
  services available, promote the site and promote opportunities
  for working as a volunteer. Ensuring that local disability groups
  are invited to such open days and offered transport.

9.1.1    Getting to the site

 Sites should liaise with local providers such as community
  transport services and other transport providers to establish
  whether a service could be run in partnership.

 Sites could consider contacting local volunteer bureaux or
  local societies of blind and partially sighted people to discuss
  the possibility of volunteer drivers.

 Some National Trust members who have access to a car might
  be interested in a Trust buddying scheme for those with similar
  interests, such as that run by Shape Ticketing Scheme or the
  RNIB Leisure Link project.

9.1.2    Getting around the site

 Properties should offer large, clear print maps and should
  work to provide details on the paths around an outdoor heritage
  site including types of path, gradient and accessible features
  along route.

 All staff and volunteers should receive visual awareness and
  guiding training to increase their confidence in offering
  assistance to blind and partially sighted visitors.

 Sites should consider how maps that meet the needs of as
  many visitors as possible (such as the Map for All described
  in chapter six) can be incorporated into sites to give all visitors
  an overview of the site and potential routes around.

                                                                     79
 There may be places in some sites where tactile surfacing
  could be used in a way that is sympathetic to the environment,
  to allow blind and partially sighted people to be more
  independent.

9.1.3   Access to interpretative information

 Properties should ensure that information on a site, its history
  and natural environment through the seasons is provided in
  accessible formats and promoted in publicity material and at
  the site itself.

 Interpretative panels should be designed to be accessible to
  as many people as possible, both in terms of sensory and
  intellectual access.

 All staff and volunteers should receive description training in
  addition to visual awareness training to increase their
  confidence in offering assistance to blind and partially sighted
  visitors.

 Audio information can be developed for all, and can include
  description and way-finding information for blind and partially
  sighted visitors.

 Interesting sensory features should be promoted to all visitors
  in an accessible manner.

 Sites could consider where developing tactile models of
  landscape or natural features might be sympathetic to the
  surroundings and benefit all visitors.

9.2        Specific recommendations for Brownsea
           Island

There are a number of easily achievable short-term improvements
that could be made at Brownsea and Chirk as well as some longer
term improvements that could be assessed and perhaps
implemented if there is available funding.




                                                                 80
9.1.4 Short term

 Contact could be made again with Dorset Blind Association to
  begin a programme of consultation on how services should be
  developed in the future.

 A large print version of the guide book and information on the
  nature of the island could be made available. In fact, the
  information could be kept electronically in the reception area,
  and theoretically printed off at the font size required by the visitor.
  If consultation revealed that people were interested in this
  information in other formats, it could be provided as part of a mail
  service in advance of a visit.

 A large clear print sign saying that large print information is
  available could be displayed in the reception area to advertise the
  information to all. There are many people, particularly older
  people, who do not consider themselves to have a visual
  impairment but who find larger print easier to read.

 Trailer tours could be promoted to blind and partially sighted
  people as a way of receiving information on the whole island.
  Those volunteers who might lead the trailer tour could be given
  description training perhaps through someone who describes in
  theatres or museums in the South West.

 A list of services available for blind and partially sighted people
  could be compiled and promoted to the Dorset Blind Association
  and via the „What‟s on in the South West‟ tape magazine run by
  Mike Holroyd as well as by other methods.

 A „Welcome to Brownsea Island‟ tape could be made and
  promoted to local societies, local talking newspapers and other
  agencies

9.1.5 Longer term

 Consultation should take place with users and advisors on the
  best way to provide accessible interpretative information on the


                                                                       81
   island. Brownsea Island might be interested in the inclusive
   nature path developed on Texel, and in the way in which
   information at that site is given to visitors through a range of
   different formats.

 Consulting with local disabled people, the Head of Access for All
  and other experts, the Island could look to develop accessible
  routes round the island. Information on these routes such as
  types of path, gradient, accessible features etc. should be
  promoted to all visitors.

 Audio information could be developed for all visitors on the
  Island to provide extra interpretative information on the history of
  the island and its natural environment. A system such as that
  developed at Texel could provide interpretative information for all
  as well as orientation information for blind and partially sighted
  people.

