Southampton City Council
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Southampton City Council

Trainees try sign language

Developing accessible tourism

 

The Tudor House and Garden, SeaCity Museum, and Southampton City Art Gallery are three of Southampton’s largest tourist attractions, regularly drawing large numbers of visitors to their venues.

In 2011 and 2012, two of the buildings underwent a refurbishment and during this process, Southampton City Council were advised by consultants to improve accessibility across these attractions. However, in order to create a fully accessible environment, Southampton City Council understood that staff awareness was also a very important factor.

As the council’s Cultural Services Venue Manager, Steve Newell is responsible for the general public’s experience of the attractions, as well as the cafés and retail areas, and the hire of these venues, therefore he understood that staff awareness of disability was of high importance.

Steve explains, “A high percentage of our staff at these attractions are customer facing, so we wanted to broaden our team’s knowledge and understanding about different requirements and consider what we need to do to better meet the needs of people with disabilities.”

“The remaining staff also have an influence on the visitor’s experience as they work behind the scenes, look after websites, plan out and physically arrange the exhibitions. So, we decided that all members of staff would benefit from the training.”

After contacting Bascule Disability Training, Managing Director, Chris Jay visited Southampton City Council and provided a bespoke training module specific to the council’s requirements for staff members from all three tourist attractions.

“Chris delivered disability awareness training that specifically addressed our sector. “continues Steve.  He didn’t just focus on customer service, and face to face interactions with the general public, he also helped us to consider the setting up of exhibitions, web site accessibility and telephone customer care too.”

“The staff found it to be very useful, and enjoyed how interactive the training was, allowing for in-depth discussion. There was nothing off the table, it was an open forum and we could talk openly about everything -which was very useful.”

“We know that there is always room for improvement and the training has certainly made us think are we doing enough? Is there more we can do for visitors? And- what changes might be needed for the future?”

“The training has really allowed us to improve our ability to consider the needs of our customers with disabilities. We would certainly recommend Bascule Disability Training to other councils who are considering improving staff awareness and accessibility in their venues.”