A former Queen’s Park High School student is working to make Manchester attractions more suitable for disabled guests.
Steph Williams, of Great Sutton, is on assignment training staff at the city’s Sea Life Centre and LEGOLAND Discovery Centre to support visitors with a range of disabilities including wheelchair users and those with visual or hearing impairments.
The 22-year-old graduate trainee was inspired by a training programme initially developed for tourism body Visit England.
She said: “In my previous role at Sea Life Brighton I was involved in disability awareness training designed specifically for tourism businesses.
“By working directly with the agency Disabled Go who developed that training, we came up with our own unique version which goes way beyond the standard.”
Early results suggest Steph’s initiative has been a success.
Short breaks organiser Emily Jones, who organised a recent visit for young disabled people and their families from Sefton, Liverpool, e-mailed to say the feedback from the group had been ‘brilliant.’
She added: “We appreciate how enthusiastic and understanding all of your staff were during the day.”
The training familiarises staff not only with all the facilities and aids provided for disabled guests, but also coaches them in the right language to use and the appropriate kinds of physical assistance to offer.
Steph added: “It’s all about giving staff the confidence to be able to lend support in the knowledge they are doing it in the right way.
“It might not be obvious unless you’ve been told, for example, that the right way to help someone with a visual impairment is to offer them your elbow.”
Both relatively new attractions, the Sea Life Centre and LEGOLAND Discovery Centre have all the appropriate access and facilities.
Steph said: “That’s important, of course, but making a visit a truly enjoyable experience for a visitor with a disability requires much more than just the right facilities.”