Books, Beer, and Boardwalks
This review is especially helpful for those who have or use the following: Long Cane, Symbol Cane, Walking Aid, Wheelchair, Powerchair, Mobility Scooter, Hidden Impairment, Speech Impairment
Visiting for the first time this year, Edinburgh's International Book Festival manages to raise the bar once again on accessibility. Last year I thought it was fabulous with a Changing Places Toilet and Multi Sensory Story Telling. This year there's a new drop off point with ramp to get you safely up on to the pavement without having to do battle with the whizzing traffic trying to move you on. Add that to the mix of more boardwalk space, more inclusive performances, colourful ramps to everywhere and a calm oasis of peace amidst the hustle and bustle of town you have a hit!
Transport & Parking
The Book festival is never going to be perfect for getting there as it is a pop up venue in a town square. With traffic on all four sides it was a problem but this year the northern side of the square has an accessible drop off point, with access ramp and no sense of being hurried. The buses all run along nearby Princes Street or you can opt to take a tram. May be get off at St Andrew Square and enjoy a meander along George Street taking in the shows, the open air bars and cafes on the way. Once you arrive in the main entrance there is a handy "Accessibility" stand where folk can tell you all about the accessibility or offer help and advice.
For an undulating grass covered square the complex is fabulous. With boardwalks and a variety of carpeted tents and structures it is easy to wheel around. Plenty of signage to help you find the way and spots to rest a while and enjoy an ice cream or a drink. A lovely children's area, a gigantic book shop, the cafe, the performance stages and much more. Even a quiet space should you need to take a spell out from the noise and bustle of the streets. Visiting in the company of friends it was no problem having a gang of wheelchair users all in the same place - sometimes it can be when we've been elsewhere. We felt welcome and part of it just like everyone else. Performances were inclusive with BSL, multi sensory storytelling, accessible seating and everything to make your visit enjoyable.
Top marks for having a Changing Places toilet on site. Adjacent was an accessible toilet and alongside toilets for everyone.
Everyone we met was friendly and helpful. A dedicated access desk in the front entrance was a great find too. There was a strong spirit of inclusion about the place and we will be going back for more visits while we can!