The Zoological Society of East Anglia (ZSEA), the dynamic conservation and education charity that runs Banham Zoological Gardens in Norfolk and Africa Alive Zoological Reserve in Suffolk, has announced an agreement with Norfolk County Council to support the delivery of improved accessibility at both of their parks.
Norfolk County Council’s (NCC) Access and Inclusion experts have begun conducting Access Audits of both parks. These audits cover both customers and staff, taking into account the needs of people with physical disabilities, sensory loss, learning disabilities, people who are Neurodivergent and people living with mental health issues.
Following the completion of audits, NCC will provide ZSEA with guidance on implementing the recommendations made. This work will be ongoing over the next two years and forms part of ZSEA’s improvements to visitor facilities.
Claudia Roberts, CEO at ZSEA, said: “It is our goal to become the trailblazers for inclusivity in the tourism industry, and we are delighted to be partnering with Norfolk County Council as our next step forward in improving accessibility.
“Banham and Africa Alive are home to so many unique and endangered species. As a conservation and education charity, we are passionate about inviting as many people as possible to meet these incredible animals and learn how they can aid their plight in the wild.
“Norfolk County Council’s Access Audits and recommendations will be invaluable in improving inclusivity at our sites, and we look forward to working with them over the next two years to make both the journey across our parks and wider conservation mission accessible to everyone.”
The partnership follows the unveiling of ZSEA’s Neurodiversity Project, a collaboration with MBA students from the University of East Anglia to identify opportunities for further inclusivity at the parks for people with neurodiverse conditions.
On World Autism Awareness Day (2 April 2022), ZSEA pledged 100% of ticket sales to the Neurodiversity Project. ZSEA will invest the proceeds in new signage with neurodiversity in mind, story boards to help people plan their visits, dedicated neurodiversity days and quiet zones. The charity will also be developing new partnerships with neurodiversity and autism organisations.
On Monday 18 July, ZSEA will be hosting a ‘Sensory Inclusion Day’ at both of their parks, which aims to create a safe, nurturing space where children and adults with sensory needs can connect to nature. Throughout the day, there will be a variety of free activities including animal feeding talks, designated quiet zones, sensory stations and a ‘Find Your Spirit Animal’ discovery trail.
Norfolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Partnerships said “Banham Zoo and Africa Alive are much-loved places, attracting 1000s of children, families and schools each year.
“We are delighted to share our knowledge of disability access with ZSEA, as this has a benefit for all our disabled residents. The British Government stated an ambition in 2021 to place the UK as the global leader of accessibility and make the UK the most accessible tourism destination in Europe. ZSEA’s aim to enhance accessibility will place it as one of Norfolk’s flagship organisations working towards this ambition of ‘access for all.'"
To find out more about ZSEA’s commitment to accessibility, or to book tickets for the Sensory Inclusion Day, visit: https://www.zsea.org/
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