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BiCon 2008: Access Report
Layout of this report
This report has not been laid out by 'disability type' as everyone's needs are different and a lot of information is relevent to people with different needs. Most of the issues covered relate to mobility or fatigue impairment and wheelchair accessibility.
The report contains the following sections:
If you have any further questions not clearly answered in this report please email Natalya on firstname.lastname@example.org who will get an answer to you. This document may be updated as a result of questions received.
Transport to venue
Leicester is a city in the East Midlands, and has good public transport and car links throughout the UK. All platforms at the railway station have lifts between the platforms and main entrance of the station.
Natalya does not recommend the bus from the railway or bus stations for anyone with mobility issues or heavy bags as it drops passengers at Stoughton Drive South which is (500-750 metres) 10-15 minutes walking distance from Gilbert Murray Hall. The fare for both the black cabs and local minicabs from the railway station is approximately £6-7.
Approach to site
Attenders should arrive at the main Gilbert Murray Conference Suite just off Manor Road. The Gilbert Murray Conference Suite is where all daytime and evening activities will take place. Car park A is less than 30 metres from the main entrance to the Gilbert Murray Conference Suite. There is a concrete ramp (wide enough for a large power wheelchair) into the building with concrete edging and handrails. There is an alternative entrance round the side of the building with a ramp which we are unlikely to use. The main-entrance ramp has a gradient of 1:11 or 1:12. The side-entrance ramp gradient information is unavailable; the venues assures BiCon that it complies to DDA standards...
Pathways and distances
The main pathways to all flats are flagstones or tarmac - which are mostly even and level. Some of the tarmac paths are a few centimetres above the grass level and have very little edging which may prove difficult for visually impaired users. There are additional stepping-stone style paths across the grass which are not recommended for wheelchair users or those with mobility difficulties. As the site was visited during the day the lighting has not yet been assessed.
The accommodation is in Bowder Court and Gilbert Murray flats which are immediately adjacent to the Gilbert Murray Conference Suite building. The furthest flats such as Bowder Court block II or Gilbert Murray Lowesby block are no more than 300 metres (two-three minutes at average walking speed) from Car Park A.
There are four main car parks available for BiCon attenders' use, labelled on the map as A, B C and D. Car Park D with has spaces for 50 vehicles; is furthest from the daytime parts of the venue and nearest to both sets of accommodation. Most BiCon attenders will be asked to park there. Car Park A has spaces for 15 vehicles and is closest to the Gilbert Murray Conference Suite's main entrance. Car park A will be reserved for attenders with mobility disabilities. Car Parks B and C are near the daytime space and have spaces for 20 vehicles between them and may be reserved or prioritised for people arriving and registering.
Bowder Court block DD has two disabled parking spaces for users of the adapted bedrooms there. The nearest parking to the Gilbert Murray adapted flats is Car Park D. There are dropped kerbs in places between parking and paths/pavements. Some attenders may have difficulty carrying their stuff between Car Park D and some of the accommodation. The BiCon 2008 will be asking for volunteers to act as gophers to assist anyone (carrying bags, opening doors) upon request - especially during peak arrival and departure times. If you are likely to need this assistance letting BiCon know in advance is helpful to the organisers. If you can offer to help lift and carry things the BiCon 2008 team would love to hear from you.
Public areas - workshop rooms and social space
There are no lifts in any of the buildings or accommodation that BiCon is using. All of the publicly accessible daytime and evening space will be on the ground floor of the Gilbert Murray Conference Suite. The first-floor will be off limits to BiCon attenders. There are two sets of toilets in the Gilbert Murray Conference Suite; one by the main entrance and the other off the main hall. Both have wheelchair accessible toilets.
All the interior doorways are wide enough to admit access to a wheelchair user using a power-chair. Some of the doors are double doors which will both need opening. Some workshop rooms have a foyer area between two doorways - all are wide enough for a power-chair's turning circle. The doorway dividers of internal doors are fairly flat, some of the main entrance dividers may be slightly more difficult to cross. The flooring throughout the Gilbert Murray Conference Suite is hard-wearing office carpeting. The main hall has a varnished wooden floor.
There may be an entrance/exit at the side of the Social Space to outside areas; these are level and wheelchair accessible. There are two ramps of moderate gradient down from the social spaces in the bar area to the main hall where the evening entertainments and workshop rooms will be.
The five workshop rooms are all accessed through the Main Hall which will have some seating and any community fair or social space during the day. The workshop rooms have capacities of 30-45 people and some can be joined for larger workshops. All of the rooms have curtains to block outside light and standard office fluorescent lighting.
