You will see that we have very deliberately put this section in rather than just supplying a form… PLEASE READ THIS FIRST it will save you and us time and effort.
One of the major aims of Birding For All is to encourage universal access to facilities designed for birders.
Our form is a ‘template’ for assessing your local reserve… it covers the ground so that we can compare like with like. However, it is designed to alert you to the salient information that is needed by different users with different needs and strictures, not to put you off with its complications and depth! The BEST way to use it is to read it through, print one to take notes and then take lots of photos inside and outside hides, of paths, gates, ramps, information boards, reserve centres, path surfaces etc., etc. A few pictures of views of the reserve adds to the appeal. If there is a website for the reserve let us know that too so we can ‘mine’ it for relevant contact details etc.
A PDF is available to download here.
Please read the section below before attempting the survey… it will help. We do not expect miracles, do your best, that’s good enough for us!
This questionnaire is based on the Accessibility Standards laid out in the BT Countryside for All Standards and Guidelines. We have simplified (yes really!) these for the purpose of this survey. This means that although your questionnaire may appear to give good access standards to the site you review, it does not mean that the site necessarily meets the BT standards. We are simply using this method to gain an idea about accessibility. Use the notes to help you fill in as much of the questionnaire as you can, but remember a picture tells a thousand words.
The BT Standards use lots of measurements to assess paths etc, you can of course use a tape measure (useful when assessing hides) but I use a lot of estimating (by measuring out before hand the set standards against my body I can get a good idea of the measurements without having to take out a tape every time). Again if you take pictures with your phone you won’t need to measure everything in site. However, it is good to know how far one has to walk between hides, benches and other features so you can use your average step length to work out distances… unless you have a ‘fitbit’ or equivalent.
Without proper equipment it is very difficult to assess gradients, so use your common sense and keep an eye out for areas you think may be difficult. Ideally mark up a map of the reserve/site as this will be extremely useful to give an overall picture of the sites accessibility. You can then scan or photograph the map and email it too. When you mark up your map make sure you explain the symbols you have used! Of course if the site has an inaccessible area at the beginning of the “route” the whole site is out of bounds however good the rest is!
You might want to take simple notes on the form and do a ‘write up’ later. To be honest it will make our lives easier if you can email a ‘word’ or other document file along with photos. Then it will be easier for us to set up on the website and much quicker too.
The questionnaire is designed in several distinct parts. This means that, if you are taking a form with you to take notes, you may need only to print off the sections that apply to your survey. You can leave out the Hide part if your reserve has no hides or print 3 copies of that part if the site has 3 hides. To make the questionnaire easy to fill in we’ve put explanations in the corresponding notes.
If you need any help or have questions regarding this questionnaire please email us. Before you survey a reserve try and contact the people who run it, particularly if it is a permit entry site. Hopefully we’ll get positive feedback and start useful dialogue with those who run things.
Please avoid any confrontation and always emphasise the positive aspects of our work and surveys.
Please always consider your personal safety when visiting any site and always follow the Birdwatchers’ Code of Conduct.
Access Form Instructions
Please read the following notes before attempting the survey… but remember any information is better than none, so don’t be put off by all the detail – complete coverage is the ideal, but ANYTHING will be useful if you can’t do it all.
On arriving at the reserve please note the weather and anything else you feel might be relevant to the condition of the paths etc. When assessing Public Transport Links Include the distance to site from station or bus stop and the transport company’s name and phone number.
Trails & Paths
When looking at trails and paths see how long the trail or path is overall? We are looking for your best estimate of length of trail or path and how long it takes to complete. Also include the number of trails and descriptions of each different trail where relevant, and if they are circular.
While noting paths, look at what surface they have and describe it – for example is it tarmac, grass, stone, timber, sand, loose gravel, woodchips, etc. We are looking for a surface that is compact and firm, stable, non-slip and obstacle free so please indicate if the surface is any of the above. In many cases you will find loose stones and chippings; do these cover the whole surface and are the stones bigger than 10mm?
When judging steepness, an indication of whether a path is steep, flat or has a mild gradient will be useful. We also need to know the length of the incline. This is not easy so just do your best. We also need information about any incline across the width of the path or trail as these can pose difficulties, especially to wheelchair users. Again, an indication of the steepness and distance will be useful. Remember that Surface Breaks include grills, cattle grids and gaps in boards. If we know how long a ramp is, and how high the door is from the path it is easy to calculate the gradient and see if it will be an easy or hard ‘push’ for a wheelchair user.
Assessing the suitability of a viewing point for a wheelchair users involves a lot of measuring – a tape measure would be a real help. A sensible thing to do is sit at one of the viewing slots and see how well you are able to open it, or use it, without ever rising from the seat, many wheelchair users are not able to stand. The best hides will have an extension in front of a wheelchair slot so that the person can get close to a viewing slot with room for their knees.
The “Condition & Non slip treatment” of boardwalks can include a wire/mesh covering or special paint treatment which should be visible’ it would be helpful to know.
The “Any other comments” section under “Hides” gives you the opportunity to list your overall impression of the hide – how comfortable it is, the height of the windows, seating etc. If you want to add further comments or information, please feel free and do so at the very end of the form or on a separate sheet – the more information you give us, the better the overall picture we have. Many thanks for taking the time to do this questionnaire.
We used to have the option to fill in the form on line, but this did, we feel, make the task onerous. So please take notes on the form then write it up in your own words and email along with photos.
If you don’t feel up to that please just mail us your notes.