Moors Valley to share in National Lottery fund to improve access for people with disabilities (June 2017)

Moors Valley to share in National Lottery fund to improve access for people with disabilities (June 2017)

Moors Valley Country Park & Forest near Ringwood is benefitting from a share in a half-million pound National Lottery-funded scheme to improve access for visitors with mobility and sensory impairments to heritage sites in the south west.

The Heritage Ability scheme, established by Living Options Devon, was awarded £527,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, to build a greater understanding of the barriers experienced by disabled and deaf people when visiting heritage sites in the south west. Moors Valley is one of 18 heritage sites to benefit from the funding.
Moors Valley has already made great strides in improving accessibility and achieved a Gold award for Access & Inclusivity in the 2016 Dorset Tourism Awards.

Led by a team of disabled and deaf volunteers and advisors, the Heritage Ability project includes improving access for people with physical disabilities, establishing British Sign Language as part of each sites’ interpretation and making adaptations to improve experiences for those with autism. By developing tailored ways of working for each site, and providing training for heritage site staff, the project aims to make long-term changes to the accessibility of heritage across the South West.

Katie Davies, Accessibility Champion at Moors Valley, said, “We are really excited to be part of this project. Working with specialist advisers will help us to focus on where we can improve and ensure that we have the right skills and facilities in place to make the countryside as accessible as possible to everyone.

“With this in mind, we want to hear from representatives of local organisations, and individuals with particular access needs, and first-hand knowledge of Moors Valley, who can help us to identify where we can make best use of this great opportunity.”

Diana Crump, CEO at Living Options said: “We would like to thank members of the public whose support for the Heritage Lottery Fund has made it possible for us to bring this project to life. Here at Living Options Devon, we believe that disabled people and those from the Deaf community should have the same life chances as everyone else – this includes being able to access beauty spots and enjoy the scenery, learn about their local wildlife and the history of old and interesting buildings through accessible information. We can’t wait to work with our amazing partner sites to help disabled people enjoy and marvel at their beauty and history.

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Editors’ notes

The three-year Heritage Ability project will focus on:

Making it easier to plan ahead
Being able to plan ahead for a visit can be crucial for people living with a disability. The project will work with each site to improve accessibility guide information on their websites so visitors’ expectations are managed and they feel at ease before a visit.
In addition, the project will work across sites to create a variety of online materials, suitable to meet different disability needs.

Improving interpretation and use of British Sign Language
With support from volunteers, the team will work across the sites to create accessible interpretation, leaflets and guides – including large print formats to suit those with visual impairments and Easy Read formats for people with learning disabilities.
The project will also improve access to stories of each site for deaf people who use British Sign Language. Volunteers will be recruited as BSL film guides to produce film clips for each of the heritage sites which will then be available to download onto personal devices and onto tablets on site. Some of the sites will also benefit from guided BSL tours.

Transforming physical access
Around half of the sites will introduce all-terrain mobility scooters, otherwise known as ‘Trampers’, which will enable visitors with physical disabilities to access  parts of heritage sites that would otherwise be completely off limits to them.

The first 18 sites involved in the project are:
•    Durlston Country Park, Swanage
•    Lulworth Estate
•    Moors Valley Country Park
•    Geevor Tin Mine
•    National Maritime Museum Cornwall, Falmouth
•    National Trust Godolphin
•    National Trust Tin Coast
•    Wheal Martyn Museum, nr St Austell
•    Cockington Country Park, Torquay
•    Kents Cavern, Torquay
•    National Trust Castle Drogo / Woodland Trust Fingle Woods
•    National Trust Killerton
•    Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter
•    Seaton Jurassic
•    Seaton Tramway
•    Seaton Wetlands
•    Forest of Dean
•    National Trust Prior Park, Bath

About Living Options Devon

Living Options Devon is a registered charity (number 1102489) working across the South West to ensure that people with disabilities and Deaf people who use British Sign Language (BSL) can live the lives they choose. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
More information about the project is available from Jessica Holroyd, Engagement and Communications Officer at or on 01392 459222 or Tony Potter, Project Manager for Delivery at or on 01392 459222.
Join the story on social media – visit @HLFSouthWest and @HeritageAbility and use #heritageability and #NationalLotttery

About the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife.  Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #HLFsupported