Institute of EducationUniversity of London, London, WC1H 0AL, United Kingdom | 020 7612 6000 | Website
This review is especially helpful for those who have or use the following: Walking Aid
Jeffery Hall is conference venue which can accommodate up to 320 attendees. It is located on Level 1 of the main UCL Institute of Education building. I visited here as a visitor to a day symposium. I was told by staff that students have access passes, so wouldn't have the same issues as myself regarding entering or exiting the building. However, for an educational institution there is no equality for all. Disabled visitors with mobility impairments are unable to navigate this building independently in the same way able bodied people can and in 2020 this is ridiculous.
Transport & Parking
The nearest tube stations are Russell Square or Euston, neither of which offer step free access. There are a number of bus routes that stop close by. The nearest step free tube is King's Cross from which you could take a bus.
On paper this venue ticks the boxes that it offers step free access and accessible toilets. However, my personal experience was this was not straight forward. When I received venue details it was given as Jeffery Hall, 20 Bedford Way. The main entrance to 20 Jeffery Hall is up a flight of stairs, sorry for the side view photo. When I arrived I found that there was a level entry door into Logan Hall but it was locked and only accessible with a swipe pass and there was a sign on the door pointing to the accessible entrance, see photo. I followed the sign and there was a ramp leading to a locked door. I buzzed, no one spoke to me but they let me in. The intercom was at wheelchair height, they have not considered that there maybe other disabled people who are at standing height who might need step free access. When the door opened I was face to face with a platform lift. On exiting the platform lift I was on reception level. I went to the reception desk and got directions on where to take the lift to the Jeffery Hall on Level 1. Jeffery Hall is a large hall type venue with a stage on one side. On the day I visited it was set out with groups of tables with freestanding chairs. The venue was full and busy. I found a seat near the exit. On leaving the building I had to take the lift to level 4. I went to the glass door by the corridor where the platform lift is and found it was only open with a swipe pass. I went to reception and they explained that the door is locked as it is also the entrance to the computer area but students get a swipe pass that opens the door. I then was let out of the building via the platform lift and door to street level, thanks to one of the reception team accompanying me with a swipe pass.
Jeffery Hall is on Level 1 of the building. There are male and female toilets there. There is a sign saying that the accessible toilet is on Level 4 via the lift. For a 320 seater events venue I feel it is blatant failure of reasonable adjustments and clear disability discrimination. No events venue would be designed without non accessible toilets near by. Could you imagine what it would be like if every person wanted the toilet had to take the lift to 3 floors up, there would be an outrage. As a disabled person I felt very angry, especially given that there are some disabled people who would not be able to hold their bladder or bowl movement long enough to take the lift to the 4th floor. By the break time when I needed to use the toilet only 2 of the 3 lifts were working, and this remained the situation for the rest of the day. The lifts serve 9 floors. At the mid morning break I had to wait about 5 minutes for the lift to arrive. Other times the wait was a lot less. When I got to Level 4 I followed the signs to the accessible toilet. I had to navigate a manual door to get to the entrance of the accessible toilet. The accessible toilet door had a very low lock. I have a back problem and it was difficult for me to bend to such a low level to close and open the door. The toilet was spacious, clean, with grab rail and an emergency cord that reached to the ground.
Reception staff were extremely helpful in quickly providing me with entry to the building. When I wanted to exit one of the them accompanied me to the exit to ensure I was able to exit as I didn't have a swipe card. They were friendly and supportive. I spoke to the symposium organiser about the accessible toilet problem. She apologised and said that they would consider disabled access for future events. They had booked Jeffery Hall based on their memory of its facilities.
Anything else you wish to tell us?
I think if you are a student/ member of staff who has a swipe card then step free access won't be a problem. However, as a disabled visitor I found the design of the building unnecessarily complicated to navigate. The issue about the location of the accessible toilet meant that quite a lot of my break time was spent going to/ from the toilet and I think it is unacceptable. Therefore if you are a visitor with access needs I would suggest contacting the venue before your visit to check the arrangements.
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