The Houses of Parliament have unveiled an online video providing detailed information about disabled access to the Parliamentary Estate. Introduced by Paralympic gold medallist Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, the video aims to explain, improve and promote accessibility to Parliament, one of the UK’s most popular visitor attractions.
With parts of the estate dating back to the eleventh century, the Houses of Parliament are part of a UNESCO World Heritage site as well as being the seat of democracy in the UK. Over 1 million people visit each year, and Parliament is committed to improving accessibility and encouraging people, whatever their needs, to engage with Parliamentary democracy.
The new video provides a step-by-step guide to visiting Parliament, including how to get there, gaining entry, moving around the buildings, and taking a tour. Refreshment and toilet facilities are also explained in detail, ensuring that visitors are aware of the adaptations made to facilitate easy access.
Made by Parliament’s Visitor Services team in collaboration with Gilbey Films, the video is part of the Houses of Parliament’s continued work to improve accessibility and encourage public engagement. Drawing on the experiences and questions often posed regarding access, the film covers the most important areas of concern for those wishing to visit.
In research published recently, Vitalise, a national charity providing respite breaks in a holiday environment for people with disabilities and carers, found that 26% of the UK’s top 100 visitor attractions did not display accessibility details on their website, and that only 13% had staff trained in disability awareness. With the new video (available with both subtitles and sign language interpretation), a dedicated access webpage, and visitor staff trained in disability awareness, Parliament is working hard to reduce such barriers.
Chris Simmonds, CEO of Vitalise, said: “Our research shows that two thirds of people with disabilities decided against visiting attractions because of a lack of clear information about how accessible they were. Parliament’s new information video and updated access webpages clearly demonstrate their commitment to accessibility. This is precisely why we conducted our research. We want visitor attractions to take accessibility seriously and it is very heartening to see Parliament working so hard to make this historic venue open and accessible for all visitors, whatever their requirements.”
Amy Pitts, Head of Visitor and Retail Services at Parliament, said: “The Houses of Parliament are an icon of democracy in the UK and a vital part of our national heritage. They are full of history and atmosphere and exploring them is a fascinating experience. I hope that this video will provide an informative welcome for visitors with different access needs, including useful pre-visit guidance on the facilities we have available and introducing our team of trained staff who will answer any questions or offer assistance.”
Andy Gilbert, Director of Gilbey Films, said: “Our expertise is in creating access films to showcase the facilities that organisations offer. It was a pleasure to create a film for such a high profile organisation, and it is clear that reducing the barriers that disabled people face in visiting such an historic venue is a real priority for Parliament.”
Parliament’s access webpages are available at: www.parliament.uk/visiting/access/disabled-access/