National Portrait Gallery Unveils High-Tech Facilities for Visitors with Severe Disabilities

In a major step forward on its mission to remove and reduce barriers to its famous Collection, the newly revamped National Portrait Gallery has completed work on one of the most accessible restroom facilities in the Capital.

The Gallery’s Changing Place facility, now open to the public, is a fully accessible restroom which allows for individuals who may require carer support to visit the venue in a safe and comfortable way.

Changing Places are advanced, accessible toilet facilities designed specifically to cater to the needs of individuals with severe disabilities and those who require more support and space than standard, for personal care. Importantly, they are not standard accessible toilets, going well beyond the parameters of ‘standard’ toilet facilities for people with disabilities common to most public buildings in the UK, which have significant limitations. A consortium of leading charitable organisations including Muscular Dystrophy UK, Age Concern and the Disability Alliance have been actively campaigning for widespread access to Changing Places since 2006.

“The installation of the Changing Place facility builds on the commitments we have made to the disability community,” said Ros Lawler, Chief Operations Officer, National Portrait Gallery.

“In addition to our new step-free entrance, Ross Place, the Gallery provides large print guides and resources, audio-described tours and magnifying glasses to enable people with vision and hearing loss to have a full, immersive experience, making our Grade I listed building accessible to all visitors.”

The Changing Place, devised and installed by expert disability technology company Innova Care Concepts, makes a fundamental difference to visitors with disabilities and continues the trend of making art accessible to all. Changing Places are notably bigger than regular accessible toilets to accommodate individuals who require assistance and specialist mobility equipment including wheelchairs and hoists, as well as help from a carer while using the facility. The typical Changing Place is a size of 12 metres squared.

“Our primary mission is to utilise the technology we have to make the UK a more equitable society with access for everyone,” said Innova Care Concepts Managing Director Tom Hulbert.

“London is home to some of the world’s most impressive and engaging art, and it’s a privilege to have been closely associated with the National Portrait Gallery as it continues to drive accessibility standards.”

The Gallery is considered one of the most accessible art venues in the UK, featuring step-free access throughout the venue, alongside specialist training for staff in looking after visitors with a disability. An estimated 250,000 people in the UK require use of a Changing Place facility when travelling or visiting events

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