Here at Go Ape we pride ourselves on offering an inclusive activity, which is open and accessible to a wide range of people, irrespective of their mental or physical ability.
However, the safety of our visitors is of the utmost important to us so it is sometimes necessary for us to make adjustments to the adventures we offer, to ensure the safety of visitors with different needs.
On Monday we had to put the safety of a deaf customer first, which resulted in the customer and her family not being able to participate on our Tree Top Adventure course at Cannock, for which we are sorry.
In the case of participants who are blind or deaf, we do generally ask that they either have a fully sighted/hearing friend or relative with them to interpret the safety brief and relay any messages as they make their way round the course or that we are given enough notice to allow us to bring in extra instructors who can help instead. We do appreciate that not all participants will let us know in advance and where possible, the site manager will do their very best to accommodate the group, as appropriate, providing it is safe for them to do so.
As such, Claire (the site manager) spoke with the customers to try and ascertain what level of support, if any, would be needed in order for them to take part safely. On this occasion, it was not possible given the conditions to ensure all our important safety rules and advice were understood.
We never want to disappoint our visitors by turning them away and would certainly never exclude someone based purely on the physical or mental ability, alone. However, it is our job to keep people safe at height and if we feel we cannot do this, we have no choice but to ask people not to take part. The decision is never taken lightly and if there had been any other way to resolve the situation, it would have been taken.
A British Sign Language student herself, Claire has worked closely with our Head of Operations to bring in a set of procedures to allow deaf people to more easily take part in our adventures and will continue her studies so she can better communicate with and welcome deaf visitors to Cannock.
In light of this incident, we will review our guidelines and information for participants with additional needs to ensure the information is as clear as possible and easily available to people making bookings online. Claire will also put more emphasis on explaining the more technical parts of the Go Ape experience using BSL.
Once again, we hope Leanne accepts our sincere apologies for her disappointment, inconvenience and negative impression which you have all been left with as a result of what happened on Monday. We take all complaints seriously to help put to rest any concerns customers have regarding our disability policy.
We hope that Leanne will accept our invitation to come back to Go Ape.
For more on our policies regarding disabilities, please click here.