Undiscovered Britain caters to independent travelers who long to experience the off-the-beaten- track treasures of the real Britain and Ireland.Travel information for people with disabilities traveling in Britain and Ireland.
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Link to Accessibility Symbols, on this page.
Link to Driving tips, on this page.
Link to description of the National Key System for accessable toilets, on this page.
Link to accessability information about theater and entertainment, on this page.
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Accessibility Symbols.

The following symbols are used to rate the accessibility of hotels and public venues throughout Britain. You will find them in RADAR and tourist board guidebooks, hotel brochures, websites and in disability magazines. Please note that these symbols denote basic access requirements, such as level entrances and wide doorways. They do not address amenities such as roll-in showers or hoists. These symbols are a good starting place, but of course it’s always prudent to check with the property directly.

   
   The symbol has a wheelchair icon with the number 1 at the bottom   Category 1 - Accessible to an independent wheelchair user.    
   The symbol has a wheelchair icon with the number 2 at the bottom   Category 2 - Accessible to a wheelchair user with assistance.    
   The symbol has a wheelchair icon with the number 3 at the bottom   Category 3 - Accessible to someone with mobility difficulties, but able to walk up a maximum of three steps.    
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Driving

There are many ways to enjoy the beautiful British countryside. One option is to rent an accessible vehicle and set out on your own freewheeling holiday. Accessible self-drive rental vehicles, including cars with hand controls and lift equipped vans, are now available on a limited basis in Britain. A word of warning though; hand controls from continental Europe and North America will most likely not work on British rental vehicles. Remember, the British drive on the left-hand side of the road, so bringing your own hand controls from home may not be a workable solution. Your best bet it to rent a vehicle already adapted to your specific needs.

If you plan a self-drive holiday, don’t forget to bring your handicapped parking placard from home. The “Orange Badge” is the official disabled parking permit in Britain; but ECMT Resolution 97/4 grants reciprocal handicapped parking privileges to permit-holders from other countries. The resolution requires permit holders to “display a document that shows the international symbol for persons with disabilities, as well as the name of the document holder”. As of Jan 1, 1999, travelers from associate countries (including the US and Canada) are included in this resolution.

You must obey the parking regulations of the host country. See the Disabled Driver’s Mobility Club website, www.disabledmotoring.org for a list of the regulations.

Currently the Republic of Ireland does not have any self-drive accessible rental vehicles. If you wish to travel around the Irish countryside, the best option is to hire an accessible vehicle with a driver/guide. This is also an excellent option in England, Scotland and Wales, and indeed, it's the choice for those that want to explore the country at their own pace, but prefer to leave the driving to someone else.

   

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Toilets

The National Key Scheme (NKS) was set up to allow independent access to accessible public toilets throughout the United Kingdom, and to protect these facilities from vandalism. The NKS was first launched in 1981, and today over 5,000 public toilets throughout the UK have a NKS lock. These toilets can be used by any disabled individual who has a key. Many local disability groups (in the UK) have keys for sale, but the best place for tourists to get their NKS key is from RADAR (The Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation). The cost is £2.50 and the NKS key can be ordered from the RADAR website.

When purchasing a NKS key from overseas, you must include a statement that says “I'd like a key and I have a disability" or "I'm buying this key on behalf of someone with a disability" This statement is required in order to waive the VAT on the purchase. A guide listing all the locations of NKS toilets is also available on the RADAR website for £5.00.

If your travels include the Republic of Ireland, a separate key available from the Access Department of the National Rehabilitation Board (25 Clyde Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, Eire, Tel. 01 668 4181) will open 99% of locked public accessible toilets in the Republic.

   
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Theater and Entertainment

London offers a wide variety of entertainment choices, from live theater and music performances to comedy clubs and art galleries. Truly, there is something for everybody! Of course, accessibility varies from venue to venue, but updated accessibility information is available by calling Artsline. Founded in 1981, Artsline’s mission is to provide information and advice to people with disabilities, regarding the accessibility of London’s arts and entertainment venues. This free phone service operates Mon to Fri from 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM. Artsline can tell you “what’s hot”, give you access details and even offer suggestions about the attitudes of local management. Their database includes information on theaters, cinemas, arts centers, museums, comedy clubs, music venues and galleries. Artsline also publishes a monthly magazine, DIAL (Disability Arts in London) which has current listings and reviews. For more information call Artsline at 0171-388-2227 or visit their website at www.artsline.org.uk

   
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