9.3         Specific recommendations for Chirk Castle

9.1.1 Short term

 Make contact with local groups such as North Wales Society for
  the Blind, Wrexham Vision Support and Mold Vision Support to
  begin a programme of consultation on how services might be
  developed.

 Provide two large print versions of „Welcome to Chirk Castle‟
  leaflet, one in English and one in Welsh. Have a sign to let all
  visitors know that large print information is available. Produce a
  large print version of the guide book. As part of this guide, a large
  clear print map of the site should be provided.

 Continue to evaluate the woodland walkway and consider future
  developments in consultation with blind and partially sighted
  people, e.g. how to develop interpretative information along the
  walk and the possibility of adding a handrail to at least the
  beginning of the walk.



                                                                      82
 Train all staff and volunteers in visual awareness, guiding and
  description and then offer a guide service for blind and partially
  sighted visitors.

 A concise access guide could outline these services and could
  be promoted to local agencies and groups as well as being
  promoted to local talking newspapers, local radio and other media.

9.1.2 Longer-term

 Organise open days for consultation and promotion to further
  engage with local blind and partially sighted people.

 Consider developing a radio style audio version of pre-visit
  information that could be promoted to all visitors and particularly
  blind and partially sighted people.

 As interpretative information is developed for the Woodland
  Walk‟, ensure through consultation that the information is
  accessible and useful to blind and partially sighted people and
  that large, clear print versions are developed. Explore the idea of
  using benches along the walkway as an information point for
  visitors to stop and read accessible information on the woodland
  through the seasons.

 Along the woodland walkway, consider developing tactile
  sculptures or models that give information on the natural
  environment through the year that are accessible to all visitors.




                                                                       83
Appendix one: Bibliography
‘Access Plans’, Heritage Lottery Fund, 2003

‘BT Countryside for All’, Fieldfare Trust, 1997

‘By all reasonable means: inclusive access to the outdoors for
disabled people’ The Countryside Agency, 2005

‘Code of Practice: Rights of Access, Goods, Facilities, Services
and Premises’, Disability Rights Commission, 2002

‘Easy Access to Historic Buildings’, English Heritage, 2004

‘Easy Access to Historic Landscapes’, English Heritage, 2005

‘Improving Your Project for Disabled People’, Heritage Lottery
Fund, 2004

‘L’accessibilite des Site Naturels au Public Handicape’, Claire
Terrier, Parc Naturel Regional des Caps at Marais d‟Opale, 2000

‘Making connections: a guide to accessible greenspace’ Sensory
Trust, 2001

‘See it Right’, RNIB, 2001

‘Sign Design Guide’, Sign Design Society and JMU Access
Partnership, 2000

‘Talking Images Guide and Research’, RNIB, 2003

‘Thinking about Access’, Heritage Lottery Fund, 2004

‘Tourisme et Handicaps’, Agence Francaise de L‟ingenierie
Touristique, 2000




                                                                  84
    Appendix two: Facts about sight loss3
People with sight problems come from all sorts of backgrounds and
lead all sorts of lives. Each person is affected in a way that is
individual to them - it is not the same experience for everyone.

Many people with sight problems lead full and independent lives.
Some may need assistance with certain tasks and may have to adapt
their daily lives, but this is possible and very often achieved with
success. There is also help available from organisations such as
Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB).

What does "sight problems" mean?

When we say "people with sight problems", we are describing the full
range of people who have uncorrectable sight loss. Sight loss is one
of the commonest causes of disability in the UK, and is associated
with old age more than any other disability. The older you become,
the more likely you are to have a sight problem. The most severe
sight problems can lead to someone being "blind" or "partially
sighted".

Specialist eye doctors (ophthalmologists) decide if someone can be
registered as blind or partially sighted with their local social services
department.

 A person can register as blind if they can only read the top letter of
  the optician's eye chart from three metres or less.
 A person can register as partially sighted if they can only read the
  top letter of the chart from six metres or less.

There are benefits of registering as blind or partially sighted. Yet
many people who are eligible do not register, either because they are
unaware of the benefits or because they don't want to.

