With its busy streets, and narrow, step-strewn Victorian buildings, London’s not always the most accessible of destinations. But big efforts have been made to attract disabled visitors. Visit London, the capital’s tourist body, has an ‘Accessible London‘ section on its website that gives information and advice on everything from how to navigate the transport system, to where to find disabled toilets. There’s also a guide (created with Disabled Go) on places to eat, stay and which attractions cater best for disabled visitors.
Like any large city, people who are visually impaired, deaf, or in a wheelchair find it difficult to navigate London’s bad parking, roadworks and throngs of pedestrians. It’s better than many places though. I just spent a day in Paris, and on a cursory glance around, it looked as though the French capital might be even more of an obstacle course than London for disabled people.
And there are plenty of interesting places to visit in London, which have accessible buildings. The Visit London/Disabled Go guide features a list of the top 10 London attractions searched by people wanting to find out more about disabled access. The list include Wembley Stadium, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge and four of our favourite places:
ZSL London is home to an incredible variety of animals: big cats (with a new Land of the Lions exhibit), lemurs, komodo dragons and many more species of birds, mammals and reptiles. Despite the fact that the zoo is 170 years old and contains 12 listed buildings, most of it is accessible for wheelchair users and those with walking difficulties. Unfortunately, guide dogs aren’t permitted.
Tate Modern is housed in the former Bankside Power Station and opened in 2000. The UK’s largest collection of modern art is a relatively recent development, with a new wing just opened, so it’s relatively accessible by London standards. There’s detailed information about ramps, lifts and handrails at each of the five entrances on the Tate website.
Tate Modern welcomes guide dogs, with a drinking bowl available at the cloakroom. Wheelchairs and electric scooters are available with pre-booking, and there are audio guides, audio described tours, a hearing loop in some areas and BSL talks.
The Natural History Museum holds the first T-rex fossil ever found, as well as an Iguanadon skeleton and a Triceratops skull. It also premiers images from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.
For people with visual impairment, there are audio descriptive guides for the Treasures exhibition in the Cadogan Gallery and the Volcanoes and Earthquakes gallery. Tactile and Braille books, and large-print gallery guides are also available.
The British Museum’s main entrance is impressive: a Greek Revival quadrangle with awe-inspiring colonnades. Inside, its collection reflects the country’s internationally focused history, with exhibits from around the world including the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon sculptures and the mummies in the Ancient Egypt collection.
The entrance has 12 steps, but there are self-operable lifts on both sides. There are some disabled parking spaces outside the museum, and you can borrow a wheelchair for gallery viewing. Most galleries and all special exhibitions are fully accessible.
Have you visited any accessible London attractions? Or any that were not so good for people with accessibility needs?