Accessibility Hereford Cathedral endeavours to be as accessible as possible, ensuring an equal experience for all visitors, regardless of impairments. We understand that not all conditions are visible, such as autism, dementia or chronic illness, and we aim to create an environment where all visitors feel welcome and comfortable. Ultimately, we want to share the cathedral’s spirituality, heritage and sense of place with every visitor, in a way that is accessible to them. We have updated our Social Story to reflect the changes within the cathedral owing to the restrictions in place as a result of Coronavirus. Please click here to download a pdf version. We have also produced an updated Social Story for visitors to the Mappa Mundi & Chained Library Exhibition. Please click here to download a pdf version. **Please note that some of this information may not be accurate owing to the changes we have had to make to the visitor experience in light of social distancing restrictions. If you are planning to visit us in 2021 and have any queries, please email [email protected] or call 01432 374 200 and a member of staff will be more than happy to discuss any changes with you.** Staff and Volunteers All of the staff and volunteers at Hereford Cathedral are currently taking part in Accessibility Training. The training covers topics such as how to ensure proper access for visitors in wheelchairs, how to communicate effectively with visitors who are blind or deaf, and the adjustments that may improve the experience of visitors with less visible impairments. Our training includes resources from the National Autistic Society and finishes with a Dementia Friends information session. Some of our staff and volunteers are also learning Makaton; you can follow their weekly progress, or learn some signs yourself, by searching for #MakatonMonday on any of our social media channels. Wheelchair Access The main body of Hereford Cathedral is wheelchair accessible. To help visitors plan their visit, our Access Map marks all the level, ramped, and stepped access points. The main North Porch entrance is level, as are the entrances from Chapter House Gardens and the Lady Arbour. There is a shallow ramp at the St John’s door entrance, which is the entrance nearest the car park. Please note that the floor can be a little uneven in places, due to the age of the building. There is also a small step down into the Stanbury Chapel (less than 4cm). There are three shallow steps up to our Quire; we can provide a ramp to access the Quire, which can be installed by contacting the Vestry. Unfortunately, our Crypt, Lady Chapel and Audley Chapel are not currently wheelchair accessible. There are five steps up to the Lady Chapel, and therefore also to the Audley Chapel which is accessed via the Lady Chapel. We are investigating solutions to make the Lady Chapel wheelchair accessible. In the meantime, a printed guide to the inaccessible chapels is available to borrow from our Welcome Desk. Our volunteer Guides have a wealth of knowledge, and are always happy to provide further information or answer any questions. Wheelchairs are available for visitors to borrow, but visitors are advised to book these in advance by phoning the Vestry. There is a small ramp into the Shop if approaching from the cathedral; however, the route from the Chapter House Gardens or Lady Arbour ensures totally level access. Within the Shop, the main shelves are lowered (63cm high) and are wheelchair accessible. The Café is also wheelchair accessible, with a ramp from the counter to the seating area. However, circulation within the Café is difficult at busy times, so the table with most room is designated as priority seating and is reserved for wheelchair users. The Mappa Mundi & Chained Library Exhibition is fully wheelchair accessible, and rest seats are provided throughout. Toilets There is a non-gendered accessible toilet, located in our Chapter House Garden; this can be reached externally via the car park, or via the Café or St John’s door. A Radar key is needed to open the toilet, but spare keys are available from the shop and the vestry. The door width is 92cm, with a turning circle of 160cmx225cm. We apologise that we do not currently provide a hoist; the nearest Changing Places facility is in Old Market, which is less than 250m away. There are also male and female toilets available in the same location, accessed via Chapter House Garden. Additional Resources There is a large-print guide to Hereford Cathedral, as well as Braille guides and tactile maps, produced in partnership with the Royal National College for the Blind. Assistance Dogs are free to enter any area of the building. Emotional Support Animals may be permitted, but will be assessed on a case-by-case basis; please contact our Accessibility Officer in advance of your visit. Our new Sensory Trail is available for families to borrow; please contact the Accessibility Officer to request it. We also offer ear defenders, which are available to borrow from the Welcome Desk. These resources are designed to help those with sensory sensitivities, such as those on the autistic spectrum or living with dementia, have a better experience at Hereford Cathedral. Specially designed lighting in Hereford Cathedral focuses lights on architectural details, using strategically placed LED lights. Those with photosensitivity can check our lighting in advance by taking a virtual tour, created by Light Perceptions (please note this will open on an external website). There is a hearing loop available during services, which our Vestry team can advise you further on. Mappa Mundi and Chained Library The exhibition, which houses the Mappa Mundi and Chained Library, is designed to be fully accessible and offers a wide range of resources. There is a charge to enter the exhibition, but companions are entitled to free access. We also provide complimentary tickets for visitors if they have to leave suddenly, for example if a member of your group is overwhelmed. You can read our full Accessible Ticketing policy; it is designed to help visitors, regardless of impairment, access and enjoy the exhibition. The exhibition is fully wheelchair accessible, and rest seats are provided throughout. There is an interactive tactile and braille interpretation of the Mappa Mundi, with an audio description of key parts of the map. There is also a large tactile map of the Mappa Mundi, as well as braille guides available to borrow. Although there is not currently a separate audio guide, there is an audio commentary on the video which gives an introduction to the Mappa Mundi. Parking Hereford Cathedral has a very limited number of designated disabled parking spaces; these can be booked in advance, but only in exceptional circumstances. However, there are many options for parking in streets and car parks near to the Cathedral. You can download a leaflet highlighting free disabled parking here. Preparing for your Visit We understand that many visitors feel more comfortable having additional information in advance of their visit. You can download further information about our lighting, parking options, and food served in our café; the links for these are in the sections above. We have also written a Social Story to help prepare visitors for a trip to the cathedral, which can be downloaded below. We create Social Stories for our special events as well, so if you are planning on coming to an event in the future, please check back on this page for the relevant Social Story. Hereford Cathedral Social Story For visitors who prefer visiting at quieter times, we recommend visiting first thing in the morning (before 11am) or later in the afternoon (between 4pm and 5:30pm). There are usually less people in the cathedral at those times of day. We also have a number of chapels, which are places that visitors can retreat to if overwhelmed; they are marked on our Access Map. If you prefer to visit at a time that is guaranteed to be quiet, we offer regular ‘Quiet Hours’. During this time we stop all activities which may cause noise, such as organ practice or hoovering. These ‘Quiet Hours’ are ideal for visitors on the autistic spectrum, living with dementia, or with PTSD. Visitors are welcome to visit as they usually would during ‘Quiet Hours’, and may tour the cathedral freely and independently. There is always a Dementia Friend at the Welcome Desk during these times, if visitors would like any help. Contacts If you have any queries, questions or suggestions about accessibility at Hereford Cathedral, please contact us. Vestry: [email protected] or 01432 374234 Cathedral Office: [email protected] or 01432 374200 Thank You Much of what we have listed here was produced in association with our local community; individuals and groups have helped us to improve our accessibility by taking part in focus groups and site visits, and making suggestions for changes that we could make. We firmly believe that people with impairments should be involved at every stage of the accessibility improvement process: ‘Nothing about us without us’. We would particularly like to thank the Alzheimer’s Society and the National Autistic Society for their advice and input.