Access for all?

Disabled access education


“Does he take sugar?” is an old cliché but it did help Avalon Marshes staff think more about visitors, volunteers and staff who are disabled in one way or another. This was all part of a disability awareness training session organised by the Avalon Marshes Landscape Partnership and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. It was led by Martyn Sibley who says of himself: “I am a regular guy who happens to have a disability called Spinal Muscular Atrophy; this means I cannot walk, lift anything heavier than a book or shower myself. My aim is to inspire, inform and change the world around disability issues, by sharing my individual experiences and personal journey.”

After a morning session in the classroom, with lots of interaction, we ventured out to test our improved awareness and for Martyn to test out the Avalon Marshes. First, a visit to the Craft Gallery, then out onto Shapwick Heath. Both were reasonably good but with improvements that can be made and lots of ideas; for example, making more of the Sweet Track trail as a sensory experience for those with impaired vision. Then, using his powered wheelchair, Martyn decided to see how far he could get off the sections of the reserve promoted as being accessible for all! He led the way and we headed off towards Decoy Hide – no, we didn’t make it, it’s too boggy, but Martyn’s energy and positive attitude has invigorated us all to be more aware and to do more. A great day – thank you Martyn.

Some facts and figures Martyn gave us:

  • There are 12.2 million disabled people in the UK
  • 59% have mobility impairment
  • 2 million have sight loss
  • 1.8 million have hearing impairment
  • 12% have a learning disability

Want some more food for thought? Read this

disability education avalon marshes tour disability talk Martyn Sibley

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