Accessible gardens is an on-line directory that provide first person accounts from people with a disability on their visitor’s experience of  public gardens around the U.K.. It was founded in 2011 by  Bella D’Arcy Reed to share information about accessibility of gardens and offer guidance on how to make gardens more accessible so that more people with varied disabilities can enjoy them.

For garden designers, there is a guide on how to apply the DDA regulations in a sensible way here. The guide focuses on designing with larger aims than just meeting the letter of the law.

National Trust Gardens at Mottisfont Abbey
National Trust Gardens at Mottisfont Abbey

The tips I found useful:

  • Leave generous level space on paths after a ramp. One example she provides is a perfectly legal graded ramp ending in at a T-junction facing a wall that can be daunting for wheelchair users who worry about crashing into it. I worry about steep ramps leading straight into walls with only a small turning space at the bottom to make a corner.
  • Widen paths from the 1.2 metre recommendation to 1.5 metres to make room for others get by and provide some space for the person behind the wheelchair to be able to talk to the person in the wheelchair.
  • Leave a parking space for a wheelchair or buggy next to seating areas
  • Have seats with and without arms as those with upper body issues may find it easier to push off from an armrest or the bench itself depending on their impairment.
  • Make sure plants do not obstruct pathways and will not hit a wheelchair user or child in the face
  • Provide hard surface that are level for wheelchair users, but textured and non-slip for walkers with restricted mobility

If you would like to help Bella with independent accessibility reports, the site welcomes reviews written by people with disabilities, their family and friends that can be submitted to [email protected]

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