Strawberry Field is aiming to be the UK’s Number 1 attraction for accessibility, thanks to a series of upgraded and innovative features.
Previously a Salvation Army children’s home where John came to play and escape, Strawberry Field is now home to an interactive visitor exhibition, café, shop and gardens. With responsible tourism and well-being at its heart, this award-winning heritage site now leads the way in being accessible to all, with full wheelchair access, tours for the visually impaired and features to support the hard of hearing and other disabilities, as well as a multi-language media guide and a Changing Places toilet facility.
Through research and focus groups, the team have upgraded elements of the visitor experience to ensure that everyone is welcome. Inclusivity is at the forefront of the vision and the upgraded features are now in place, making visiting even easier for wheelchair users and those with visual, hearing and other disabilities. The newly introduced spectacular tour for the visually impaired has had a tremendously enthusiastic response.
Matthew Hughes-Paton, who attended one of the focus groups says:
“I visited Strawberry Field along with three other visually impaired people to give feedback on the audio described tour around the visitor exhibition – we all absolutely loved it.
“Not only was the tour informative and really interesting, but it was great to visit somewhere that really took our needs into account and catered for our varying visual impairments. The tour was fully accessible with tactile elements and lots to listen to.
“I can’t recommend Strawberry Field enough. It is such a warm and welcoming place and I will certainly be telling others who are blind and visually impaired about the audio described tour.”
The unique combination of an experienced tour guide, together with tactile features and an interactive media player brings the experience alive. To help support visitors with hearing disabilities, all video content now has added captions.
Much of the innovative technology has been provided by Imagineear, a world leading developer of multimedia content.
Kathleen Versfeld, Mission Director at Strawberry Field says:
“I am delighted with the progress we have made in making our attraction open to all. It fits well with our ethos within Strawberry Field and The Salvation Army of being totally inclusive. In the next year we hope to provide further facilities with tours for those with Alzheimer’s and autism”
Alongside adaptations such as guided tours, tactile exhibition features, use of colour, layout and several foreign languages, Strawberry Field is one of the first UK attractions to offer Changing Places facilities. Changing Places toilets provide more space and equipment than conventional wheelchair-accessible WCs, to meet the needs of people of all ages who need help to deal with their intimate hygiene.
Chris Stringer, Learning Disability Inclusion Development Manager, The Salvation Army says:
“I am thrilled that the plans we developed for inclusion at the inception of the Strawberry Field project have now come to fruition. It is right for the Salvation Army to be leading the way and we hope and pray that many other attractions will follow”
Responsible tourism is at the very heart of Strawberry Field. Profits from the visitor experience go towards keeping the gates open for good and funding Steps at Strawberry Field, a series of programmes aimed at those with learning difficulties or other barriers to employment.
For more information on Strawberry Field and to purchase tickets to the visitor exhibition, visit www.strawberryfieldliverpool.com/