Groundbreaking accessibility initiative launches on World Elephant Day at Chester Zoo
Chester Zoo has become the first zoo in the UK to create interactive signage to support the D/deaf community.
The zoo has announced its groundbreaking collaboration to improve accessibility for British Sign Language (BSL) users with Deafness Support Network (DSN) on World Elephant Day which is today, August 12, 2023.
The project aims to create a more inclusive environment at Chester Zoo for people who use BSL as their first language – so every visitor can fully experience the wonders of the charity zoo.
The initiative has started with the introduction of a BSL interpretation on the boards at the Elephant habitat.
Visitors can scan QR codes on their smartphone and then watch a BSL video featuring Lisa Birtles – a deaf woman and native BSL user who is also a BSL tutor for DSN.
Lisa believes that this initiative will revolutionise the zoo experience for BSL users, allowing them to connect with the experience on a profound level.
Lisa commented: “As a BSL interpreter, I understand the impact of effective communication. I am honoured to be part of this project, working alongside Chester Zoo to make the zoo accessible to all BSL users. By bringing the conservation stories about elephants to life through BSL interpretation, we can create an extraordinary experience for BSL users, fostering a deeper connection with the animal kingdom.”
Lauren Walker, Digital Learning Manager at Chester Zoo has helped to lead the project. She said: “Chester Zoo understands the importance of breaking down communication barriers, and the BSL videos will support members of the D/deaf community access information about the magnificent Asian elephants in an engaging and meaningful way.”
Gill Reeder, Executive Operations at the Deafness Support Network, expressed her excitement about the new signs. She said: “We are thrilled to be working alongside Chester Zoo to make this important change. Our collaboration is a testament to the power of working together, as we strive to create a more inclusive environment that recognises the needs of the BSL community. On World Elephant Day, we celebrate the progress we have made and look forward to continuing this journey toward accessibility for all.”
Zoë Batchelor, Interpretation Manager at Chester Zoo, emphasised the zoo‘s dedication to accessibility and innovation. She said: “At Chester Zoo, we believe that every visitor should have the opportunity to connect with wildlife and learn about conservation. The introduction of BSL interpretation on our signage is a significant step in our ongoing efforts to make the zoo accessible to all.
“Visitors can access the BSL videos effortlessly using QR codes placed on the side of the existing boards, where users can learn about amazing Asian elephants and their characteristics. We’re proud to pioneer the first BSL interpreted animal habitat, and are hoping to expand this initiative throughout the zoo in the future.” Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com