Plan your visit Access guide We do our best to make our site as accessible as possible for all our visitors. Below is some information we hope you’ll find useful when planning your visit. If there’s anything else we can help you with please give us a call on 0121 557 6265; we'll be happy to help. Orientation guide and site maps We know that some visitors might benefit from understanding what our trips are like before they visit. For these visitors we have produced an orientation booklet (or visual story) which you can download by clicking here. We’ve also drawn some basic maps of the Portal building, so that you can see where things are. Currently the maps are available with text labels here and with communication in print symbols here. Parking Parking is available with level access to the Portal building. There are accessible spaces on the car park. Towpath access The towpath can be accessed by a lift within the Portal building. Please note that we're currently awaiting a repair on the lift and so it is out of order - the towpath and lower floor of the Portal building can currently be accessed via a sloped path outside. Please ask at the office / reception or Gongoozler restaurant if you need directions, or get in touch with us in advance of your visit and we can send you more information. Boarding the boats An accessible boat with a platform lift is available for visitors with limited mobility. This usually runs daily on the hour, but please give us a call before you visit to ensure the boat is not in for maintenance when you will be visiting. The accessible boat can accommodate one electric or two manual wheelchairs. Wheelchair users are the responsibility of carers whilst on the boat. The other boats are accessed by three steps down into the boat, with hand rails on either side. Flashing lights As part of the 45 minute boat trip there are two audio visual shows. Strobe lighting is not used however there are some flashing lights and loud music which may not be suitable for people with photosensitive conditions. We can arrange for these shows to not run for your boat trip if you let us know in advance. As this requires us to shut down some of our equipment we ask that you let us know at least a week before you wish to visit so that we can arrange this for you. From October to January there may be additional lights in the caverns as we prepare for and deliver our seasonal events. For details, please give us a call. Darkness underground We know that some people might be nervous of heading into the darkness underground. If this applies to someone in your group, please be assured that the boats have lights fitted which are left on for most of the trip, and can be kept on if necessary - please let us know before you visit. We can also provide a 'magic lantern' for guests to borrow free of charge for their trip which we've found can help them feel braver when taking the trip underground. These lanterns have a soft and reassuring glow. Please get in touch before you visit if you think you may wish to borrow a lantern and we can have it ready for you when you arrive. Visual impairments Our boat tour is available with special narration for the visually impaired by prior booking only – please give us a call to book. Hearing impairments The boat tour is available in a written format for people with hearing impairment. Please enquire before your visit so we can ensure one is waiting for you on the day of your visit. A hearing loop is available in The Gongoozler, at the ticket desk and in our function room. Please set devices to T. Quieter boat trips We appreciate that some individuals may find crowds and noise distressing. Our quieter times are midweek during term time. Our quietest 45 minute boat trips are in the morning at 10.30 and 11.00 however we do have pre-booked school groups visiting on some days, so please ring before your visit for more information. Toilets Accessible toilets can be found within the Portal building at both towpath and car park levels. Baby changing facilities are available in the accessible toilet next the Gongoozler Cafe. The toilets on the upper (car park) level have lower lighting levels than those on the lower (towpath) level. Gender neutral toilets can be found upstairs near the Gongoozler restaurant, also accessible during events from our learning room. These toilets also feature family-friendly seats with a fold down smaller seat for young children. Discounts for carers and assistants We know that some of our visitors require extra levels of support from a carer, companion or personal assistant to enable them to access and enjoy their visit to us. We offer a special ticket for visitors with carers on our 45 minute trip which is £9.50 to cover both the visitor and carer; please bring along either your carer’s network card or your PIP cover letter as carer identification. If you require more than one-to-one support please get in touch with us before you visit. For our longer trips and special events, carers, companions or personal assistants are eligible for half price tickets. If you have any questions about these rates or required identification, please get in touch with us, we’ll be happy to help as much as we can. Noise sensitivity We know that some of our visitors might be sensitive to noise. Some areas of our building and the boat trip are louder than others, so you are welcome to bring your own ear defenders or sensory objects to help you to focus. Areas that might be particularly noisy are the exhibition gallery, the restaurant and the shop. See our quieter times above for details of when the building is less busy, and give us a call or email us if you want to discuss the noise levels within our building in more detail. Makaton exhibition trail Our Biffa Award Exhibition Gallery has Makaton symbols in it that pick out key themes of the exhibition. We have created an activity trail for the gallery using the Makaton symbols. Everyone is welcome to download this trail for free and use it when they visit us – you can find it here: Makaton Exhibition Trail Safe place scheme We are part of Dudley’s Safe Place scheme, which runs across the borough. Safe Places aim to stop hate crime, bullying and abuse of vulnerable people by labelling places with friendly staff who are willing to help contact family or carers in time of need. All you have to do is show your safe place card to a member of staff and they’ll help you to call whoever you need. Our staff all take part in access training and many are also Dementia Friends so there will be people on site who can help you when you visit if you need it. We’re constantly improving our access for all on our site so welcome your feedback – we encourage you to get in touch with us to let us know if there is anything else we can do to improve your future visits to us. If you have any other particular access requirements please do get in touch with us by phone or email and we’ll be happy to assist you however we can.