24/7 Changing Places toilet opens to enable access and inclusivity for disabled people
In a bid to become the most accessible science centre experience in the UK, Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium has opened a new registered Changing Places facility which is open 24/7 and can be accessed via an NKS radar key.
The installation of Changing Places at the Science Centre is part of the educational charity’s mission to make science available to all children.
Changing Places are larger than a standard accessible toilet, with extra equipment such as a height-adjustable changing bench and hoist as well as enough space for a disabled person and up to two carers.
There are only two other registered Changing Places in the Winchester district, although the onsite accessible car parking at the Science Centre makes it easily accessible from the A31, A34 and M3.
“One in five people in the UK have a disability, impairment or illness that significantly impacts their lives, and the lives of their families,” said Ben Ward, CEO of Winchester Science Centre. “We passionately believe that science should be for all and we have made a firm commitment to improve the accessibility of the Science Centre to create a more inclusive experience for our visitors.”
Earlier this year, the Science Centre unveiled its re-imagined planetarium, which was the first major milestone on its journey to becoming the UK’s leading science centre for promoting inclusivity. Visitors are now able to experience subtitled shows, personalised audio tracks and 3D printed tactile resources, enabling people with hearing and visual impairments to better share their planetarium experience alongside family and friends.
Further developments include the introduction of regular quiet hours, relaxed shows, bookable sensory backpacks and a disability-confident staff team.
The Science Centre is also preparing to reveal exciting plans to re-develop the upper floor to create a new multi-sensory STEM exhibition, accessible welcome area, café and shop.
The installation of Changing Places was made possible by a grant from Enterprise M3 LEP, which also supported the upgraded Planetarium.
Founded in 1968, Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium is an independent educational charity that aims to spark curiosity and build science capital for all.