OpenBritain: A to Z of Accessible Britain Online & Off

Last week I was avidly following cryptic 140 character messages on Twitter announcing that Tourism for All (AKA @tourismforalluk) would be holding a […]

Last week I was avidly following cryptic 140 character messages on Twitter announcing that Tourism for All (AKA @tourismforalluk) would be holding a Launch on Thursday 17th March at the House of Commons, no less. Being the nosy so and so that I am, I sent a quick tweet (message) asking what was being launched and was told that all would be revealed after the event. It all sounded very hush hush! ; )

Tourism for All launch tweet: Launch at House of Commons on 17th March at 10am

For those of you who haven’t come across the great work of Tourism for All. Here’s a quick intro. Tourism for All UK is “a charity supporting leisure and tourism opportunities for all, working with older and disabled people, industry and government”.

OpenBritain logo

The following day, as promised, all was revealed and it certainly didn’t disappoint! A sign-language flash mob had descended on the House of Commons to mark the launch of the website, a Tourism for All initiative, which is working to make the UK’s accessibility information available online on an open platform. For more information read here.
Attitude is Everything logo
All of this interested me greatly, as I’m a firm believer that information plays an extremely important role in making the world a more accessible place. As they say, information is power! Using an example from my own life, for quite some time I thought that I could no longer go to music gigs as I was unable to stand for more than a few minutes at a time. This all changed when I came across the fantastic work of Attitude is Everything, who are working to improve deaf and disabled people’s access to live music. Unfortunately I am still restricted by the lack of accessibility/provision in some venues, but at least with the right information I can make an informed decision based on this.

Of course, information alone cannot improve access but when used in partnership with Inclusive Design principles (AKA Universal Design or Design for All), the results can be refreshingly accessible. Even without a fully accessible venue, sadly they still do exist! : ( information can go a long way in helping to either think outside the box to find a solution or just avoid it like the plague and take your business elsewhere. Either way, information really can make a huge difference!

Now back to Tourism for All and its OpenBritain project…

Not only has Tourism for All been busy working on their OpenBritain online platform, but each year they also publish a book described as “the definitive travel guide to accessible Britain”. This guide is aimed at visitors to the UK who have access needs. The 400 page guide includes assessed places to stay, accessible restaurants, ideas for where to go, travel advice, information resource contacts, as well as maps and indexes. The guide has been conveniently divided into three areas, to make it easier to find the area you’re interested in; England, Scotland and Wales with England being further split into nine separate regions. Each entry, be it accommodation, restaurant or tourist attraction, has been chosen for meeting accessibility standards (more explained in the book) and uses symbols including those from the National Accessible Scheme (NAS) to give clear information at a glance on access and more general facilities. Interested and want to find out more? Then you can buy your own copy here.

* Giveaway *

We’ve got a copy of OpenBritain 2011 to give away to a member of our community, so to be in with a chance just tell us why we should send it to you. All we ask is that you give the OpenBritain 2011 travel guide a test drive and let us know what you think by writing a review for the Enabled by Design website to share with the rest of the community.

Either email us at: [email protected]

Tweet us at: @enabledby

Or add a comment below this blog post or on our Facebook page.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Team EbD x

PS. All entries must be received by Friday 8th April 2011.