It was to look take a close look at the venue (my 3rd visit); a hotel which some delegates may be using; and Manchester Piccadilly railway station where delegates travelling by train are likely to arrive.
I started by taking a walk-through of the smart QHotels Midland Manchester (the late George Best was a regular guest) to see what access was like in the public areas and also to the 10 designated accessible rooms that they offer.
There is ramped access to the front entrance and level access to the rear entrance via automatic doors. Induction loop is available in reception and there is a lowered section of check-in desk. Lift access is provided to the bedrooms and a platform lift (or steps) to the restaurant and bar areas. A few areas such as the hairdressers, the Health Club and one meeting room are not currently fully wheelchair accessible, but at least the hotel is aware of that.
Of the 10 designated rooms for disabled guests, five have a bath and five a level access shower, with a variety of room layouts (twins/doubles and interconnecting rooms). There are fire refuge areas on these floors for guests who cannot walk unaided to the emergency exits. If you'd like to see what I saw on the day please check out these YouTube videos:
QHotels Midland Manchester - Entrances, Reception and Lifts
QHotels Midland Manchester - Designated Accessible Room 320
QHotels Midland Manchester - More Designated Accessible Rooms
The next day, my first appointment was with Manchester Central - the venue for the MS Life 2014 event. Having been here several times before, it was great to see that they have been making adjustments ever since I left the site last time. So much so, that it was hard to identify anything that still needed to be done, so there was a much shorter list at the end of the morning.
Then onto Manchester Piccadilly railway station for a meeting with Network Rail, Metrolink and Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM). This would help to identify any potential issues for delegates using the public transport network in what is a very busy city centre. I then went on a walkabout with Dave Partington MBE the Co-ordinator for TfGM who identified the facilities currently on offer both within the station itself and also the transport links into the city centre.
I made a short film about access for wheelchair users onto the Metroshuttle buses and Metrolink trams from the railway station which can again be seen at the link below on YouTube if you wish:
Wheelchair access onto Metroshuttle and Metrolink trams in Manchester
Whilst in Manchester I also went to see the new Changing Places WC beside the town hall and also filmed the facility so that it gives you an idea of what you might find inside the door:
Changing Places WC beside Manchester Town Hall - August 2013
It's good to see how much continues to be done to make Manchester more user friendly for all visitors.
If you have an opinion about how Manchester looks from your point of view - then please do get in touch with me.