Best Practices for Promoting Accessibility and Inclusivity
Best Practices for Promoting Accessibility and Inclusivity in the Leisure, Hospitality and Night Time Economy, with a Focus on Neurodiversity and Physical Accessibility
Licensed premises such as pubs, music venues and nightclubs play a pivotal role in socialising and community engagement. They serve as gathering places where people come together to unwind, celebrate and connect with others. Sadly, accessibility challenges faced by individuals with disabilities, unique requirements and neurodiverse conditions can be a barrier to many in accessing venues. The hospitality, leisure and night time economy can lead the way in creating an inclusive environment that caters to the diverse needs of its patrons.
In this blog post, we will delve into the best practices that you can employ to enhance accessibility, promote inclusivity and ensure that all customers can fully enjoy the leisure, hospitality and night time economy.
Information and Communication
Providing clear and accessible information, for example on your website, can help ensure that all individuals, including those with visual impairments and cognitive differences, can easily navigate and engage with your business. A great example is The Exchange in Bristol, that has an information page on its website for customers to refer to, which answers a lot of common accessibility questions.
One of the most effective ways of supporting individual requirements is also the simplest and lowest cost. Providing a clear way for the public to contact you in advance of their visit to ask questions or communicate their specific needs will enable you to provide any information or reassurance needed. Much of the time, no additional accommodations are needed, for example it may be a question about accessible parking nearby, or the reassurance that they can bring in medicines that are required.
Creating an Accessible Physical Environment
Carrying out an audit of your premises can help you to identify and remove architectural barriers, ensuring equal access for all patrons, including those with mobility challenges. Ramps or lifts could provide entrance accessibility, wider doorways can accommodate wheelchairs and spacious interior layouts allow for easy navigation. This isn’t a suggestion that you change your existing doorways, however if you are lucky enough to have wide doorways, this information would be useful to include on your website for wheelchair users to find.
Accessible toilet facilities ensure that everyone can enjoy a comfortable and dignified experience, and again could be highlighted on your website.
Training Staff in Disability Awareness and Inclusivity
Training staff with knowledge and understanding of disabilities, and how to support individuals with unique needs is one of the most important approaches to improving accessibility.
A well informed and trained team creates a welcoming environment where all patrons feel comfortable and respected. Staff could be trained to be aware of different disabilities, their potential challenges and appropriate ways to provide assistance and support. This training goes beyond basic awareness and extends to fostering a culture of inclusivity, empathy and understanding among the staff. By doing so, premises can create an environment where individuals with disabilities can feel valued and fully included during their visit.
Clear Signage and Printed Materials
In your venue, well-designed signage that is easy to read and uses clear symbols or graphics is a good idea. Signage should be placed at appropriate levels to ensure everyone can connect with what’s on offer, for example those of different heights and those that use mobility devices.
Clear menus with easy-to-read fonts and descriptions make it easier for individuals with visual impairments or reading difficulties to make informed choices.
Offering Alternative Formats and Communication Aids
For individuals with visual impairments, if budget allows, support could include braille menus, large print materials, or audio descriptions of events and performances.
Communication aids such as hearing loops and captioned videos could be made available for individuals with hearing impairments.
Creating a Welcoming Atmosphere
Creating a welcoming atmosphere that embraces diversity and promotes inclusivity is a crucial aspect of improving accessibility for all patrons. This is also something that can be important for staff with disabilities including neurodiverse conditions. Providing a workplace environment that is inclusive, for example building in flexibilities around scheduling, can give neurodiverse staff a career where they can thrive.
Inclusivity can be reflected in promotional materials and events, featuring diverse representations and showcasing the inclusivity of your premises. This sends a clear message that individuals of all abilities are valued and welcome.
Promptly address any discriminatory behaviours or actions, reinforcing your commitment to maintaining a safe and inclusive atmosphere for everyone. Ask for Angela is an initiative that shows a venue will not tolerate discriminatory or predatory behaviours.
Digital Accessibility and Online Presence
Digital accessibility is important to reach a wider audience and ensure inclusivity. Accessible websites and mobile applications can help eliminate barriers for individuals with disabilities, for example by ensuring everyone can access information, make reservations and engage with online promotions.
Digital accessibility includes:
- using responsive design for websites that adapt to different screen sizes and assistive technologies
- providing alt text for images
- implementing keyboard navigation functionality
Online reservation systems that are accessible and user-friendly allow individuals with disabilities to conveniently book visits and plan their leisure and hospitality experiences.
Case Study – Attitude is Everything
Attitude Is Everything is a remarkable charity dedicated to improving accessibility and inclusivity in the night time economy. Through its pioneering work, it has become a leading voice advocating for equal access to live music events, festivals and venues for individuals with disabilities.
Its website serves as a valuable resource, providing information and guidance to event organisers, venue owners and the public on how to create more inclusive spaces. Attitude Is Everything works closely with the music and entertainment industries, offering expert advice and training to ensure that venues and events are accessible to all.
By collaborating with artists, venues and policymakers, Attitude Is Everything has successfully influenced positive change in the industry. Its impactful efforts have not only transformed physical environments but have also led to a shift in attitudes, fostering a more inclusive culture. It offers training, consultancy, accreditation and advice, and has written charters for different night time economy business types to support the development of a more inclusive environment.