Hovertravel is announcing a major new initiative aiming at improving accessibility. Called HoverCare, this initiative starts with the world’s first accessibility training session on a passenger hovercraft. Hovertravel staff will undergo training from the Barclays Accessibility Team, which will include the opportunity to experience what it feels like to have limited mobility, sight issues and hearing problems by wearing a specially designed bodysuit and other simulation equipment.

Neil Chapman, Managing Director, Hovertravel,  explains: “We are delighted to launch HoverCare with our Accessibility Month and to be able to start by collaborating with Barclays on this innovative training session. Hovertravel is a sharing, collaborative, helpful organisation that is working to make the communities it works in more accessible to all. We want to use all the knowledge and experience we can find to keep learning and Hovertravel is committed to developing and sharing best practice as this initiative evolves. “

The suit adds weight to simulate an age increase of 30-40 years on the wearer and through a variety of additional modules can cause trembling of the hands, common visual disorders, an unsteady gait, restricted movement of knees, loss of hearing and unilateral paralysis. By inducing physical restrictions such as head mobility, joint stiffness, loss of strength, reduced grip and less coordination, wearers will feel these restriction for themselves, increase their empathy and gain a greater understanding of how to provide the best possible Hovertravel experience.

Kathryn Townsend, Head of Customer & Client Accessibility, Barclays, adds: “The launch of HoverCare is a fantastic testament to the importance that Hovertravel is placing on supporting older and disabled customers and we are proud to work with them on this initiative. Barclays has firm aspirations to be the most accessible and inclusive FTSE 100 organisation, so for us it is about how we can make access to our business and workplace easier for everyone.  The training and simulation experience, which was initially developed to educate Barclays branch colleagues, is yet another example of how we can better understand the needs of our customers.”

As well as the staff training, Hovertravel has also used the start of its Accessibility Month to announce the appointment of three Accessibility Champions: Andy Parnell, Gaz Bloomfield and Neil Chapman.  The Accessibility Champions will be responsible for embedding accessibility into the company by assessing access provision and promoting equality and diversity. In turn, enhanced awareness and best practice will be further communicated throughout Hovertravel by the appointment of Accessibility Ambassadors in each team.

Hovertravel will be collaborating, as part of its Accessibility Month, with community interest group, Isle Access, and UK Charity, Tourism for All.  Members of Isle Access will be offering assistance and working at Hovertravel on shifts during the next few weeks.  Also, as they travel with Hovertravel they have offered to create short films of their experiences to provide invaluable insight from their different perspectives. Tourism for All has developed an online disability awareness training programme which will be mandatory for all Hovertravel employees.

For more information, go HERE

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