1st November 2016 • Tower Bridge Blog
Autism Friendly Early Opening
Last month, for the very first time, Tower Bridge Exhibition opened its doors early to offer a warm, relaxed welcome to our visitors who have autism, and their families.
Families signed up in advance to secure a spot to visit the Bridge from 08.30 before the Exhibition opened to the general public.
Tower Bridge provides a lively, varied and surprising trip for all the family. Our towers are cavernous, atmospheric spaces, lit to evoke how they would have been when Victorians walked their floors. Our high-level Walkways are a real contrast: bright and enclosed, busy with excited visitors…and of course with our famous Glass Floor! Finally, our Victorian Engine Rooms transport visitors to the Age of Steam, with magnificent machines which pump, wheeze and amaze.
For some, as much as this environment provides delight and enjoyment, it can also lead to a sense of overwhelm and anxiety, especially when the Exhibition is very busy with visitors.
To try to alleviate some of that anxiety, therefore, we opened up early, capping the number of visitors and putting a number of other measures into place. We switched off our hand dryers, replacing them with paper towels, as the noise they create can be alarming to some. Similarly we switched off or turned down our multi-media displays. And we created a ‘chill out’ area for families to use should they need a calmer, quieter space to be.
We also produced this visual story, which families were able to use ahead of their visit, so that everyone knew what to expect, and could feel ready and excited for the trip.
Families who visited were able to take part in our Family Learning activities (this month we were making sailing boats to race!) and explore the Exhibition at their own pace.
We will be running further early openings for visitors with autism and other needs from April 2017. Check our website for details.