There are around two million people in the UK with a sight problem.
This means that while wearing glasses they are still unable to

3
    Taken from the RNIB publication, „Sight Problems‟.

                                                                        85
recognise someone across the road or have difficulty reading
newsprint. Among these two million people, around one million are
registered or eligible to be registered as blind or partially sighted.

What are the common causes of sight problems?

Some people are born with sight problems whilst others may inherit
an eye condition that gets gradually worse as they get older. Some
people may lose their sight as the result of an accident, whilst illness
can lead to conditions such as diabetic retinopathy.

Age related eye conditions are the most common cause of sight loss
in the UK. Eighty per cent of people with sight problems in the UK are
65 or over. Their eyesight effected by conditions such as macular
degeneration or cataracts.

What can people with sight problems see?

Being blind does not always mean that a person is living in total
darkness. Forty-nine per cent of blind and eighty per cent of partially
sighted people can recognise a friend at arms length.

Other people will be affected by eye conditions in different ways:
some will have no central vision or no vision to the sides; others may
see a patchwork of blank and defined areas, or else everything may
be seen as a vague blur.

However, people are affected by eye conditions in different ways.
You should not assume that you know what someone can see just
because you know what eye condition they have.

Being blind does not mean total darkness. You might think that if you
shut your eyes you are temporarily blind. However, if with your eyes
shut you were to turn your head towards a window, you would detect
a minimal perception of light. Around one fifth of people who are blind
have this level of vision or lower. The rest will have some useful sight.

Can it be difficult getting around?




                                                                         86
Many people with sight problems get around independently. They
may use their remaining vision and/or a mobility aid, such as a white
cane or a guide dog. Other people may need the assistance of
someone with sight. Some people could also have additional
disabilities, which make it difficult to get around.

In the UK there are around 170,000 people who use a white cane. If
someone wishes to use a long, or guide cane, training is available to
teach them how to use it and also to help them learn journeys and
routes that they often take.

Around 5,000 people use guide dogs. Guide dogs are trained to lead
their owners around obstructions and stop at hazards such as kerbs.
Contrary to what some people think, guide dogs cannot read street
signs and they do not know when to get off the bus. Guide dog users
will receive training from the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.

Canes are an essential mobility aid for many blind and partially
sighted people. Long canes are moved from side to side to identify
obstacles in a person's path. Symbol canes are used purely to
identify someone as having a sight problem.

What can help people to get around safely?

In a familiar place, a person with sight problems will often be able to
get around safely by using their memory of the surroundings and any
remaining sight they have.

The way public areas, buildings and public transport are planned is
also very important. Certain design features can help enormously
such as:

 well-positioned, easy to read signage, ideally with a tactile or
  braille element
 tactile paving - paving slabs with raised bumps - which warns
  people of hazards, such as road crossings
 clear reliable announcements of stops on public transport.

Badly parked cars; wheelie bins in the middle of the pavement;
bicycles lying outside shops and trees and plants overhanging the

                                                                      87
pavement are examples of easily avoidable potential hazards to
someone with a sight problem.

How do people with sight problems read?

The ability to read written information is crucial to our independence
and ability to do everyday things such as shop or travel. However,
often information is not available to people with sight problems in a
way that they can read it.

Many blind and partially sighted people can read ordinary, printed
information if it is well designed. Text of a good size (such as 14 point
print, as in this guide), and good contrast between the colour of the
text and the background can help. Some people use what is known
as large print, which can be any size from 16 point upwards.

There are systems of reading by touch such as braille. There are
20,000-25,000 people who use braille regularly, and many more
make use of braille labelling on signs, in lifts and on packaging.
However, it is unusual for people losing their sight in later life to learn
the system.

Audio-tape is a popular method of accessing information, used mostly
for leisure, and CD-Roms are being used more frequently by those
with the ability to use a computer.

How can computers help?

An increasing number of blind and partially sighted people have
access to computers either in the workplace or at home. People with
sight problems can obtain information from a computer in different
ways:

 closed circuit televisions (CCTVs) enlarge the text on screen until
  it is large enough to read
 computerised speech systems read text from the screen to the
  user
 text on screen can be converted into braille that is displayed
  directly onto a specially adapted keyboard and read by touch.


