01 Aug The UK’s Most Accessible Cities

In mid-July, a call was made for major UK airports such as London Gatwick, London Stansted, Birmingham and Manchester to improve their accessibility standards and meet the huge demand in assistance requests. It has been revealed that there are around three million requests for assistance at UK airports each year.

In light of this, we thought we would shine the spotlight on the accessibility standards of a few of the country’s most popular cities and their landmarks and attractions.

Cardiff

Cardiff is one of Britain’s largest cities and has become a booming tourist haven in recent times. Situated on Wales’ scenic south coast, where the River Taff meets the Severn Estuary, the city offers a fine blend of urban attractions combined with easy access to the rolling Welsh hinterland. In a number of recent publications, the Welsh capital has received plenty of plaudits for its accessibility standards. The city’s Cardiff Harbour Tours include a fleet of wheelchair accessible Aquabus’ and the St Fagans National History Museum is well-equipped for mobility impaired visitors.

Belfast

The capital city of Northern Ireland, Belfast is a place steeped in history and culture. The city is the birthplace of the RMS Titanic and is now home to the Titanic Quarter – an upscale, waterfront area of the city. The Titanic Belfast – a museum and gallery space – has introduced wheelchair accessible tours and multi-sensory tours, with audio and printed tours available for visitors with hearing or visual impairments. The Giant’s Causeway – one of Northern Ireland’s most magnificent attractions – can also be explored via shuttle bus.

Edinburgh

A city once affectionately nicknamed Old Smoky – in reference to the thick cloud of smoke that lingered above the city – modern Edinburgh has changed considerably and could not be more spectacular. Visitors are offered unbeatable views from Edinburgh Castle, the iconic, elevated fortress at the centre of the city, and the Old Town is home to a host of soaring spires and charming alleyways. The city’s beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens offer scooters and wheelchairs for those with mobility issues and there are also water points for assistance dogs. Edinburgh’s Royal Yacht Britannia has also received praise as one of the most accessible attractions in the UK.

London

Britain’s capital is the largest city in the UK and is home to a colossal range of landmarks, sights and popular tourist attractions. The city’s transport network has endured criticism for its poor accessibility standards – as of September 2017, only 71 out of 270 tube stations had fully step-free accessibility to the platforms and only 50 where someone in a wheelchair can access trains unassisted.

However, much of the city has adapted to the growing demand for improved accessibility. London Zoo, for example, has introduced disabled parking bays, a huge range of lifts and ramps and wheelchair hire (book in advance). Unfortunately, due to the nature of the attractions, guide dogs aren’t permitted access to the zoo. Other high-profile attractions with commendable accessibility standards include Kensington’s Science Museum and the British Museum.

Liverpool

Perched on the eastern banks of the Mersey Estuary, Liverpool is the fifth largest metropolitan area in the UK. This modern city has been lauded for its high-quality accessibility standards and, while other airports have received criticism, Liverpool John Lennon Airport was provided with the highest merit by the Civil Aviation Authority for its accessibility services.

Anfield – the home of Liverpool FC – is thought to have become one of the best places to watch football for those with mobility disabilities. The Museum of Liverpool has introduced braille guides for the visually impaired and the city’s World Museum has been rated by the disability charity Revitalise as the third most accessible UK tourist attraction.

Norwich

Norwich, a historic East Anglian city famed for its medieval Cathedral and Saxon ruins, is a busy tourist hub that sits on the doorstep of the bucolic Norfolk coast. Norwich Castle is awash with fascinating exhibits and those with mobility disabilities will be provided with easy access to everything except the dungeons and battlements. For lovers of the performing arts, The Theatre Royal and the Norwich Playhouse are both fully wheelchair accessible and include accessible toilets. Much like Liverpool, Norwich Airport was also ranked among the best in the country for its accessibility standards by the Civil Aviation Authority.

Birmingham

The second most populous city in the United Kingdom, Birmingham has become a popular tourist destination and a thriving hub of industry. While Birmingham East Midlands Airport has been criticised for its lack of accessible services, some of the city’s biggest landmarks have been making big steps in the way they host mobility-impaired customers.

Cadbury World has strived to better its accessibility standards and has introduced disabled parking along with scripts and video presentations for the hearing impaired. Birmingham’s prized National Motorcycle Museum has disabled parking and even has a limited number of wheelchairs that are available on a first come first serve basis.

Francis Buchanan

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