VisitEngland has launched a new version of its online Access Statement Tool, designed to help operators cater for guests with accessibility needs.
Created in partnership with the British Hospitality Association, the tool provides detailed guidance on the information that may be required by people with access needs when visiting a restaurant or café.
Ross Calladine, VisitEngland's skills, welcome and accessibility manager, said: "People with access needs require specific information about a venue in advance in order to be able to make an informed decision about whether an establishment can cater sufficiently for them. Restaurants, like any other tourist venue, should provide as much information to visitors as possible - this will help to enhance the visitor experience and also highlight areas where the business could improve."
In order to furnish the potential guest with as much useful information as possible, businesses are encouraged to write an introduction describing their location, and to summarise any specific services and facilities suitable for people with access needs. In addition, an access statement should cover the following areas:
Restaurant and Bar Area - access to the area and layout, lighting, seating and tables, floor surfaces, alternative formats of menus available.
â- Pre-Arrival - transport services, a description of the streets in the area surrounding the restaurant (eg, paved/cobbled/level/uneven), information provided in alternative formats such as large print and audio.
â- Car Parking and Arrival - car parking, drop-off points, alternative entry points, number of steps, handrails and ramps.
â- Outdoor Areas - accessibility of outdoor furniture, service offered to customers in outdoor area, layout (eg, pavement, terrace, play area).
Once a business has created their Access Statement they can then make this information readily available to visitors. Restaurants can promote their statement on their website if they have one, or post it where they have a listing on a company site or a generic "restaurant finder" site. It should also be kept on hand for staff to use when describing over the phone what facilities they have.
For more information see www.visitengland.org/accessstatements.
By James Stagg
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