The National Trust is launching a nationwide training programme to get staff and volunteers at its historic properties up to speed before the Disability Discrimination Act comes into force in October.
Employees from trust properties will be trained by people with disabilities to ensure that the charity is fully prepared for the new legislation, which requires public buildings to be accessible to everybody.
Training will focus on ensuring access for all visitors and responding to enquiries, but also on fostering a deeper understanding of the needs of people with disabilities. The charity has had to tread a fine line between ensuring accessibility and maintaining the architectural integrity of its protected properties.
The trust has hired a full-time staff member to ensure that all properties make the necessary modifications by the deadline.
“This is something we’re taking extremely seriously,” said Heather Smith, ‘access for all’ adviser at the trust. “We’ve been working for some time to look at how our properties are meeting our responsibility to disabled people.” She would not disclose how much compliance with the Act would cost.