Southbank Centre Awarded Gold Standard for Accessibility

Posted on 15.12.2017

Southbank Centre Awarded Gold Standard for Accessibility

The Royal Festival Hall. Photograph by Southbank Centre / Katherine Leedale.

Attitude is Everything are very happy to announce that London’s Southbank Centre has been awarded Gold, the highest status on our Charter of Best Practice, for its commitment to making its venues accessible for Deaf and disabled people, including the unveiling of the South Bank’s first Changing Places toilet.

“Toilets are a vital public service and can help to shape the experience of the capital for those who live here and for those visiting. I’m delighted that the Southbank Centre, as one of London’s top cultural destinations, is leading the way on this important issue – helping to ensure the capital is welcoming and accessible to all.” – Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

Southbank Centre is only the eighth venue in the country to be awarded Gold, recognising the outstanding work this iconic cultural centre has undertaken in order to welcome disabled audiences to its world class arts programme and seventeen acre site in central London.

“With their increasing commitment to improving access, be it physical, attitudinal or in their programming, I’m thrilled to see that Southbank Centre has been awarded the Gold Standard for Access by Attitude is Everything. I’ve personally benefited from Southbank Centre’s constant evaluation of their access and provisions for disabled audiences and artists alike.” – Liz Carr, actress and disability rights activist

In order to achieve this award, Southbank Centre had made some big infrastructure changes to improve accessibility, including:

  • The installation of a Changing Places toilet, open to both Southbank Centre customers and the public, which will open up the Southbank Centre’s many venues and the South Bank as a destination to the approximately 230,000 people in the UK who require a Changing Places facility.
  • Renovations to the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room, to be reopened in 2018 with more accessible seats and improved access to them, allowing all customers to use the same accessible entrance.
  • Adaptable accessible seating in the Royal Festival Hall, which will enable the provision of a clear view of the stage during performances where people can stand. This also builds in greater adaptability, allowing wheelchair users to sit together, and the venue to increase the number of accessible spaces if necessary.

Southbank Centre has also made a number of other significant changes including:

  • Fully revising and updating its online information in line with Attitude is Everything’s Access Starts Online guidance.
  • This includes a PDF Access Map and Photo Access Maps showing accessible routes to, and around, the venue.
  • Programming a wide range of accessible performances with adaptations including BSL interpretation, speech to text, audio description, captioning, relaxed performances and touch tours.
  • Work to create a more accessible booking system.
  • A comprehensive new access training scheme for visitor hosts across the centre’s venues.

The award is announced as Southbank Centre opens its first fully accessible Changing Places toilet, a room with tailored design to support people whose needs can’t be met by standard accessible facilities, including those with profound and multiple impairments, some people with learning disabilities and people who require assistance to use the toilet. The first Changing Places toilet in the South Bank area will be open to the public, allowing thousands more people with disabilities to enjoy the attractions along the south of the river, and answers the call from the Mayor of London in his London Plan for toilets that reflect the diversity of the city.

“Without access to Changing Places toilets, over a quarter of a million people who have severe disabilities are faced with a choice of not going out, or being changed on a toilet floor. By building more Changing Places toilets across the capital, we can celebrate a city that is accessible to all.” – Lauren West, Trailblazers Manager at Muscular Dystrophy UK

Elaine Bedell, Chief Executive at Southbank Centre, said: “We are thrilled to be recognised by Attitude is Everything for our work to make our artistic programme even more accessible for every single audience member that we welcome to our site. Accessibility to the arts is one of our top priorities and, with the opening of our new Changing Places toilet, we hope not just to open up Southbank Centre, but the whole South Bank area, to thousands more disabled visitors every year.”

Suzanne Bull MBE, Chief Executive at Attitude is Everything, said: “We are delighted to welcome the Southbank Centre on to our Charter of Best Practice at Gold, the highest level of achievement and one that demonstrates that a venue or festival has shown a continuous commitment to improving access and embracing inclusion for more than 5 years. This iconic destination, encompassing three music venues amongst other key cultural attractions, has invested heavily in accessibility, undertaking significant infrastructure changes in order to be welcoming to everyone, whether they be artists, audiences or employees.”