Find out the 4 best ways you can boost inclusion at your attraction, for people of all abilities.
Disabilities come in all shapes and sizes - whether it be a physical impairment, that affects your every day accessibility, or a mental health issue, which may cause you to feel uncomfortable at certain events.
We, at the Family Attraction Expo, understand the importance of acknowledging these differences, catering for them in the best way we can. With this year’s annual Disability Awareness Day having come and gone, we’ve decided to focus today’s article on inclusion within the industry.
There are so many ways that family attraction organisations can hop on the inclusion train, but we thought we’d focus on the four simplest ways. By mastering the inclusion of those less able, we’ll take leaps and bounds in destigmatising mental health and disabilities.
1. Train Your Staff
Dealing with disabilities is certainly not something we learn at school, so it’s important your staff receive training that’ll help them to feel at ease. The National Disability Authority (NDA) advocates for all companies to educate themselves in this way, enabling staff to interact more confidently and respectively to those with disabilities.
Amongst other organisations and training programs, our Naidex event specialises around providing businesses with the means to thrive in including one and all. This could be a great starting point to get you immersed in the mindset of inclusivity.
2. Building Accessible Infrastructure
Most family attraction organisations, like zoos and museums, will have ramps and lifts installed for their disabled visitors. That said, making sure that these options are easily accessible could be paramount to ensuring the inclusion of the disabled.
This could be achieved by ensuring that disabled ramps are installed adjacent to small sets of stairs, to reach exhibits throughout the attraction. This way, instead of having to find an accessible ramp or lift, the options are visible.
This level of inclusion may seem simple, but it’ll improve the visitor experience immensely, by making sure that disabled individuals don’t feel left out.
But, inclusion doesn’t have to stop there, as playgrounds are now being built with disabilities in mind. New materials and thoughtful designs are helping to break down the barriers and stigmas associated with disabilities. By catering for people with a range of mental and physical abilities, places like Earl Bales Park in Toronto are now able to open their doors to a huge array of customers.
3. Implementing Interactive Strategies
We must also remember to account for the less visible disabilities, including deafness, blindness, and mental health.
Deaf individuals can get a lot of mental stimulation through family attractions, such as zoos and museums. They can be immersed in a world full of colour, knowledge, nature, and history; nothing is more enriching.
These exhibits themselves are certainly enough to tantalise the senses, but there may be ways in which those without hearing, or with partial hearing, can benefit even more. For example, using sign language alongside tour guides and speakers could really benefit the cause.
Something less common, though, which may set you apart from the rest, is using vibrations to mimic soundwaves produced by, for example, zoo animals. Studies show that deaf people can “hear” vibrations, helping them to experience music and noises. Perhaps zoo exhibits could provide vibrating attractions for the deaf, to help them experience, for example, a lion’s roar.
With a little bit of innovation, you could become an all-inclusive attraction for families with all abilities.
Equally, it’s important to cater for those who may not be able to navigate their way around an attraction as easily as most people, namely blind, or partially-sighted individuals. According to the European Blind Union (EBU), there are around 30 million blind people across the continent.
The most obvious way to help these people out is to implement braille throughout your site. Nonetheless, there are so many other ways you can excite and intrigue those who can’t see, through focusing on their other senses.
Consider the impact your company could have on the lives of, particularly, blind children, by opening up their world to the unique possibilities a blind attraction could offer. Think smells, noises, and feelings, and you can create a unique, interactive exhibit, to include everyone.
Pioneering the way here is the St. Andrew’s church, in Helpringham, who opened up a sensory art exhibit, which utilised textiles, wools, and fibres to produce an exciting, and inclusive, experience. By following their lead, you too could support the blind.
4. Mental Health Strategies
The Mental Health Foundation recognises the importance of bringing mental health issues to the forefront, especially considering that 1 in 6 adults experience a common mental health problem at some point during their life. That being said, one of the lesser discussed mental health problems is that of PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
PTSD is much less common than problems, such as anxiety and depression, and only around 8 percent of adults will experience it within their lifetime. Considering this minority, many people are uneducated about the needs of those suffering from PTSD.
A recent incident, when Marine Corps Veteran, Nicholas “Nic” Day, was turned away from a hotel due to his emotional support dog, demonstrates this perfectly. This event is not an isolated incident, showing how the industry has a long way to go in understanding, and catering for, invisible disabilities.
The Ingleside Hotel, in Waukesha, Milwaukee, may act as an inspiration to organisations who wish to branch out in their inclusion. They have opened their doors to dog-kind, not just providing holiday opportunities for your furry friends, but also, and inadvertently, catering for emotional support and service dogs.
By joining the Ingleside Hotel in opening your attractions up to pets, you could be helping people with these hidden issues to join in with the family fun.
The Solutions Are Simple...
Just a little bit of careful thought and innovation could help you lead the way to an inclusive future for all. This way, we can beat the stigma associated with illnesses and disabilities, joining everyone together, as one.
If you think you might be able to provide the equipment or training to help attractions become more inclusive, please do get in touch to set up an exhibitor stand at our Family Attraction Expo. It’s taking place on 6th-7th November 2019, at the NEC Birmingham in the UK, so please contact our Event Director, Oliver Hayes, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call +44 (0)117 929 6087, for more information.
Alternatively, if you’re an industry expert, and would simply like to find out more about what we have to offer, we also have free tickets available. We look forward to meeting you!