Some of the best attractions for people with disabilities
London is home to some enviable attractions, but what with the large crowds and age of some of the buildings it can be difficult for people with disabilities to enjoy the full experience.
The good news is that the capital’s hotspots are becoming more and more accessible, with many venues making a concerted effort to attract a diverse crowd. We’ve profiled five of the most enlightened.
With breathtaking 360 views of the city, the London Eye is one of the capital’s most popular attractions. Thankfully, people with disabilities are not excluded from the fun. The Southbank landmark is fully accessible to wheelchair users (if necessary, staff will even stop the wheel to allow disabled guests on) and carers can come on free of charge. There are also disabled toilets on site.
Central London may be home to some lovely parks but you will have to head out to West London’s Kew Gardens to sample some real botanical wizardry. There is so much to see and do at Kew it can be tempting to imagine that it is not a disability-friendly location; thankfully, it is. Free entry is offered to deaf and partially sighted visitors while mobility scooters and wheelchairs are available free of charge, allowing guests to explore the site’s ample gardens, galleries and lofty Treetop Walkways (eek!). Kew’s Discovery Programme tours offer guided assistance to those with “sensory and mobility difficulties”.
The British Museum is home to some of the world’s most treasured artefacts – such as the Rosetta Stone and Parthenon sculptures – and like many of London’s museums is free to enter. It makes a great effort to encourage disabled visitors, from the little touches such as providing casts of the Elgin Marbles for blind visitors through to more essential facilities such as lift access and free parking. Audio descriptions of the works are also available.
A trip to this historic open-air theatre offers an immersive experience for all, with lively performances of some of the bard’s greatest works and much more besides (there is also an exhibition space and restaurant on site). The Bankside theatre can be accessed via a ramp so there’s little cause for concern for wheelchair users. Deaf or partially sighted visitors will be equally heartened to learn that audio-described, signed and captioned performances are an option. Just give them a ring on their dedicated “access line” before visiting to make sure your requirements can be met.
Buckingham Palace is the first port of call for many sightseers – the chance to nosy around the Queen’s less-than-humble abode proving too good a chance to miss. Despite having many staircases and hundreds of rooms, the palace caters well for disabled visitors. There is a separate step-free entrance at the gates where you can borrow a mobility scooter or wheelchair if necessary – though, as with the disability parking spaces these must be pre-booked. Two lifts are handily placed within the premises.