summary of access needs survey

The Bristol Improv Theatre (BIT) is doing work to become more accessible for Disabled people. As part of this, in April and May we ran an Access Needs Survey, to hear from Disabled people who use the theatre, or who have been unable to because of its inaccessibility. Below is a summary of the problems reported, put together by Disabled community member Emma Geen with input from staff, including our Director.

The major recurring themes were:

  1. Difficulties caused by lack of step free access,
  2. Difficulties hearing during classes and the bar space,
  3. Difficulties experienced by some neurodivergent people and people with learning difficulties with cognitive overload during some exercises,
  4. A need for more rigorous Covid measures.

Tone of Feedback

Though positive feedback wasn’t requested, many people gave it anyway. This included several comments about the sensitivity of staff and access needs being taken into consideration. 

However, some people expressed frustrations that it has taken this long for the BIT to address its accessibility. The lack of step free access in particular has meant that some Disabled people have been unable to access shows and courses, causing considerable sadness and hurt in some cases.

Summary of Problems Reported

Building Barriers


  1. Lack of step free access,
  2. The main stairs are steep and cause difficulties, even to those who can use them,
  3. No step free access to the bar space stage,
  4. Problems with the acoustics, particularly during classes and at the bar,
  5. A need for better COVID safety measures,
  6. Theatre space stairs too steep and seating is cramped,
  7. Upstairs toilets are hard to lock.


  1. Lack of appropriate parking (especially accessible parking) for vehicles of all types,
  2. Outside stairs needs lighting and a rail,
  3. Clearer signage needed outside the building,
  4. No dropped kerb close to the building or an easy route from the closest bus stop.


  1. Hearing players can be hard and the lighting too bright,
  2. The ability to book specific seats to meet access needs is needed,
  3. A process to support people who don’t already have a strong network in the community to feel welcomed at jams is needed,
  4. No accessible offerings for BSL users.

Classes and other opportunities

  1. Some neurodivergent people reported that certain exercises don’t meet their access needs.  Flexibility and structures to accommodate the specific needs of students in any given class are needed, 
  2. Some people reported that cognitive overload can be caused by some exercises. Structures to minimise this are needed,
  3. Other comments included difficulties with pricing, and course rotation.


  1. Difficulties with the website included:
    1. Too many pages,
    2. Difficulties with the calendar function,
    3. A need for more accessibility functions.

The Bristol Improv Theatre acknowledges these shortcomings and barriers to access. We offer our sincere apologies for the exclusion and hurt that these barriers have caused. We value the Disabled members of our community and are committed to improving our accessibility so that the Disabled people who are currently unable to access the building can be brought into the heart of our spaces and community. 

We understand that trust is regained through actions, not words, and aim to demonstrate our commitment to accessibility and inclusion through our actions on access over the coming months.

We will soon be publishing a blog post outlining the actions already taken, those coming soon, and those we’re seeking funding for. 

This is an ongoing process, and some things will take longer to rectify than others, but we are dedicated to making the theatre a more accessible space, and a more accessible organisation, and keeping our community updated. We will continue to post public updates to hold ourselves accountable. 

If you have any other thoughts you’d like to add, you can get in touch via email at, or call us on 07936 617158.

The Bristol Improv Theatre would like to thank the theatre’s Disability Advisory Working Group, made up of volunteers from our community with lived experience of Disability, for their time and support in creating and reviewing the Access Needs Survey.

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Millie Haswell