ICC Belfast has created accessibility enhancements across its site to support increased participation and deliver on its values as a venue that champions diversity and inclusivity. 

The venue recently hosted more than 500 delegates for the Harkin International Disability Employment Summit. As part of the summit, a permanent ‘Changing Places’ was created in the Riverside Foyer, the installation of which was funded by Belfast City Council. 

Changing Places toilets are larger accessible toilets for severely disabled people, with equipment such as hoists, curtains, adult-sized changing benches and space for carers.  

Sinead Grimes, director of physical programmes at Belfast City Council, said: “We are proud to work alongside ICC Belfast to deliver the needed addition of a Changing Places toilet, the second for the city centre with one already installed at City Hall, and the Council’s 8th Changing Places facility. We are talking about a fundamental human need, and we want to do everything we can to ensure that our city caters to the needs of as many people as possible. 

Belfast City Council, as part of the new Belfast tourism strategy, will also be rolling out an accessible tourism programme to build capacity and skills within the tourism sector and we will continue to utilise the Harkin Summit to learn from global best practice.” 

SYNC Living, a company that supplies specialist products to support people with impaired mobility, installed the Changing Places toilet at ICC Belfast. 

Andrew Smyth, business development manager at SYNC Living, added: “Not having access to suitable facilities means that many people cannot enjoy the same opportunities as others. With that in mind, it’s encouraging to see Belfast City Council and ICC Belfast come together to diversify its offering to cater for people with complex needs.” 

Additional measures 

As well as the Changing Places facility, ICC Belfast has invested in additional enhancements and upgrades – all now permanent legacies of the Harkin Institute selecting the venue as its 2022 Summit location. 

Fo example, over 80% of ICC Belfast staff have completed JAM (Just a Minute) card training. JAM is an initiative developed by social enterprise NOW Group, that supports customers to communicate their accessibility needs discreetly. 

A Social Narrative Accessibility video has also been created. The video aims to support delegates at the venue and help them feel comfortable knowing that they can understand how to navigate their surroundings with the support of subtitles. 

Julia Corkey, chief executive of ICC Belfast, said: “As we and our partners, collaborate to attract business conferences and exhibitions to Belfast, it is vital our city continues to make a collective effort to be as welcoming a space as we can be. A space for everyone to enjoy, regardless of their needs. 

We are committed to investing in our venue on an ongoing basis to ensure that ICC Belfast continues to be accessible and is a place that celebrates diversity and champions inclusion.” 

Source: Conference News

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