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18/19 In Review: Accessibility

Posted: 13 December 2019

Creating An Open Festival

As an organisation, we are committed to creating events as accessible as possible. This year marked the pilot year for active efforts in improving access at the Edinburgh Science Festival.

In November 2018 we created a cross-departmental Access Working Group to focus on creating more accessible events, venues and communications across the Festival. New initiatives for this year included relaxed and captioned performances, increased information on our website and relationship building, additional resources such as sensory backpacks, social stories, a portable Changing Places toilet, and complimentary tickets.

Key to improving access at the Science Festival was establishing relationships with a number of different organisations around Edinburgh and beyond. These included initial talks with Euan’s Guide, Visit Scotland, and other Edinburgh Festivals, and information and advice throughout the development and live Festival from Scottish Autism, PAMIS and the Edinburgh Access Panel.

‘The Panel are impressed by Edinburgh Science’s commitment to making the Science Festival as accessible as possible for disabled people. It’s a major annual event for residents and visitors alike, showcasing the capital and its venues. Inclusivity is therefore very important and we were delighted to be invited to help assess accessibility and provide advice and feedback.’

Robin Wickes, Vice Chairman, Edinburgh Access Panel 

We were delighted this year to partner with the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society to offer sensory backpacks and tote bags for free to help make a visit to the Festival more comfortable. Included were fidget spinners, ear defenders and ear plugs, along with gifts in-kind from Scottish Power, Chewigem and Scottish Water.

The feedback received from a number of parents, partners and organisations has been positive and has helped shape the Access Working Group’s focus and understanding for future years.

‘I took my son two years ago to the Science Festival and he didn’t deal very well with how busy it was, so I did not take him last year. This year I read about the additional resources and they were a great success for us. We went three times and he really enjoyed it.’

Parent

Widening access and inclusivity throughout our Festival and all Edinburgh Science projects is hugely important to our organisation. The Access Working Group are looking forward to building upon the initiatives and welcoming more people to the Edinburgh Science Festival in 2020.