                                                                         88
These methods can be used to access the huge amount of
information available on the internet. If a web page is well designed,
people with sight problems can read them. For example, images or
pictures should have a text description attached. Information on how
a web page should be designed is available on the RNIB website at
www.rnib.org.uk

Audio description can help people with sight problems enjoy
television, videos, DVDs or the theatre. Visual information such as
scenery and body language is described aurally to complement the
usual programme sounds.

Should I offer help?

If you see somebody with a sight problem who you think may need
help, then ask. Let them tell you what kind of help they need. It may
be that they need help crossing the road or finding the train station. If
your help is needed, keep a few common sense things in mind:

 introduce yourself and make sure the person knows you are
  speaking to them.
 talk directly to them and not through a third party.
 if you are going to guide them, let them take your arm, don't grab
  theirs.
 point out kerbs and steps as you approach them and say whether
  they go up or down.
 mention any potential hazards that lie ahead and say where they
  are.
 if you are guiding someone into a seat, place their hand on the
  back of the seat before they sit down, so they can orientate
  themselves.
 don't walk away without saying you are leaving.

Many people with sight problems leave their home rarely, if at all.
One of the main reasons for this is fear of crossing the road. Good
design features such as tactile paving at crossings and visual, audible
and tactile signals telling you when to cross, are all helpful but are not
always available. If you see somebody looking as if they could use a
little assistance crossing the road, why not ask if you can help?


                                                                       89
Appendix three: The legal framework

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) makes it unlawful to
discriminate against disabled people. It requires service providers to
change the way in which they deliver services to ensure that they are
accessible to disabled people. For service providers, such as heritage
sites, it is unlawful to:

 refuse to serve a disabled person for a reason which relates to
  their disability
 offer a sub-standard service
 provide a service on different terms.

There is also a duty to make changes (called "reasonable
adjustments") to the service provided enabling easier access for
disabled people. There are four types of changes that service
providers must consider:

 changes to any practices, policies or procedures that make it
  impossible or unreasonably difficult for a disabled person to use a
  service
 the provision of auxiliary aids and services that provide additional
  help or assistance to disabled customers
 making physically inaccessible services available by another
  means
 making buildings where services are provided more accessible.

The Act itself does not state what adjustments might be reasonable,
but cites information on audio tape or the provision of a sign language
interpreter as examples of such adjustments. The Disability Rights
Commission (DRC) has produced a Code of Practice for Rights of
Access to Goods, Facilities, Services and Premises on this part of
the Act. Although this code is not the law itself, it has to be taken into
account by the courts where relevant. It provides very detailed
information about what the law means and how organisations can
comply with it. It is available from Her Majesty‟s Stationary Office or
can be downloaded free of charge from the DRC
website.(www.drc.org.uk).



                                                                       90
What will be considered reasonable in terms of adjustments under
the DDA depends on a number of factors, such as human and
financial resources. Whatever an organisation‟s circumstances, it is
extremely unlikely that there is not something which could be done
make services more accessible. It is important for an organisation to
review their current situation and to create a prioritised plan for
improvements. User consultation and progress monitoring should be
used to ensure on-going improvement.

In 2005, The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 has been amended by
the Disability Discrimination Bill 2005. The new Act introduces many
amendments to the original legislation. One key feature is the
Disability Equality Duty which places a duty on all public sector
authorities to promote disability equality. This duty will have a
significant impact on the way in which all public services are run and
on improving the lives of disabled people. It is part of a new breed of
legislation that will serve to ensure that all public bodies build
disability equality into the way in which they carry out their business.

This new legislation means that public sector bodies will have a duty
to promote disability equality in all aspects of their work – similar to
the Race Relations Amendment Act. From the police to health
services, schools, local authorities, NHS trusts, central government,
the entire public sector will have a duty to promote the equalisation of
opportunities for disabled people. Those organisations who are not
covered by the scope of the Bill may still chose to follow the Duty.




                                                                     91
Appendix four: Accessible information
Blind and partially sighted people read information in different ways,
including standard print, large print, tape, braille, computer disk or
over the internet. Different people have different preferences and one
format will not suit everyone. This is why it is crucial to produce
information in a range of accessible formats.

Making information accessible is often cheaper and easier than many
people think. When compared with how much is spent on standard
print information, the cost can be very small.

