Belfast’s convention centre has announced various accessibility enhancements across its site to support increased participation, and aims to deliver on its values as a venue “that celebrates diversity and champions inclusivity.”
The venue recently hosted more than 500 delegates as part of the Harkin International Disability Employment Summit, a legacy of which is a new, permanent Changing Places in the Riverside Foyer, the installation of which was funded by Belfast City Council. Changing Places toilets are larger accessible toilets for severely disabled people, with equipment such as hoists, curtains, adult-sized changing benches and space for carers.
Sinead Grimes, Director of Physical Programmes at Belfast City Council, said: “We are proud to work alongside ICC Belfast to deliver the needed addition of a Changing Places toilet. […] We want to do everything we can to ensure that our city caters to the needs of as many people as possible.”
Also, over 80 percent of ICC Belfast staff is said to have completed JAM card training. JAM, which stands for Just a Minute, is a concept developed by social enterprise NOW Group, that supports customers to communicate their accessibility needs discreetly, highlighting that they may need a little extra time and patience during their visit.
“Belfast City Council, as part of the new Belfast tourism strategy, will also be rolling out an accessible tourism programme to build capacity and skills within the tourism sector, and we will continue to utilise the Harkin Summit to learn from global best practice – a catalyst to further progress future policy work and initiatives in this area”, Sinead Grimes announced.
In addition, a Social Narrative Accessibility Video has been created which supports delegates to arrive at the venue and feel comfortable knowing that they can understand how to navigate their surroundings with the support of subtitles.
Julia Corkey, Chief Executive of ICC Belfast, said: “Thanks to this investment by Belfast City Council, we are better equipped to fulfil our ambitious goals and attract global events to the city.”
Continuing to attract conferencing and business events to Belfast is considered a critical driver in the region’s economic recovery. According to Tourism Northern Ireland’s recently launched Integrated Strategy for Business Events in Northern Ireland, it is estimated that the sector could deliver around 244 million Euros in direct economic impact, and up to 2,000 new jobs by 2030.