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The National Archives Accessibility

Accessibility

It is important to us that our building and services are accessible for all visitors and staff.

Information for disabled visitors

At The National Archives, we provide full access to all our public areas; there is a lift to upper floors, and the building and grounds are wheelchair-friendly. We also have a range of facilities in our reading rooms to help you with your research.

Please remember that you must book your visit in advance. If you are visiting with a personal assistant, both of you will need to book your visit and have a valid reader’s ticket.

Please contact us before your visit if you have any queries about accessibility.

Download our accessibility guide.

Car parking for disabled visitors

We have a visitor car park which has level access. The route is at least 3200mm wide.

There are a number of free accessible parking bays at the rear entrance of the building (which are approximately 60 metres from the entrance door). The parking bays are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Please book a space ahead of your visit by calling or emailing us so we can assist as appropriate.

View of accessible parking bays and rear entrance ramp

If the accessible parking bays are full, the main visitors’ car park is approximately 200 metres from the main entrance to the building. Both front and rear entrances are accessible for people who use wheelchairs.

The nearest drop-off point to The National Archives is at the rear of the building adjacent to the designated accessible parking spaces. On arrival, you will pass through a security barrier, where you will need to inform security staff on the intercom whether you are dropping someone off or parking in one of the bays. Please bring your blue badge.

Site facilities

We offer reading aids to visitors who are partially sighted for use in the reading rooms. We do not hold Braille versions of the records. Visitors with little or no sight are advised to bring an assistant who can read or take photographs of documents, but you will both need to book your visit in advance.

The following accessible research facilities are available in the reading rooms:

Magnifying equipment

We recommend a range of magnifying equipment for use in our reading rooms:

  • Magnifying glasses – of which there is only a limited number available in the reading rooms, so we recommend that you bring your own
  • Electronic document magnifiers – these link to screens using CCTV-type technology, which enlarges the text. They can’t be used to read original documents but can be used with books, publications and indexes
  • Ultra-violet (UV) lamps – may be used for a limited time to read faint writing (please ask staff for help). The lamps are located in the Map and Large Document Reading Room, but you can arrange to use them on the first floor. UV lamps must be signed out to readers due to health and safety regulations

Sign language

We have members of staff who can sign. Please note that they may not be available at all times.

Our website has a wide selection of podcast talks, a variety of which have British Sign Language video versions available.

Induction loop systems

The National Archives has induction loop systems at most enquiry desks (Readers Registration Desk, Open Reading Room, Research Enquiries desks, Document Reading Room Information desk, Map and Large Document Reading Room) and in the Talks Room. Please contact us for further information.

Accessible toilets

There are wheelchair accessible toilets on all floors of The National Archives. All of our accessible toilets have level access, some from the lift. The toilet doors are 910mm wide, there is 1200mm in front of the toilet, and the seat is 425mm high with handrails.

Our accessible toilets are located in the following areas:

The Public Restaurant toilets (Ground floor)

These are toilets for men and women in the Public Restaurant area on the ground floor, with an accessible toilet inside.

First floor lift area

This is a public toilet for visitors with accessibility needs. The toilet is located by the lift outside the Research and Enquiries Room on the first floor, with level access.

Entrances and getting around

Both the front and rear entrances to The National Archives are accessible to people who use wheelchairs. The rear entrance is closer to the accessible parking bays.

Outside view of the front entrance porch, outer sliding doors to inner revolving door, and accessible doors

There is level access from the street to the front entrance, and the path is at least 2000mm wide. The outer door of the front entrance is 1050mm wide, sliding and automatic. The inner door is revolving and automatic, with button-activated access doors at either side.

Both the front and rear entrances have touchpad-operated power doors. Doorbells to request assistance from the welcome desk are located outside both entrances.

Indoor areas and access

Welcome Desk
Document Reading Room
Lift access

Welcome Desk (Ground floor)

  • The foyer area is at least 7000mm wide and the door is at least 2000mm wide
  • The Welcome Desk has a low section

Document Reading Room (First floor)

  • From the main entrance to this area, there is level access from the lift
  • From the lift to the Document Reading Room, the route is at least 970mm wide and the narrowest door is 920mm wide
  • Some display information is situated in a low position, and there is seating provided
  • There is a hearing loop and videos have subtitles

Lift access

  • We have one public lift which serves the first and second floors
  • The lift door is 920mm wide. The lift is 900mm wide and 1350mm deep
  • The lift announces and shows the floor number at each floor and the buttons have raised numbers/letters

Emergency Evacuation

We have emergency evacuation procedures for disabled visitors. All public staff are trained to assist with evacuating visitors safely and appropriately.

The fire alarm is a continuous bell with flashing lights.

Outdoor areas and access

Pocket Park

  • At the front of the building and open to all visitors, the ‘Pocket Park’ is a grassy and pebbled area with picnic benches
  • Each route to and from the main entrance and car park is at least 1050mm wide
  • Assistance dogs can be walked and toileted in the park, but please dispose of dog mess in the outdoor bins provided

Smoking area

  • The smoking area has a shelter and level access, and is located through the rear entrance doors
  • The entrance is 1050mm wide

Mobility difficulties

This is a large building, so if you have mobility difficulties, or are using crutches, you may wish to bring someone to assist you. Please remember that both you and your assistant will need to produce two forms of identification if you wish to look at original records.

  • The front entrance is approximately 200 metres from the car park, and approximately 0.75 km from Kew Gardens station
  • There is no bus service to Kew Gardens station, but there is to Richmond station
  • Please ask at the welcome desk if you require a taxi. See Accessible travel for further information

Borrowing wheelchairs

We have three wheelchairs available for visitors, on a first-come, first-served basis. They are kept in the main entrance hall. If you would like further information, please contact us.

Heavy documents

Many documents are fragile and very heavy, and we advise you to take extra care when handling them. If you need help carrying items to your table, please ask a member of staff to assist you.

Assistance dogs

Assistance dogs are welcome in all public areas at The National Archives.

 

 

 

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