Portsmouth Dockyard - Part 1

December 7, 2018

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Welcome back (welcome all new viewers). Over the next few months, I'm going to write a series of blog posts about the accessibility at the Portsmouth Dockyard, I will write one for every attraction I visit. On the 16th of November, I looked at the accessibility on the HMS Victory ship, and around the Dockyard and this is my review below...

The people who work there were very kind and let me in to avoid the majority of obstacles by opening the side entrance - I believe they should do this for any wheelchair user. I don't know if they do this for people who have other disabilities, but I think this could help people who are unsteady on their feet as well, because the cobbles and uneven ground could knock them off balance.

The first thing I noticed was the entrance is covered with cobbles. You may not realise this, but something as small as cobbles can affect how accessible venues are. For example; if you use a wheelchair or any other mobility aid, cobbles can make it extremely difficult to get around because wheels can get stuck in-between each cobble, making it awkward to navigate the site. Also, it can be very uncomfortable for wheelchair users to move around because of the constant bouncing up and down.


When I bought my ticket, I felt nervous because I felt that my speech went to pot, but I'm not sure why this happened. The lady who was serving me told me about the wheelchair access options, which was good. Although this was no-one's fault, I think the lady behind the desk who was serving me panicked a little because it felt like she seemed on-edge when she was talking to me. She spoke more to the people I was with rather than to me. She then took my college's address (I think she is meant to take my home address), I think this was because she didn't want to make me speak again, as she felt awkward. I'm not sure why they need my address though.


When I was outside, another man, who was taking tickets came up to me, and started to talk to the people I was with, talking right over the top of me. He didn't even acknowledge me once, it was like I was invisible to him. This really annoyed me! I felt like I wanted to say something like "Oi! I'm here!" It didn't, but being ignored could have knocked my confidence. I'd be interested to find out whether this was because of my speech, or because I use a wheelchair.


When I was looking around HMS Victory, I noticed that inside the ship itself was very dark. This could make visiting difficult for people who are visually impaired. It could also be difficult for people on the Autistic spectrum because some don't like dark environments, but then again, some don't like bright lights, so I'm not entirely sure how they could cater for everyone. I know that there probably isn't much they can do about the lighting because you can't just put windows in a historical ship, but maybe they could install lights around the ship. I'm not sure what's possible and what's not due to the nature of a historic landmark. I also noticed a strong smell; it was almost overpowering! I don't know what it was, but I think it was a horrible smell!


While I was looking around HMS Victory, I was very impressed with one man who works at the Dockyard. He spoke to me nicely and let me take my time to answer him. He was also extremely enthusiastic when he was talking to me. When he was telling me about the cannon and how far they fired, he involved me a lot, he was teaching me about how they placed the gun powder in the cannon, and he told me how they pulled the trigger and then a sharp needle pierced the bag to force the cannon ball out at an extremely fast rate. He also let me feel how heavy the gun powder bag was by placing it on my lap. I was actually quite surprised about how heavy it was! This man kept me engaged, which is always good.


Then he put the video on for me. They have this video for people who can't get onto the top deck, there is no wheelchair access to the top deck, unfortunately. I think that the volume of the video was good, not too loud, and not too quiet. - Some may disagree, but I think it can be altered.


When I visited, it was quite quiet, but I've heard that it can get extremely busy during certain times of the year, like half-terms and other holidays. Some people may not like being there at these times, but again, I don't think the staff can do much about this.


They have a few disabled toilets. You’ll be pleased to know that the toilet that I went in has got a ceiling hoist and a small changing bed, which a lot of people will benefit from. Now, this toilet is fairly small. You would have trouble moving around in here with three people and a wheelchair or any other mobility aid. As for the toilet itself, I noticed that it's extremely low down to the ground. I don't think I would have a problem with this, but some may find it difficult to sit down on and get up from this toilet. I think that the toilet room could be made bigger to allow people to move around easier. I know that this could be easier said than done, but I really think that something needs to be done about the height of the toilet itself because it could be difficult to sit down on and get up from.


In conclusion, and even though I'm not a fan of history or ships, I enjoyed the trip. It made me realise how they really lived on board the ships back in the day.


Thanks for reading, and I hope you come back for the next instalment.

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