Disability Equality Scheme

Statement of general principles

The National Gallery is committed to the widest possible access to the national collection of painting in the Western European tradition from 1250 to 1900, which it houses, conserves and displays. The paintings are held for everyone regardless of education, income, residence, or personal circumstances. The Gallery's aim is to make physical access to the collection as easy as possible for all; to enable everyone as far as possible to have access to scholarship and information about the collection; and to allow everyone to enjoy and study the collection in as many ways as possible.

As a service provider and equal opportunities employer, the Gallery complies with the Equalities Act 2010. The Gallery has an in-house Access working group, responsible for improving equality in all aspects of the Gallery’s services and ensuring we meet legal requirements and regulations.

Involving disabled people in improving access to the Gallery's collection and its supporting facilities

The Gallery has had an active Access Working Group since 1995 whose role is to review the Gallery's provision for visitors and staff with disabilities; to make improvements where and when possible; and to develop a programme for the future. The Gallery has involved and consulted disabled people in devising and developing its programmes.

The Gallery's aim is to make physical access to the collection as easy as possible for all; to enable everyone to enjoy and study the collection in as many ways as possible and to ensure access to information and scholarship about the collection and the work of the Gallery.

The National Gallery’s five key strategic objectives are to:

  • Preserve, enhance and develop the potential of our collection for our public
  • Broaden our appeal and enhance our visitor experience
  • Inspire learning and engagement
  • Invest in our staff
  • Increase income and care for our physical facilities.

Buildings and associated services

The Gallery seeks to provide all visitors with access to the building, making alternative provision where required, within the constraints of a Grade One Listed Building. It ensures that current and future building projects provide appropriate physical access for all visitors. Expert advice is sought where required. Some of the facilities we provide include:

  • Wheelchairs – available on request upon arrival at the Gallery
  • Stools available from the Information Desks on request. Visitors are welcome to bring their own folding stool. Pre-booked groups of adults can request stools in advance of their visit at the point of making a booking with the education department
  • Four entrances have level access: the Getty, Sainsbury Wing, National Café and Pigott Education Centre entrances, and there are lifts between all floors
  • Assistance dogs are welcome
  • Adapted toilets, baby changing rooms, drinking fountains and first aid rooms are located around the building
  • There is one access parking bay available by booking in advance of a visit. Phone 020 7747 2885 or e-mail information@ng-london.org.uk
  • Induction loops at Information Desks, in conference room facilities and for theatre talks and films.

The National Gallery's Disability Equality Scheme will be reviewed and updated regularly.

Safety in the building

The Gallery takes account of the needs of all visitors in all our safety procedures. It is the policy of the Gallery to enable all occupants of the building to be evacuated at the same time in an emergency.

The Gallery provides uniformed staff trained in responding to emergencies, including fire safety and first aid incidents.

Information and signage 

The Gallery aims to provide information in forms that are accessible to all visitors. Some of the resources we provide include:

  • Large print versions of the floor plan
  • Large print labels – for the collection and temporary exhibition.

Digital access

We provide digital access to our collection and resources on and offsite in the following ways:

  • Through our website
  • Through social media channels
  • Through the medium of film and audio content 
  • Wi-Fi in the Gallery and other public areas
  • Audio Guide with commentaries on over 1000 paintings in the National Gallery Collection. There is also a choice of themed tours and an Audio Tour of 80 highlights of the collection in English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Dutch, Polish, Korean and Portuguese. Transcripts for the collection tours can be requested from Information Desks. A media guide in British Sign Language (BSL) and an audio described tour for blind and partially sighted visitors are available
  • Films accompanying temporary exhibitions are subtitled
  • Films available on the website are subtitled and transcribed.

The Gallery reviews digital access regularly. Audience requirements are determined through research, testing, and feedback. We have designed the website to standards that make it easy for our audiences to get the information they need:

Read about website accessibility 

Learning about the collection

The Gallery delivers a wide range of learning programmes for different audiences, designed to suit different levels of knowledge, backgrounds, interests, and learning styles.

The Gallery continues to consult people with disabilities, specialist organisations, and other museums and galleries, on the best and most practical ways of improving intellectual access. Some of the services we provide include:

  • Free sessions for blind and partially sighted visitors
  • BSL-interpreted talks and tours for visitors who are deaf or hard of hearing 
  • Live speech-to-text captioning provided by STAGETEXT
  • SEN resources and taught sessions for children
  • Tactile line diagrams and Braille interpretation of a small selection of paintings
  • Exhibition tickets – visitors with access requirements are eligible for concessions on exhibition tickets and may bring an escort free of charge. Tickets must be booked in advance. Phone 020 7747 2885 or email tickets@ng-london.org.uk

Employment and training

The Gallery ensures that its employment practices do not discriminate against people with disabilities and maintains a system for monitoring and reviewing procedures.

Equality and diversity awareness forms an integral part of induction training for all new staff in visitor facing roles. 

The National Gallery Access Group meets regularly to discuss improvements to the Gallery's provision and to agree upon recommendations for further action. Recommendations from the Group are approved by and implemented through the Executive Committee, and, where appropriate, by the Trustees.