Why access is worth shouting about

Striking artwork, natural light, excellent F&B – all of these things can help turn an average convention centre into something more memorable. When venues are irredeemably bad, it’s usually because of the kind of dodgy planning that would flummox a champion homing pigeon.

Some venues are horribly disorientating. Every time you need the toilet you have to locate magnetic north on your smartphone to get your bearings. Every floor looks the same and it’s never the floor you were expecting it to be – it’s like being stuck in one of M. C Escher’s illusory lithographs.

Now imagine having to contend with a physical impairment or learning difficult. Not good.

Big respect then to the team at ICC Wales, who have revealed a number of measures designed to make the South Wales venue super easy to navigate when it opens in 2019. The building will include Changing Places accessible toilets and incorporate dementia friendly wayfinding measures.

Signs will be as clear as possible, and backed up with symbols or images where appropriate. There will be quiet areas, drop off bays in front of the venue, and chairs that don’t clash with the flooring.

Nancy Mollett, convention centre director, ICC Wales, said: “We are delighted to introduce these measures to help ensure that ICC Wales is welcoming and accessible to everybody. As a completely new-build venue, we are in a privileged position in being able to include the very best and most up-to date facilities at the design and construction stage. We have consulted widely with charities such as Disabled Living to ensure that our venue is as inclusive as possible, and we will continue to do so in order to keep up to date with future developments.”

Changing Places Toilets are designed for those who find standard toilets hard to use. People with learning disabilities, as well people with physical disabilities such as spinal injuries, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis often need extra equipment and space to use the toilets safely.

In addition ICC Wales will incorporate four ambulant cubicles – which have hand-rails for walking impaired delegates and baby-changing facilities in both male and female toilets on the ground floor.

Usually when a centre is being built, the owners boast about the award-winning architectural practice they’ve employed or the multi-million pound roof that reflects the local flora, or something. It’s great that ICC Wales are boasting about stuff that really matters – getting from A to B.