National Accessible Scheme
What is the National Accessible Scheme (NAS)?
The National Accessible Scheme (or NAS) is a voluntary scheme to which tourism providers can subscribe, in order to accurately promote the facilities they offer to disabled guests or older visitors.
Many proprietors in Britain have been developing facilities that they intend will meet these criteria when they are inspected by agencies working on behalf of VisitBritain – the tourism authority for Britain.
VisitBritain administers the NAS, which was drawn up over several years in consultation with disabled people, specialist service providers and tourism industry representatives.
The NAS is being used to help identify how accessible the accommodation is to people who may have difficulty walking, use a wheelchair, wear a hearing aid or have impaired eyesight.
All properties that display a symbol identifying that they subscribe to the NAS should have been independently assessed by well-trained inspectors to ensure that they meet the criteria.
Why is there a National Accessible Scheme?
The NAS was developed to help people identify suitable accommodation more easily, rather than have to thumb through countless entries in guides or having to click on hundreds of websites to find any information at all.
It also helps proprietors to identify themselves to the public when they have developed truly accessible facilities and services.
Descriptions and logos for the National Accessible Scheme:
If you have particular mobility, visual or hearing needs, look out for our National Accessible Scheme. You can be confident of finding accommodation or attractions that meet your needs by looking for the following symbols. Properties and attractions displaying these symbols will have met the National Accessible Scheme criteria.
Typically suitable for a person with sufficient mobility to climb a flight of steps but would benefit from fixtures and fittings to aid balance.
Typically suitable for a person with restricted walking ability and for those that may need to use a wheelchair some of the time and can negotiate a maximum of three steps.
Typically suitable for a person who depends on the use of a wheelchair and transfers unaided to and from the wheelchair in a seated position. This person may be an independent traveller.
Typically suitable for a person who depends on the use of a wheelchair in a seated position. This person also requires personal or mechanical assistance (eg carer, hoist).
Access Exceptional: provides for all levels of mobility impairment listed above with reference to the British Standard BS 8300:2001. Achieves the standards above for either independent wheelchair users or assisted wheelchair users and fulfils additional, more demanding requirements.
Typically provides key additional services and facilities to meet the needs of visually impaired guests.
Typically provides key additional services and facilities to meet the needs of guests with hearing impairment.
Typically provides a higher level of additional services and facilities to meet the needs of guests with visual impairment.
Typically provides a higher level of additional services and facilities to meet the needs of guests with hearing impairment.
How does the National Accessible Scheme work?
Accommodation in Britain is extremely diverse - from remote cottages in the countryside through to modern city centre hotels.
In some circumstances, it may not be possible for a property to be completely wheelchair accessible, although most proprietors are aware that they need to make their properties as accessible as possible under Part III of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.
The NAS takes that into account where for example some proprietors do not have ground floor bedrooms or space for a lift, they may have made sufficient changes for someone who uses a walking stick, or has a sensory impairment.
Accommodation providers are invited to participate, and are re-assessed for their access and facilities at least every three years, sometimes more often if for example, they have upgraded the facilities, or there has been a change of ownership.
Ask proprietors if they work to the NAS when you make a booking.
Feedback from some proprietors
Self-Catering Accommodation, Cornwall
"We have a two-bedroom cottage with disabled access, we're registered in the National Accessible Scheme and we've been pleasantly surprised by the number of bookings," says the owner. "In our first year of business, families with a disabled or elderly person have accounted for 35% of our bookings. What's more, most of them have told us that they would recommend our accommodation to others."
He is so pleased with bookings that he is looking at building a second cottage for up to four guests.
This is a B&B with a ground-floor bedroom and large en-suite wheel-in shower.
"This has helped a wide range of guests, including disabled people," says the owner'. "We've been able to accommodate older guests who prefer not to climb stairs, guests with heavy luggage and a guest with a broken leg."
"We have a lot of loyalty among our guests, some of whom have returned many times and become friends. The National Accessible Scheme has helped people to identify what we have on offer."