Disabled to get full picture from guide

November 13, 2002 10:15
Each year thousands of visitors flock to Norwich to catch a glimpse of a beautiful city that is renowned for its culture and history.

Many sightseers spend quiet afternoons climbing the steps to City Hall or taking a peaceful stroll up the cobbled lane at Elm Hill.

But have any of us fortunate enough to be active and in good health spared a thought for the challenges faced by the city's disabled visitors?

Well, one blind tourist with a passion for the city has compiled The Disabled Traveller's Guide to Norwich.

Janet Pinkerton Baker, 52, has spent five months on a detailed study of disabled access and facilities at the city's top tourist attractions. Her travels took her to places including Norwich Castle, the Cathedral, the Market and Elm Hill.

Mrs Pinkerton Baker, a mother-of-three, said she was delighted that most of the disabled facilities in Norwich were of a high standard.

"I have been to many cities, but I have to say the disabled facilities I found in Norwich were some of the best," she said.

Particularly impressive were the disabled amenities at the Castle Keep, the Assembly House and the Cathedral.

"The castle has been adapted for wheelchair users to see as much of the keep as possible. In-house wheelchairs are also available for those with mobility problems," she said.

"At the Assembly House there is wheelchair access and toilets. Upstairs there is also a café open on a Monday for support to carers of memory- affected disability."

But a trip to the Bridewell Museum proved more difficult. "This museum is not wheelchair-friendly as you have to go up and down stairs. There is no loop system or sign language available and as tours are guided this is a shame, although the museum is well worth seeing," she said.

Mrs Pinkerton Baker has been registered blind for 12 years after suffering a stroke.

She came up with the idea for producing the guide after a disastrous holiday to Malta. "It was totally impossible for me to have any independence as the streets were in such a poor condition. I could not go out anywhere unaccompanied and I decided disabled people should not have to suffer in this way," she said.

Mrs Pinkerton Baker, of Romford, Essex, has written the guide to help those with physical, sensory, medical and mobility difficulties. It will be available next January and will be distributed to disabled associations and tourist information centres. It is published by Pronto Print, Barking, and will cost between £1 and £1.50.

Mrs Pinkerton Baker now plans to compile the Disabled Traveller's Guide for Yarmouth and Lowestoft. She is keen to hear from businesses that would like to be listed. For more details, contact her on 020 8252 6550 or e-mail forthedisabled@aol.com