The Crown Estate launches in depth guide to help disabled customers plan their visit
For many disabled consumers it is important to know how accessible a location is before they decide to visit it, particularly when navigating the many ins an outs of a retail destination. Having the lay of the land can help streamline the process, which is why the AccessAble platform was born: an online visual map which gives a clear picture of what to expect when visiting a destination.
AccessAble, known previously as DisabledGo, is one of the most popular sources of accessibility information. The platform has surveyed tens of thousands of venues across the UK and Ireland, and produced accessibility guides with information about accessible toilet facilities, parking, walking distances, door widths, colour contrast, seating, and public transport with all the relevant facts, figures, and photographs.
At the beginning of the year, The Crown Estate announced a partnership with AccessAble, launching a new series of detailed accessibility guides for a number of its regional retail parks and shopping centres. The guides for each of The Crown Estate’s assets are now available for free on the AccessAble website, via the AccessAble app (available on Android and Apple) and on the destinations websites.
Community investment manager at The Crown Estate, Deborah Clark, explains that they wanted to make sure that everyone visiting our places has a positive experience, and part of this means making sure they are as inclusive and accessible as possible.
“AccessAble brings specialist expertise in surveying places, ensuring factual, clear information is available for visitors, and also recommending adjustments that support our journey to achieve our ambition,” she says, adding that they also plan to work with other disability organisations, including Purple, to give them a breadth of expertise and opportunities to learn.
The new guides for The Crown Estate’s destinations, including MK1 shopping and leisure park, Queensgate and Rushden Lakes, provide everything a guest may need to know about what they will find, so people can plan their journeys with confidence. The guides look at everything from car parking provisions to toilet and changing facilities, music volume levels, seating, and floor surfaces, alongside photographs of all areas on site so that visitors can become familiar with the site prior to their visit.
Clark says that the work by AccessAble has been vital in helping to identify areas where improvements can be made to become more accessible, and suggesting ways in which to do this: “We are constantly learning about accessibility, and appreciate that not all our schemes are at the level of accessibility we want them to be at, but with the help of AccessAble and other partners we’re working to get there.”
Alongside making to changes to the physical environment, The Crown Estate also has partnered with Purple, to evolve their websites and ensure they are as accessible as possible. They are also reviewing their approach to recruitment working with specialist disability recruiter Evenbreak to ensure job adverts do not present barriers to people with disabilities and to advertise on a disability jobs board.
Clark adds: “Creating accessible places is really important to us because it ensures everyone can visit and enjoy our places with ease and confidence. A lot of our customers recognise the importance of this agenda too so in the future we’d like to find ways to share knowledge and inspire future collaboration and change.”
This story was originally published in Retail Destination Fortnightly