Client: Culture Coventry
Task: Access Audit
Date: Spring 2020
This is an art gallery in the historic heart of Coventry. The Client approached us to discuss the possibility of making the venue more accessible and also to look at the process of updating relevant policies and procedures and to create a company accessibility statement. After further discussion with the client, a brief was established, and Oakley Estates undertook a full and comprehensive Access Audit of the venue. The Audit looked at every aspect of the journey through the visitor experience, from the nearby public transport hub through the main entrance, to the café, facilities and into every independent exhibition. This was a large undertaking as the building is very extensive with a varied and complicated layout with many galleries and display spaces. The Audit considered all physical entities affecting how a person experiences the venue, including access routes, surface colours/textures, materials, wayfinding, signage, and acoustics to name a few. However, we also evaluated how the service as a whole and the exhibits were delivered.
There were several areas of concern, one primary aspect being that the reception was in an almost hidden location at the back of the shop, following a convoluted and poorly signed route and not close to the main entrance. The key opportunity for the reception had been taken up with a tourist information desk, again poorly signposted and not linked to the gallery’s service delivery. Following our feedback a new combined ‘Welcome’ point was created, right inside the main entrance, clearly signposted and offering a collection of services relevant to the gallery and also the surrounding visitor attractions. Other changes made were as simple as upgrading the café furniture to fittings with rubber feet, this greatly improved the acoustics and removed excess background noise, reducing stress and confusion for those with sensory impairments.
Other accessibility improvements included redecoration, we had noted that some galleries were pristine in their whiteness, walls, floors, and ceilings, but in being so were very confusing and distressing for those with visual impairments. These galleries now have a carefully considered palette of colours that allow the visually impaired to place themselves safely within the space and gain a clearer perspective. Updates have been made to the website, allowing visitors to plan their journey and day out, giving people a sense of confidence. Overall the venue found the process positive, and many aspects of the audit feedback were considered and adopted. The Client commented that the excel presentation was clear and manageable. They liked the presentation, showing the areas of improvement, workable solutions, and photos, they stated that it gave them a clear format for future planning.