Shaw Trust at Visit Scotland's launch event of their Accessible Tourism Destination Pilot

Shaw Trust at Visit Scotland's launch event of their Accessible Tourism Destination Pilot 30 July 2015

Visit ScotlandShaw Trust was kindly invited to the launch event at  VisitScotland's Accessible Tourism Destination Pilot Project which we attended this month, in a humid yet buzzing Glasgow city centre. Housed in the beautiful interior of the Café Bar at Hutcheson's, the awareness event was attended by many representatives of Glasgow's travel sector. Guests were treated to an inspiring array of speakers including Visit Scotland's own Chris McCoy - Equality Diversity Manager, Hope Gordon, Scotland's Paralympian swimmer, and Euan MacDonald from our friends Euan's Guide.

I've personally attended other events by Visit Scotland and the quality of speakers was not surprising to me at all, nor the level of accessibility provided which, for me personally was excellent thanks to the presence of a very appreciated ENT (Electronic Note Taker) which enabled me to follow what was being said - I am deaf and my lip-reading can only stretch so far during public events.

However, the next speaker to take the stage was Laura Currie, Front of House Manager of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and her talk really inspired me. She mentioned how she herself was motivated by the research and findings presented to her by Visit Scotland on the immense benefits of including disabled customers and tourists.

The facts presented to her were so compelling that immediately she sprang into action to do all she could, with the support of close colleagues, to start the process of developing a living, functional accessibility statement.

Laura could see that this was not simply an invitation to perform a tick-boxing exercise but an opportunity to truly increase the outreach of the Royal Conservatoire to a broader spectrum of stakeholders and students on the world's stage.

Later when I approached her to say hello and compliment her on her speech, she told me that the key to her success was to involve as many people as possible at all levels in the organisation and that she improvised herself as a facilitator in training and preparing front-of-house staff in welcoming disabled visitors and students.

Backed by additional support and research from Visit Scotland, she told me how in a way, she didn't ask permission, she just acted, "self-appointing" herself as a disability champion at the Royal Conservatoire. Looking at me straight in the eye she firmly asserted:

"… because you know Maria, this is important. One day it could be me".

Needless to say, as a disabled person I couldn't have agreed with her more. But also, as an access auditor and in my professional capacity, I really wanted to warmly congratulate her for her drive and belief in inclusion as a way forward that benefits everyone, champions and students, businesses and customers.

The Royal Conservatoire's approach is refreshing, and shows a trend towards more organisations are hearing about the benefits of accessibility, and are acknowledging the consumer power of the Purple Pound.

Well done to Visit Scotland for really driving forward the agenda of Accessible Tourism in the country - we needs events such as these to illustrate the huge incentives for all businesses in including disabled customers.

"Bravo!" I'd say to The Royal Conservatoire. Thanks to Laura's and your staff's belief in inclusion you are even more inspiring as Scotland's beacon of excellence in the arts, drama and creativity.

As a mother of two budding artists wishing to study in Scotland, my hopes for the future of our young Scottish talent are now stronger than ever. Where do my girls apply?"

NB: If you are a business and would like to find out more about the benefits of Access Statements and Inclusive Tourism, please  see www.visitscotland.org, and the home page will take you to the accessible tools page.   

If you wish to contact Visit Scotland please email;  accessible.tourism@visitscotland.com

You will also find all the accessible itineraries for Glasgow here. www.visitscotland.com/holidays/accessible

If you would like to find out more about Access Audits for your premises, offices and retail outlets, please contact Shaw Trust Accessibility Service via: Maria.Zedda@shaw-trust.org.uk

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