One of the major aims of Birding For All is to encourage universal access to facilities designed for birders.
Our form is devoted to a ‘template’ for assessing your local reserve… please use this template so that we can compare like with like. When you have made your assessment please send the form back to us, (or better still fill in the on-line form) and we will include it in our reserves section.
A PDF is available to download here.
National Accessibility Scheme
This is a scheme run by “visitBritain” the UK Tourist Authority, grading accommodation according to 3 different categories of accessibility, all given an individual sign:
Category 1 – [Accessible to all wheelchair users including those travelling independently]
Category 2 – [Accessible to a wheelchair user with assistance]
Category 3 – [Accessible to a wheelchair user able to walk short distances and up at least three steps]
Local tourist boards are now inspecting accommodation of all types according to these categories, This will provide users with a clear understanding of accessibility. Bear in mind that the criteria they use is their own and not necessarily that of the British Standards. The web site also has a search facility for inspected accommodation throughout Britain. There are also details of “Tourism For All” a national charity who will help with travel enquiries for disabled people. Full details on their website.
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.
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). You can use average steps to work out distances.
Without proper equipment it is very difficult to assess gradients, 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. When you mark up your map make sure you explain the symbols you 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!
The questionnaire is designed in several distinct parts. This means you need only 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 I’ve put explanations in the corresponding notes. They should be easy to find as the numbers in the notes correspond to the numbers in the survey.
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 a complete form is the ideal, but ANY completed section 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.