There are two rooms suitable for 'quiet space' or children's space (Howard and Livingstone rooms). These are near the entrance to the Gilbert Murray Conference Suite where the main registration desk will be. They are furthest from the noisiest part of the evening entertainments and will have comfortable appropriate furniture in them. As there are no smaller rooms suitable for first aid or counselling there may be a need to double up one of the rooms' functions.
Registration and flexible arrangements
The more advance notice we have of attender's needs the more likely we are to be able to accommodate them. Where resources are limited they will be allocated on a first come first served basis. We will upload the Bicon handbook in word and PDF formats prior to BiCon and upon request can provide a large-print copy if requested in advance. Any information you supply to the BiCon team will be kept confidential.
The registration desk will be in the corner of the main Foyer. Accommodation keys are to be collected from venue staff who have an office at the key collection point. Chairs will be provided for people to wait prior to being able to register as despite their best efforts to minimise this the BiCon team anticipates some queues during peak registration times.
After registration, normally there is a cluster of people making their BiCon badges; to prevent overcrowding this year all the badge making facilities will be moved away from the immediate registration area to the social spaces. During busy periods registered-attenders may be asked to move into the social spaces to keep the foyer as clear as possible for people registering.
There will be tall stools plus tall tables; solid wooden chairs and tables; low standard padded chairs and folding chairs throughout the main venue. We will be able to move these around as we require throughout the weekend. If you have any seating requirements for workshops or plenaries please let us know in advance and we will do our best to accommodate you.bicon2008.org.uk
There are no electrically operated doors in the accommodation blocks on the Oadby Campus. Some of the doors may be difficult to operate for people with manual dexterity, strength or fatigue issues. The locks appear to be good repair so are unlikely to be changeable. During the times that the BiCon registration desk is open attenders can ask for a volunteer-gopher to provide assistance. Outside of BiCon registration desk hours the venue's security staff will be happy to provide assistance to any BiCon attender. We will ensure contact details for the BiCon registration desk and venue security are placed at the entrance to each accommodation block.
There are two adapted rooms in Gilbert Murray flats (One each in Withcote and Westow blocks). There are additional wheelchair-accessible rooms which may be more accessible in the John Foster or New Hall across Manor Road a few hundred metres away from the rest of BiCon space.
The Gilbert Murray adapted-flats are situated on the corner of two other corridors with their own roll-in/walk-in wheelchair accessible bathroom facilities and share kitchen facilities with the non-adapted rooms on the same floor. Natalya has concerns about the accessibility of the Gilbert Murray adapted rooms due to the location of a staircase which makes the manoeuvrability tight. The locks on the external doors are too high for someone to reach from a wheelchair-seated position. The flats adapted for deaf or hard of hearing attenders are the same as the wheelchair accessible flats. Natalya will need to contact the venue to clarify which ones they are.
The BiCon team were not permitted access to any of the adapted bedrooms during the site visits as it was term-time and they were in use by students. There are no lifts to upper floors, so wheelchair users cannot access any floors other than the ground floor. A small manual chair would fit into the standard flats but manoeuvrability is likely to be tight. The flats are two to three stories high, having ground, first, second and occasionally third floor rooms. BiCon uses the British convention for naming floors: The entrance level is 'ground floor', up one flight of stairs is 'first floor' and so on.bicon2008.org.uk
Requesting accessible roomsIf you request a wheelchair or deaf accessible room the BiCon team will do their best to match your access needs with the rooms available. We will contact everyone who makes access requests to ensure we can do its best for attenders with the facilities available. Please be aware that if the four main adapted rooms become booked up or you require a more accessible room than can be provided in Gilbert Murray or Bowder Court that the venue needs the BiCon team to reserve rooms at the John Foster Hall (200m away across a road) as soon as possible to guarantee provision. The venue will provide us with a detailed flats plan so we can do our own room allocations.
We estimate that there are 30-45 ground floor rooms available in both standard (Gilbert Murray) and en-suite (Bowder Court) types of accommodation. We need to prioritise allocation of ground floor rooms for access reasons; however friends of ground floor/adapted flat users will have second priority. If you have requested a ground floor or adapted flat and wish to be able to access friends' flats, please ask your friends to request a ground floor room as a "friend of someone with groundfloor access needs". We will do our best to ensure anyone who needs a ground floor flat gets one and anyone else's needs are accommodated people where possible.
Aside from registered assistance dogs, animals are not permitted at BiCon. There are assistance dog facilities outside of Bowder Court block DD. There is an area near Stamford Halls where assistance dogs can be walked or let off their leads. The BiCon team ask that attenders bringing assistance dogs let her know so we can ensure that people who are allergic to or dislike dogs can have their access needs met by being accommodated in different flats. The BiCon handbook requests that attenders do not pet assistance dogs.
BICON® is a registered trade mark of BiCon Continuity Ltd, and is used with permission.