In the spirit of upcoming Purple Tuesday on 12 November – an international day calling for a better customer experience for disabled people – we’re shining a light on Bristol venues that provide stand-out accessibility.

Our venue finding service will always match you with spaces that meet your exact accessibility requirements. But for now, here are a handful of venues we work with to give you a taster of the diverse offering – from the world’s first great ocean liner to city centre hotels with first-class conference facilities.

Watershed

Comprised of a large event space, cinema and seminar rooms, and a café and bar, this creative waterfront venue goes above and beyond to provide the best accessibility possible. They’ve worked with deaf artist David Ellington as part of the Agents for Change programme to improve their offering for the deaf community and their front facing staff are trained in basic BSL and deaf culture.

As well as a customer lift for access to the first floor, lifts to the back of two of the cinema rooms ensure every visitor can access both the back and front of the screens. There is an induction loop in all areas of the building for people that require it, and guiding services and welcome assistance dogs to the building can be arranged.

Venue hire at Watershed

Image credit: Watershed

Over the last year, Watershed has coined the term Horizontal Cinema after working with Raquel Maseguer, a resident in their Pervasive Media Studio who has chronic pain and chronic fatigue. They now offer the opportunity to lie down on a yoga mat or bean bag in any screenings, allowing everyone to enjoy the experience in a way that suits them. Since they actively encourage a more relaxed environment, it’s the perfect space if you want to do the same during your event.

Brunel’s SS Great Britain

A historic ocean liner might not be the first place that comes to mind for an accessible event venue, but Brunel’s SS Great Britain is renowned for its efforts to make visiting possible for everyone, whatever their needs. All areas are accessible to disabled visitors and the venue has compiled The Great Western Dockyard Companion, a handy guide with detailed plans and access information for the whole ship. There is also a Virtual Accessible Map complete with additional sensory information about the site, including sound clips, so guests can get a good feel for the space and know what to expect before they arrive.

Shakespeare Room at Being Brunel, SS Great Britain

Image credit: Brunel's SS Great Britain

Holiday Inn Bristol City Centre

The Holiday Inn City Centre is a sought-after conference venue that’s located in a central spot on Bond Street and is committed to offering a seamless experience for disabled visitors. All public areas and meeting spaces in the hotel are accessible for wheelchair users and hearing loops can be arranged in every meeting room.

Some of the other features worth noting are the fire sound and visual alarms in corridors as well as in the six spacious accessible bedrooms at the hotel; guests with hearing and/or visual impairment are given a vibrating alarm. There are lifts from concierge to all floors and a wheelchair lift from the NCP car park (which has plenty of disabled spaces) to concierge on the ground floor.

Meeting room at Holiday Inn Bristol City Centre

Image credit: Holiday Inn Bristol City Centre

Future Inns Bristol Cabot Circus

The Conference and Events Centre at Future Inns extends across the entire top floor of the hotel, delivering unbeatable views over Cabot Circus and the rest of Bristol. In spite of its 6th floor location, the centre is completely accessible, thanks to lift access, wide doors on the whole level and fully accessible toilets.

Add an overnight stay to your event here and know there is a choice of accessible double rooms, both on the ground floor and on higher floors in front of the lifts. They each have a double bed and sofa bed, a spacious layout that’s easy to move around, and a large wet room. Meanwhile, free disabled parking bays behind the hotel offer direct access to the lobby.

Future Inns Bristol Cabot Circus

Image credit: Future Inns

Bristol SU/Anson Rooms

Revamped back in 2015, the Richmond Building on Queens Road in the leafy suburb of Clifton is home to Bristol SU. The venue has a variety of meeting, theatre, activity and exhibition spaces and is fully accessible, with lifts going to all rooms in the building.

In the Winston Theatre, wheelchair users are given key seats during productions or events in the back row with lighting for them to exit at any time and a lift going to these seats. Over in adaptable conference space the Anson Rooms, there is a platform for wheelchair access during gigs and the stage is also accessible to wheelchair users.

The SU team are always ready and willing to do their very best to accommodate individual needs – you’re encouraged to contact them in advance to discuss any specific requirements. 

Seating and stage at Bristol SU

Image credit: Bristol Students' Union

Bristol Accessible Venues Group 

Accessibility is ever improving at Bristol’s many arts and culture venues, and credit goes to the Bristol Accessible Venues Group for much of the progress. The group was started a few years ago between Watershed and Colston Hall and members are now made up of 13 different venues across the city including Tobacco Factory Theatres, Bristol Hippodrome, We The Curious, Bristol Museums, Bristol Old Vic and St George's.

Operational staff from the venues get together throughout the year to discuss accessibility in their venues, sharing best practice, challenges, contacts and organising talks and training from relevant organisations. This adds up to a more welcoming, understanding and enhanced experience in the city for any of your guests who may have access issues.  

Event in Winterstoke Hall at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

Image credit: Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

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