On Friday, the 26th of April, I visited the Submarine Museum in Gosport. Even though this is in Gosport, it is a part of the Portsmouth Dockyard. When I arrived, I gave the receptionist the tickets. The staff at the museum were excellent because they spoke to me directly in a welcoming manner, which helped me relax. In fact, all of the staff were brilliant! They arranged for a guide to take me around and talk me through the history of the submarines.
To get on board the submarine, there is a lift going up to a walkway leading to the submarine’s exit. This lift is very small, it holds two people, however if someone had a larger wheelchair or other mobility aids, they would struggle to get in and out. They may not be able to get in there at all, depending on the size of their mobility aids… At the bottom, the door to the lift was at the side, which was fine when I was getting in from the bottom, but when I was at the top, getting in to come back down again, it was difficult because the lift’s door is at the front which meant that I had to manoeuvre my wheelchair to get out and vice versa.
The submarine that I went on is called HMS Alliance. Now, I was able to get into the rear section, but not the rest. The reason why I was unable to get through to the next section was because the entrance to this part had a raised door frame. The door frame was shaped like a squished oval, and it was very small in height and width. I think it only had two or three sections. I could see a mirror right down at the end, I don’t know if there was anything beyond that, but it looked like a door.
In the submarine, there wasn’t much space due to the nature of submarines being narrow. If you can, you would be best to keep your arms still because there are a lot of objects that you can hurt yourself on in the submarine.
As I couldn’t get through the whole of HMS Alliance, the guide talked us through the rest of the submarine. Although he gave us lots of information, he didn’t acknowledge me at all and he spoke in a way that I couldn’t understand because he was using lots of technical words but wasn’t explaining what he was saying. Someone had to explain what he was meaning because I just couldn’t follow.
Similar to other ships that I have visited, the submarine had an extremely strong smell on board. I didn’t like this much.
I then went to visit the ship called Holland I (Holland One). This submarine was located in a separate room. You can go right round Holland I (Holland One), there are lots of information boards dotted around, some were on the walls and some were on information stands. This room was completely accessible, there was a slope that you can go around to go into the submarine. Unfortunately, there was a step into the submarine, so some people may not be able to get in. I could see most of the interior of the submarine from the outside though. I didn’t like it much because I found it very hot in that room. There was a fan in one of the corners on the floor, but I don’t think it helped much.
In the museum, there are lots of interactive things to see and do. There are interactive screens, which you can play games and quizzes on. The screens are at slightly the wrong angle for people in wheelchairs because when you’re sat down (and if you’re not very tall), you aren’t able to see the screen properly. I think this could be improved by putting the screen on an axis allowing the screen to be tilted and moved to fit the person’s needs.
In the interactive section of the Submarine Museum, there is a contraption which you have two mirrors to line up. If you can line the mirrors up correctly, and if you can look down into them, you will see an image. I could not do this because I couldn’t control the turning wheels on the side, and I couldn’t see into the mirrors as a result of it being too high.
When I was looking in the museum, I thought that some of the information boards were very difficult to read due to the colour and contrast. Take this for example, this information board is gold and shiny, with black text. I find it almost impossible to read things like this because I can’t make out what the text says. It would be better if it was on a matt surface, with bigger text.
This was the object that the information board was with. I think it’s a toilet… It looks like one, doesn’t it?
In another section of the Submarine Museum there were cupboards that had things like letters, boxes and beer mugs. The cupboards had gold doors that you can open and close with glass in front of the items. Some people may have difficulties opening these doors, so I think that it might be better if this had a sensor so that the doors would open automatically when someone comes near them. If the doors aren’t serving any purpose apart from holding information boards, then I would suggest removing them all together and putting the information boards somewhere on the wall.
In the Submarine Museum, there was a section where you could see different types of submarine propellers and you have to guess which one would be the most efficient.
To reveal the answer, you have to slide the cover up by using a little, black knob. I wouldn’t be able to do this because I don’t have enough control over my hands. To make this more accessible, I think that it would help if the Submarine Museum attached a motor to the sliding cover and added some sort of button, but not a small button because some people would struggle to press a small button. However, some people may not be able to press any button, so I’m not entirely sure how they would deal with that… Maybe they could add a sensor somewhere to reveal the answer.
While I have been visiting these attractions within the Portsmouth Dockyard and the Submarine Museum, I have thought that it could be difficult for people who are visually impaired to identify what is around them. I don’t know if they already do this, but an audio description aid or guide may benefit people who have visual impairments.
There’s one last thing which I need to mention: There is quite a long track from the car park to the Submarine Museum. This length is too far for some people to travel. There are people who can’t walk or travel that far due to disability or other limitations. Furthermore, there are cobbles and uneven ground, and if people are unsteady when they’re walking, they could fall over the uneven ground. If people use walking frames or walking sticks, the wheels or the ends of the walking frames or sticks could get stuck, and this could be dangerous because they could fall due to the lack of stability. I think that it may be better if there was an accessible transport service for people with disabilities and additional needs to travel from the car park to the museum. This could be an accessible bus or tram.
That’s it for now, we’ve now reached the end of this blog post. Thank you for reading this. I hope you have enjoyed reading it, and I’ll look forward to having you back for my next post.