31st October 2023
Advancing Access and Inclusion in Visitor Attractions
Our Digital Experience Consultant, John Harte had the great pleasure of presenting at the AVEA conference, talking about a subject very close to our hearts, Access and Inclusion.
Here is a summary of his presentation.
What do we mean by Access and Inclusion?
In broad terms, access and inclusion refers to making sure that everyone, regardless of their abilities or background, can fully take part in activities and feel welcomed and valued. It’s about removing barriers and creating a sense of belonging for everyone.
Earlier this summer we conducted a survey of Irish attractions in association with AVEA, to get a sense of where things stand today.
We decided to conduct the survey anonymously as we felt we’d get a truer reflection of what the sector is doing. Sometimes it’s hard for organisations to admit that they’re not doing something as well as they could or should. So we were really grateful for all the replies, and hope that the survey gave them a safe, anonymous opportunity to contribute to the research, and, in doing so, contribute to improving the sector.
It was really important to us to include a wide range of attractions and to have representation across the whole gamut of cultural and heritage organisation, as well as a range of other visitor attractions.
We had 48 organisations who responded, helpfully representing all types of visitor experiences and attractions.
As you can see, cultural and heritage sites were represented really strongly.
It was also important to us that we weren’t just looking at the most established organisations with the highest visitor numbers and, again, you can see that we had a very heathy mix of organisations of all sizes.
One of the first questions we asked was whether or not your organisation held any credentials or awards for access and inclusion – and the great majority, almost 90% of the respondents, said that they held no accreditations for access and inclusion.
Our next question was whether or not your attraction currently has any signage at your welcome desk offering assistance to deaf or hard of hearing visitors.
And, in this instance, we had a slightly higher percentage of respondents who said that they had no signage of this nature at their welcome desk.
Given what we’ve learned, we wanted to understand why this is the case and we asked participating organisations – what are the main barriers to introducing more accessible visitor content?
The results again were quite interesting.
We can see, for instance, that the majority of sites said that the main barrier for them was limited resources – having neither the time nor staff to deliver this service.
For others, the nature of their sites and logistical difficulties were a barrier to entry and it’s also notable that over a third of respondents cited a lack of funding as the main reason for not offering more accessible visitor content.
But when we asked organisations if they knew where to go for more information on making their sites more accessible – some 52% of respondents said that they didn’t know where to go for more information.
We’ve put together a video to share best practice from across the sector on how to improve accessibility for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, for people with sight impairments and for those with physical needs. We also asked them for their advice on how to get started. Click on the image below to watch the video.
This is only the start of the conversation about accessibility and inclusion. Our area of expertise at ATS is around interpretation using digital content, so that is where we decided to focus this piece of research. It’s one piece of the bigger jigsaw around reaching all potential audiences and engaging with them in a meaningful way.
If you would like to find out more about how ATS can help you provide an accessible and inclusive visitor experience please get in touch .