Top Wheelchair Accessible Things to Do in Northern Ireland
Despite its size, Northern Ireland is packed with culture and must-see attractions. In recent years, it’s caught the attention of film crews, such as those for Game of Thrones and Star Wars, and now even Lonely Planet has named Belfast and the Causeway Coast region is one of the best destinations to visit in 2018.
The remaining question for many would-be travellers is not whether this corner of the world is worth seeing, but rather if they are even able to experience it fully.
With this in mind, local company Olympic Lifts has reviewed the country’s most popular attractions to find out just which were the most accessible for those with sight or hearing impairments, wheelchair users and those with autism.
You can discover which are the most disability friendly here:
- Titanic Belfast
Titanic Belfast is one of Belfast’s newest attractions and a must-see attraction for those interested in Northern Ireland’s ship-building heritage and the story of the infamous Titanic ship.
This attraction has blue badge parking, and rentable wheelchairs, this attraction is exceptionally well-equipped to cater to disabled visitors. Not only that, but those with impaired sight will benefit from the availability of audio and Braille guides, and those with hearing difficulties can make use of the British Sign Language (BSL) visuals and printed guide. Titanic Belfast has also made attempts to make the experience as autism-friendly as possible, with ‘VIP’ passes and rentable ear-defenders and/or blackout tents.
- Northern Ireland Assembly Buildings (Stormont)
Visiting these fascinating buildings is a must if you are at all interested in Northern Ireland’s complicated political history.
They offer British and Irish signed tour guides, and have a hearing loop system installed in all Committee rooms, function rooms and the Chamber, while portable loops are available at reception. This is another award-winning attraction, having been awarded both the the ‘Louder than Words’ charter mark and Autism Access Award.
- Ulster Museum
The Ulster Museum is an ideal way to spend a few hours, no matter what your age. From mummies to paintings, to dinosaurs and the local history of Belfast and Northern Ireland, these five floors are packed with fascinating exhibits – and are all accessible via the handy elevator. A sound enhancement system is available at certain locations, and so are described videos and magnifying sheets can be requested as well.
- Belfast City Hall
Get to know the capital city a little better by taking advantage of Belfast City Hall’s free, daily tours, complete with a specialised guide. For those with mobility issues, a lift is available to transport guests to different floors, and a wheelchair is also available to rent. Braille, large print documents, and a hearing loop are available for those who are hearing impaired, and blind or partially sighted guests can make use of the audio guide.
- Belfast Zoo
Belfast Zoo homes over 100 different species of animals from all corners of the globe, most of which can be viewed all year around. The prairie dogs are particularly amusing, as they run free around the park. The visitor centre is fitted with an induction loop hearing system, and they even offer a “Quiet Hour” for guests on the autism spectrum to enjoy the park before it officially opens at 10am. The park also offers disabled parking and a different disabled bathrooms across the park, and rentable wheelchairs for those who call ahead.
- Giant’s Causeway
The Giant’s Causeway saw 1 million visitors in 2017, making it Northern Ireland’s most distinctive nand popular attraction by far. Special effort has been made to make it as accessible as possible, as well. While the pathway to the causeway is relatively flat and wheelchair-friendly, the shuttle bus provides a suitable alternative for those with mobility issues. Even if you simply stay in the visitor centre, you can explore the different interpretive exhibits, such as a 3D coastal model, with information available through audio guides or Braille.
Exploris is not only home to dozens of different types of fish, but small-clawed otters and a rare albino lobster, too. The building is fully accessible for wheelchair users, with all tanks visible, and even has the option of rentables. There is a hearing loop in the reception area, and suitable disabled parking and bathrooms available, as well as discounts for carers and an assistant dog bathroom in the park.
The family-focused science centre has 6 themed exhibition areas and over 250 interactive exhibitions, all of which are easily accessible with ramps and elevators. They also provide a hearing loop system at the ticket desk and in the Lecture Theatre, for those hard of hearing.
- Crumlin Road Gaol
Crumlin Road Gaol is filled with over a hundred years’ worth of stories – and plenty of them are pretty spooky. While not entirely accessible (there are 2 lower rooms only reachable via narrow steps) most of the building is easy to navigate, with elevators and ramps to make wheelchair access simple. There are even rentable wheelchairs available at reception.
- HMS Caroline
The HMS Caroline was used in both WWI and II, and was opened officially to the public in 2016. While tide times will dictate how accessible the ship is for wheelchair users and those with mobility issues, there have been real efforts to better the accessibility of the ship with a newly installed lift and the introduction of a Virtual Access suite. It also has audio guides available in six different languages.