HMS Unicorn Dundee

with No Comments

HMS Unicorn is one of the world’s six oldest floating ships, now a fast-developing museum and successful visitor attraction in Dundee. Built in 1824, she is Scotland’s oldest ship and is the most completely original ship in the world to have survived from the golden age of sail. Since she came to Dundee to act as a Royal Navy Reserve training ship in 1873 and was gifted to The Unicorn Preservation Society, her history has intertwined with the people of Scotland by providing high-class learning experiences to all.

This has been the mission since it opened as a museum: to make the enjoyable learning experience that the ship offers available to all. However, accessibility at HMS Unicorn, especially for those with additional mobility needs, has always been challenged by the physical features of the ship, which maintain its originality and uniqueness, but conflict with the mission statement, learning and inclusion policies. Making the visitor experience on board HMS Unicorn as accessible as possible has become paramount in order to reach out to as many audiences as possible and to improve visitor experiences.

Today we are hearing from Andrea A. Campomanes the Learning & Engagement Officer of HMS Unicorn, giving us an insight in the different accessibility features that have been added over the years.

What accessible information and facilities do you provide for your customers?
On our website we provide detailed information about our accessibility in our Access Statement. A copy of this document can also be requested via email.  New accessible toilets will be open to the public by Summer 2019. These will be access by a code system provided by HMS Unicorn Front of House staff.

At the moment we are in the process of organising a BSL guided tour. Once we have evaluated its success and visitor impact, we will discuss the possibility of incorporating a recurring BSL tour for our temporary exhibitions. HMS Unicorn was awarded an ‘Autism Awareness Award’ certificate by Angus Autism in December 2017. All staff and a number of volunteers took part in this instructive training. We work closely with volunteers from The Inclusion Group, Dundee and regularly hosts visits from groups such as Options in Life and Capability Scotland. We are currently exploring hosting a workshop on Unicorn as part of Enable Scotland’s ‘Be the change’ campaign.

What improvements have been made to services over recent years?
All the accessible information and facilities mentioned above have been implemented over recent years.

We are aware that we can always do more to improve access to our exhibitions and collections. We have partnered with PAMIS to improve intellectual access to our heritage for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities. We hope that the improvements coming from this partnership will have a positive impact not only for visitors with learning disabilities, but also meeting the expectations of visitors with mobility and sensory disabilities, as well as visitors with additional support needs and those who care for them.


What made you decide to include a virtual tour into your visitor experience? What was your process of carrying this out?
There have been many improvements at HMS Unicorn regarding our accessibility. However, for those people with reduced mobility or on a wheelchair, their visit to HMS Unicorn was reduced to only a 25% of the visit – or no visit at all. We wished to change that. Our Virtual Tour will allow visitors that cannot use the stairs in the ship to visit her four decks and move around the decks as they would do on board. As we develop the virtual tour, some important features in the ship will be clickable and virtual visitors will be able to interact with them! This project has allowed us to go above and beyond our expectations, as it will feature areas of the ship that are currently not accessible at all to visitors for Health & Safety reasons. The tour will be fully accessible on our website, and we are planning to launch it on the 16th of March for Disabled Access Day.
What has the feedback been like from the changes made to your services to improve accessibility?
We have received very positive feedback, both from visitors and supporting organisations such as Euan’s Guide. On the 16th of March, when the virtual tour is launched, we will carry out an audience survey to gather feedback and make improvements.
What promotions and special deals are available, is anything new in the pipeline?
We are offering a free guided tour for visitors in a wheelchair or with reduced mobility on the 16th of March, link below:


Follow Claire D'All:

I graduated from the University of Dundee in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Applied Computing. During my studies the field that I had a great interest in was web development however since graduating I have also become very interested in accessibility. I was born with Congenital Muscular Dystrophy and since the age of 3 I have used a wheelchair 24/7. Due to my disability I have always come across problems regarding accessibility, which is why it’s such a passion for me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Font Resize