The team at Euan’s Guide have discovered some alternative options to keep you exploring during lockdown by way of virtual visiting
What do you do during a lockdown when your charity is all about helping make it easier for people to find great places to go? That was the question we started asking ourselves on 11 March when the World Health Organisation declared the outbreak of COVID-19 a pandemic. Two days later the team behind Euan’s Guide, the disabled access review website, were all working remotely for the foreseeable future and wondering how we could continue to support our users, disabled people and their support network while we all stay at home.
We quickly started to hear from our users that they were struggling with anxiety and actively trying to limit their news consumption and the amount of time they spent on social media. Our Ambassadors and team members were feeling it too, as our London Ambassador Tina put it:
“As disabled people, we are often portrayed negatively or underrepresented by news outlets, and social media users can sometimes lack empathy or even be offensive towards us. This negativity can knock our confidence and impact on our emotional wellbeing.”
We knew what we had to do, so quickly we set about developing a solution that would enable us all to stay connected, combat feelings of isolation and loneliness and share ways to keep busy and entertained from the comfort of your home. The end result was Euan’s Guide Forum, which we launched on Thursday 26 March. The forum seemed a natural solution, it gave disabled people the opportunity to come together in a welcoming, safe and positive space. It is an online space where you could go to escape the news, beat the boredom, ask for advice, find ideas or share what you are doing.
Virtual visiting and communities
Quickly we saw the content on the forum grow to cover a range of activities and interests. As a disabled access charity we’ve always been focussed on enabling people to find and share accessible things to do and the forum swiftly became an extension of this, with things being shared that were self-isolation and social-distancing appropriate. As well as covering all the events, shows and activities that moved online for a finite period of time, we heard about other new communities springing up, like The Staying Inn, a virtual pub headed up by “landlady” Dr Amy Kavanagh. Another space created for the disabled community to keep people in self-isolation connected with regular virtual events.
It also opened our eyes to some brilliant online resources that had been there all along, as self-confessed adventurers and explorers it might come as no surprise that we were particularly drawn to the virtual tours of locations across the globe. Want to join us on a virtual UK tour? Here are just a few suggestions people have shared on the forum:
The British Museum, London
As one of London’s most popular museums there is an astonishing range of objects to explore when you visit the British Museum, or take a virtual tour online. In fact, they have multiple options allowing you to explore the museum and its objects online. To explore some of its galleries try ArtsAndCulture.google.com/partner/the-british-museum. For a timeline view of its virtual artefacts visit BritishMuseum.withgoogle.com. Interested in visiting when you can? The museum has some really positive reviews on Euan’s Guide with an overall rating of 4.3/5.
Learn more about one of the UK’s most important Neolithic sites and explore the chambered tomb in 3D with “Explore Maeshowe”, a mobile app available on both iOS and android formats. Through the app you can discover Norse graffiti from the 1100s and see how the entrance passage to the Maeshowe Tomb is perfectly aligned with the setting of the midwinter sun. This historic site has very limited accessibility due to the nature of the tomb, with an exceptionally narrow and low entrance passage. The app offers an alternative where you can still explore the site, albeit virtually.
Download the Explore Maeshowe app for free from Google Play here
Download the Explore Maeshowe app for free from the App Store here
The Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim
Northern Ireland’s iconic geological wonder can be explored from the comfort of your home thanks to the National Trust’s virtual tours. Get up close and personal with the stunning 360-degree images. The National Trust has also given a great description of how to explore the images using your mouse, keyboard or the on-screen icons. The Giant’s Causeway has a 4.2 rating on Euan’s Guide with reviewers praising its visitor centre.
To explore the virtual tours visit NationalTrust.org.uk/giants-causeway/features/take-a-virtual-tour-of-the-giants-causeway
The Roman Baths, Bath
Travel back to Roman Britain and explore one of the best preserved Roman ruins in the world with the 3D model of Bath’s Roman Baths. If this virtual tour makes you want to visit in person then you’ll be pleased to hear that the Roman Baths have a five-star review on Euan’s Guide thanks to well positioned lifts and ramps.
Visit RomanBaths.co.uk/3d-model-roman-baths-and-pump-room to explore the 3D model.
Our primary focus has and always will be on helping people find accessible places to go. We hope to continue the forum as an extension of our review website. The great thing about it is that users can shape and mould it to be whatever they would like it to be. They could continue to use it as a place to share ideas of what to watch and listen to and do while at home, or they could use it to ask questions before visiting somewhere new and share more about their experience at the places they visit, like what public transport options had good levels of accessibility and other handy tips they wish they’d known before visiting.
Article originally appeared in Jun/Jul 20 issue of PosAbility Magazine
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