The Real Food Café has committed to making their premises in Tyndrum as welcoming and accessible as possible to customers with disabilities.
Owner, Sarah Heward points out that undertaking the measures towards increased accessibility is not a five-minute job or done on a whim. To do it well, the business has been on a long journey that has seen the investment of time and money over years to become established and recognised as a centre of excellence for those visiting the National Park with disabilities.
Sarah’s passion in this area started through personal experience when her father became incapacitated with a degenerative neurological illness. Her experience looking after her father turned into a stark realisation and learning curve about how difficult travelling and eating out can be for those with disabilities. When she saw a workshop advertised by the National Park on disabled tourism she went along out of curiosity and found there was a whole world of opportunity she had previously been unaware of.
Sarah’s advice is: “If you are serious about welcoming those with disabilities, you need to make a commitment and show your whole team that you mean business! You need to get everyone on board with this. Often the thought of serving people who are disabled can be scary to the uninitiated and especially the untrained. So making the commitment and training the staff are vital from the get go.
“Making an Accessibility Guide for your business is a great start and will show your team and your customers that you are serious.
“Training the team using the VisitScotland Accessible Tourism on line training tool was really helpful in getting the staff confident and skilled up.
“Attending workshops and seminars about disabled tourism is really motivational and informative. Creating a network of like-minded people to ask for advice and support from is invaluable.
“Looking at what the quick wins are to begin with and getting to work on these, will give you some marketing advantages and be a boost for your morale”.
Some of the first steps Sarah’s team took were to make part of the counter lower so wheelchair users could access and pay for their orders, producing large print menus for the partially sighted and adding a red cord into the disabled toilet.
The Real Food Café’s plans for the future include widening access at the entrance door so larger wheelchairs can easily pass through and building a Changing Places toilet in Tyndrum for those who need hoisted onto the loo and collaborating with other local businesses to organise a fantastic Disability Awareness Day 2021!
Go Ape take pride in making their activities accessible to as many people as possible. Manager Steven McGirr noted that “we are about creating adventures and encouraging everyone to live life adventurously. While our courses are designed to be accessible to most people, they do offer a degree of physical and mental challenge. For some persons this may mean that additional equipment, adjustments to our training and/or levels of supervision will be required for safe participation. For some, the residual risks of injury may still be too great despite the implementation of additional measures, preventing their safe use of the course.”
Go Ape’s approach is to support customers and to communicate ahead of their visit on an individual basis. Their website asks customers who think that they will need additional support during your adventure, to get in touch as soon as you can. Steven states that this helps for customers to get the most out of their time at Go Ape. They are happy to take enquiries by phone email or for customers to drop by to see the site and everything that is involved and allows the customer to plan ahead with the team of trained staff.
Go Ape works with a wide range of groups, families, individuals, teams or charities to provide additional support or guidance to help them get the most out of their ‘tree-time’. Where additional companions are utilised to enhance a customer’s experience or make it easier to access, these participants can be provided free of charge.
Other simple adjustments made for customers include communicating with visual aids during the safety briefing and providing online subtitled and translated BSL safety brief films. Amputees are supported through adjustments at site to facilitate safe progress and zip landings. Go Ape can also make arrangements for groups with special needs who may prefer to come on less busy days to allow more time to complete the course without feeling pressured by other groups coming up behind them.