The museum is fully accessible to wheelchair users, who should be able to enjoy their visit as much as any other visitor.
The museum is on two floors and the ground floor is divided into a street-level gallery (with level entrance) and a mezzanine area. Power operated sliding doors are installed at the entrance and these are usually automatic in operation, but sometimes have to be opened by staff for security reasons. Just knock on the door if the doors do not open right away.
Two lifts are provided. No staff assistance or key is needed to use them.An open platform lift carries you up to the mezzanine area. You can do it yourself, but staff will be pleased to help on request. There is access from the mezzanine floor to the wharf outside. A ramp is provided outside the rear door. From the mezzanine a second lift, this time an enclosed platform lift, takes you up to the first floor. Remember to press and hold the buttons that take the second lift up and down.
The cabin of the narrowboat Coronis cannot be modified to provide access for wheelchairs because to do so would destroy it. The cabin demonstrates the cramped conditions in which the canal-boat families used to live.
As an alternative we have provided a virtual tour, at the entrance to the narrowboat. Using a track-ball you can explore the interior of the cabin. There are in fact two virtual tours. The first shows the cuboard doors closed, the second shows them open so you can have a look inside. You will be surprised at the excellent view of the cabin that you will have.
The computer that provides the virtual tour also offers the mini-drama using a pair of headphones. Put on the headphones and click on the button in the bottom right hand corner of the screen to listen to the sound track.
We have tried to ensure that our exhibitions are as friendly as possible to wheelchair users. Almost all displays can be seen and texts read from a wheelchair. In a number of cases we have provided hanging books attached by a chain as an alternative for wheelchair users. For example, the two flip-books that explain a lot of extra detail about horses on the streets and canals of London, and about Carlo Gatti and the Ice Trade, are at a height suitable for most people. Hanging book alternatives can be read on your lap.
The museum has a very large, detailed map of the London canal systeom on display in the first floor gallery. Due to the size of this exhibit the detail cannot be read from a wheelchair. We have therefore provided a separate low-level alternative version of the map on wall mounted swinging panels.
The disabled visitors' toilet is located near the main entrance. It is fully equipped for wheelchair users, and fitted with an alarm. If the alarm is activated staff will effect emergency entry with a key.
The shop is quite small and well stocked so you may not be able to reach everything. A low-level counter is provided. Staff will be happy to assist you to browse the books and souvenirs.
An audio tour is available for free download from the podcasts page. It is in MP3 format and must be played on your own MP3 player, Ipod, mobile phone, or pocket computer. The audio tour is entirely suitable for wheelchair users who have normal eyesight and hearing.