Nerve Centre Access Policy

1. Introduction

    1. The Nerve Centre is committed to ensuring and encouraging access for everyone, regardless of ability, age, gender, cultural or social background, sexual orientation, faith, location or wealth. This is achieved by minimising or removing the barriers that can prevent people from engaging with the Nerve Centre venue, events, exhibitions, learning programmes, website, social media channels, and staff.
    2. This is accomplished within the limitations of the building and other resources, to offer the broadest, richest and most engaging access for all users. The Nerve Centre recognises that access is a complex issue that must be addressed through the actions of the organisation as a whole, and that accessible provisions have much wider benefit to people generally, not just those with specific access requirements. Access is improved by addressing issues identified in audience reports and visitor / participant surveys.
    3. The purpose of this policy is to set out the Nerve Centre’s commitment to maximising access and to identify the ways in which we achieve this across the organisation.

2. Visitor Services and User Needs

      1. This policy covers provision at the Nerve Centre, through our venue, buildings, events, exhibitions, learning programmes, website, social media channels, online activities, and other venues and in other venues where we deliver outreach programmes. This policy relates to access by users and does not cover access in relation to staff, volunteers, freelancers or contractors.

3. Definition of terms

3.1 When we refer to access we mean the opportunity to engage with our buildings, events, exhibitions, resources and activities. There are a number of key barriers to access:

Physical/sensory – e.g. people with physical, hearing or visual impairments and neurodiverse people may not be able to access the Nerve Centre, website, social media channels or learning programmes

Intellectual – e.g. some may find the Nerve Centre too specialist in its approach to subjects and how they are presented; have learning disabilities or have neurodiverse conditions which affect their ability to engage with the Nerve Centre

Attitudinal – e.g. some people may lack awareness of the Nerve Centre or lack interest or confidence in the Nerve Centre, its displays/exhibitions, programmes and facilities

Cultural – e.g. some people may feel that the Nerve Centre is not relevant to them and does not reflect their cultural or social heritage, or their interests

Economic – e.g. some people may not be able to afford to visit the Nerve Centre or take part in its programmes

Geographic – e.g. some people will live too far away to visit the Nerve Centre or have access requirements that prohibit them from physically visiting the Nerve Centre.

4. Responsibilities

4.1 The Chief Executive and members of the Executive Team are responsible for ensuring that the Nerve Centre meets its obligations under equality legislation by doing everything reasonably possible to make the Nerve Centre accessible to the widest range of people.

4.2 Heads of department are responsible for ensuring that the work of their colleagues takes account of the need to maximise access by addressing the barriers outlined above.

4.3 Every member of staff involved in developing, delivering or maintaining spaces, activities, resources and other services for our users is responsible for making them as accessible as possible.

5. Policy

5.1 The Nerve Centre is committed to maximising access by upholding the statutory requirements within the Disability Discrimination Act (1995) by taking reasonable steps to ensure that policies, practices and procedures do not discriminate against disabled people; by providing appropriate facilities and services which enable disabled people to use the Nerve Centre. Nerve Centre is committed to maximising access by, for example:

Physical access

  • Ensuring that level access is provided to public spaces
  • Ensuring that the Nerve Centre building and learning spaces are accessible to wheelchair users
  • Providing permanent and portable seating throughout the building
  • Providing wheelchair accessible spaces
  • Offering on request assistance for wheelchair users

Sensory access

  • Providing front-of-house staff who have the awareness and confidence to successfully communicate with and provide appropriate information to people with visual or hearing impairments or neurodiverse visitors
  • Ensuring visitors can contact us via phone or email
  • Ensuring that exhibition spaces have large print guides that include all informational and interpretive text throughout and ensuring these are available to download from our website
  • Ensuring that exhibition audio guides contain audio described content and that printed transcripts are available
  • Where possible ensuring that video-based exhibits have subtitles if they use the spoken word
  • Providing where possible sensory maps of the building and producing sensory maps and visual stories for key exhibitions
  • Providing relaxed openings of key exhibitions and events for neuro-diverse visitors and those on the autistic spectrum
  • Ensuring that our website meets the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) standard as far as possible

Intellectual access

  • Providing effective wayfinding signage and maps
  • Ensuring that we interpret displays and exhibitions through gallery guides, extended labels, large print labels, audio guides, catalogues and live interpretation
  • Ensuring that the content and delivery of our learning programmes are tailored to the learning needs of their audiences
  • Seeking opportunities to provide tailored programmes for young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)
  • Providing relaxed openings of our exhibitions and events for neuro-diverse visitors and those on the autistic spectrum

Attitudinal access

  • Ensuring that we promote and present the Nerve Centre as a welcoming and inclusive organisation
  • Ensuring comprehensive information about our access facilities, resources and programmes is easily available on our website
  • Ensuring that visitors are made to feel welcome on arrival and are put at their ease
  • Ensuring there is a dedicated email and phone line for people enquiring about our accessible facilities, resources and programmes
  • Creating environments and activities in which people can feel comfortable, valued and able to learn at their own pace and level e.g. free creative workshops for young people with autism

Cultural access

  • Making the Nerve Centre and its programmes as relevant as possible to our culturally and socially diverse society

Economic access

  • Ensuring where possible free access to learning programmes and creative activities
  • Ensuring programmes are designed with economic barriers to participation, such as travel costs, in mind
  • Where charges apply, offering concessions where possible (while ensuring the Nerve Centre’s financial sustainability)

Geographic access

  • Providing a rich online experience and online activities that ensure variety and choice
  • Providing online resources that ensure opportunities for a range of people to engage with the Nerve Centre’s output

6. Related policies, legislation and guidance

6.1 The law in Northern Ireland protects people from discrimination on a number of specified grounds, namely:

  • age
  • disability
  • gender reassignment
  • marital or civil partnership status
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • racial group
  • religion or belief
  • political opinion
  • sex
  • sexual orientation

6.2 Legislation relevant to this policy includes Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA)

7. Queries

7.1 Enquiries about this policy should be directed to the Chief Executive.