RNIB produce clear print guidelines to help publishers make their
information accessible to as many people as possible. The guidelines
encourage publishers and designers to:

 use a minimum font size of 14 point.
 make sure there is a strong contrast between text and background
  colour (black on white and black on yellow are among the
  strongest contrasts but there is a range of options).
 not to run text over pictures or diagrams.
 use paper that minimises show through and glare.

Adopting RNIB's clear print guidelines can be done immediately and
at virtually no cost. If you produce all your visitor and collection
information using clear print guidelines and a 14 point font, you will be
maximising the number of people who can access it.

Large print

Large print is considered to be anything that is in a 16 point font or
above. Large print users will each have their own requirements in
terms of text size and you cannot produce information in one size that
will satisfy all those who read large print. Therefore, processes are
required that enable individual responses to individual requests. This
can be as simple as having an electronic text file where the font size
can be adjusted on request and printed immediately for the customer.
The guidelines for the production of clear print, mentioned previously,
need to be followed when producing large print


                                                                      92
Braille

Braille is a system of raised dots which are read by touch. It can be
produced in-house with the right software, training and an embosser
(braille printer), although it is more common for it to be produced
through a transcription agency.

Audio tape

Audio tapes can be produced in-house or by a transcription agency,
or with the help of a local talking newspaper, or local radio station. An
agency would give a more professional feel to standard literature, and
make longer documents easier to listen to, whilst the in-house
approach would be well suited to material aimed at individual
customers.

Electronic text

This can be a cheap and easy way of producing information and
distributing it, by email or computer disk, to the growing number of
blind and partially sighted people that have access to computers. The
information can be accessed through the use of large screens or
access technology such as programmes that enlarge the text on the
screen, or screen readers that read what is on the screen and convey
the information to the user via speech or braille. Individuals may also
be able to create their own large print or braille documents using the
electronic file.

Information will not always be available concerning what software
customers are using. As a basic rule simple text files will work well for
all forms of access technology.

Providing a range of formats

It must be remembered that many people with sight problems use
different forms of information in different situations and it is important
to check with the visitor. For example, it should not be assumed that if
someone requests information prior to their visit to be prepared in
braille or tape, that they would want information that they use during
the visit in the same format.

                                                                       93
On-line information

The growth of the internet means that people with sight problems now
have the opportunity to enjoy a wealth of information and services
independently in a way not previously available. As with the
production of electronic text, web pages must be appropriately
designed. If certain guidelines aren‟t followed, sites cannot be used
by blind and partially sighted people. The Web Content Accessibility
Guidelines (WCAG) are published by the Web Accessibility Initiative
(WAI) and should be used in the development of all websites.




                                                                  94
Appendix five: Physical access at The Slufter:
making sand dunes accessible to all
Images forty-seven: View of The Slufter flood plain taken from
the plain and looking back over the fresh water streams back to
the large sand dunes which separate the plain from the road.

The Slufter is a very popular nature area on the island. This is where
water form the North Sea penetrates a large plain through an opening
in the outer row of dunes. Low and high dune tide effect he area and
influence the plant and animal live. The site receives around one
million visits a year.

The Slufter is reached by crossing a large dune, which until recently
could only by crossed by steps. This year, however, after many
years of planning and consultation, an accessible path has been
created which allows wheelchair users, those with mobility problems,
those with young children and anyone who wishes to take the path a
route over the dune. As the sand dune is the protection from
flooding, the path had to be developed so as not to damage the dune
in any way.

Image forty-eight: The flights of step that until recently needed
to be crossed in order to enter the flood plain of the Slufter. The
large ‘kissing-gate’ that is large enough to accommodate a
beach wheelchair in the right of the picture shows the beginning
of the accessible path over the dune.

Image forty-nine and fifty views of the accessible path over the
sand dune. The path incorporates passing points large enough
for two beach wheelchairs to pass

Image fifty-one: Two visitors, one of whom is a wheelchair user,
on the flood plain at The Slufter.

Image fifty-two: There are parking spaces reserved for disabled
visitors at the entrance to The Slufter.




                                                                   95
Appendix six: useful contacts
National Trust
Heelis
Kemble Drive
Swindon
SN2 2NA
Telephone 01793 817400
www.nationaltrust.org.uk

Royal National Institute of the Blind
105 Judd Street
London WC1H 9NE
Telephone 020 7388 1266

Other organisations in alphabetical order

Action for Blind People
14-16 Verney Road
London SE16 3DZ
Telephone 020 7635 4800
www.afbp.org

Audio Description Association
Adrienne Pye, Membership Secretary
c/o Arts Marketing Hampshire
Mottisfont Court
Tower Street
Winchester SO23 8ND
Telephone 01962 84 69 60

Cadw – Welsh Historic Monuments
National Assembly for Wales
Cathays Park
Cardiff CF10 3NQ
Telephone 029 2050 0200
www.cadw.wales.gov.uk




                                            96
Centre for Accessible Environments
Nutmeg House
60 Gainsford Street
London SE1 2NY
Telephone 020 7357 8182
Minicom 020 7357 8182
www.cae.org.uk

Confederation of Transcribed Information Services (COTIS)
67 High Street
Tarporley
Cheshire CW6 0DP
Telephone 01829 73 33 51
www.cotis.org.uk

Countryside Council for Wales
Maes-y-Ffynnon
Penrhosgarnedd
Bangor
Gwynedd
LL57 2DW
08451 306 229
www.ccw.gov.uk

Department for Culture, Media and Sport
2-4 Cockspur Street
London SW1Y 5DH
Telephone 020 7211 6200
E Mail: enquiries@culture.gov.uk
www.culture.gov.uk

Disability Rights Commission
DRC Helpline
FREEPOST
MID02164
Stratford upon Avon CV37 9BR
Telephone 08457 622 633
Textphone 08457 622 644
www.drc.org.uk



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English Heritage
Customer Services Department
PO Box 569
Swindon SN2 2YP
Telephone 0870 333 1181
www.english-heritage.org.uk

Fieldfare Trust
7 volunteer House
69 Crossgate
Cupar
Fife
KY15 5AS
Telephone 01334 657708
www.fieldfaretrust.org.uk

Fieldsman Trails
Colin Antwis
Fron Deg
Clayton Road
Mold
Flintshire CH7 1SU UK
Telephone 01352 75 62 02
www.dialspace.dial.pipex.com/town/parade/ni30/fieldsman/

Guide Dogs for the Blind
Burghfield Common
Reading RG7 3YG
Telephone 0870 600 2323
www.guidedogs.co.uk

Heritage Lottery Fund
7 Holbein Place
London
SW1W 8NR
Telephone: 020 7591 6000
www.hlf.org.uk

JMU Access Partnership
105 Judd Street

                                                           98
London WC1H 9NE
Telephone 020 7391 2002
www.jmuaccess.org.uk
National Register for Access Consultants
www.nrac.org.uk

RNID
19-23 Featherstone Street
London EC1Y 8SL
Telephone 0808 808 0123 (freephone)
Textphone 0808 808 9000 (freephone)
www.rnid.org.uk

RNIB Tactile Images and plans
RNIB Peterborough
PO Box 173
Peterborough PE2 6WS
Telephone 01733 37 07 77

Scottish Natural Heritage
12 Hope Terrace
Edinburgh
EH9 2AS
Telephone 0131 447 4784
www.snh.org.uk

Sense
11-13 Clifton Terrace
Finsbury Park
London N4 3SR
Telephone 020 7272 7774
Textphone 020 7272 9648
www.sense.org.uk

Sensory Trust
Watering lane Nursery
St Austell
Cornwall
PL26 6BE
Telephone 01726 222900

                                           99
www.sensorytrust.org.uk

Talking Newspapers Association of the UK
National Recording Centre
Heathefield
East Sussex TN21 8DB
Telephone 01435 86 27 37
www.tnel.co.uk or www.tnauk.org.uk

The Dog Rose Trust
83 Greenacres
Ludlow
Shropshire SY8 1LZ
Telephone 01584 87 45 67
E Mail: information@dogrose-trust.org.uk
www.dogrose-trust.org.uk

Vocaleyes
(Nationwide audio description producers)
25 Short Street
London SE1 8LJ
Telephone 020 7261 9199
www.vocaleyes.co.uk




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