A Deaf-Friendly Experience at Go Ape

It’s been a while since I’ve been high up in a forest scrambling through an obstacle course like some budding adventurer. So, when the team at Go Ape got in touch asking if I’d like to see how deaf friendly their activity is, (and bring some friends along too) of course I said yes, ready to relive some nostalgia that the experience may bring.

Young man in blue jumper holding a certificate next to a monkey statue

For those who don’t know, Go Ape! is a high-wire treetop course full of fun obstacles and challenges, swings, zipwires, and more soggy bottoms than an episode of The Great British Bake Off (let’s just say that some of my zip wire landings were far from graceful or heroic).

As well as knowing that it would be a grand day out, I was intrigued to see what changes Go Ape had made to make the activity more accessible to deaf people. I remembered reading an article about some deaf customers being refused entry to Go Ape last year, and so was curious to see what new procedures were now in place.

Even before I set foot on the site, I was sent some videos of the training that’s given to customers, with a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter in the corner of the screen. Granted, whilst I only know a little bit of BSL and am certainly not fluent, one imagines that the videos are quite a useful resource for profoundly deaf visitors. I definitely felt a reassuring sense of déja vu when I was shown the ropes – quite literally, in fact – in person when I went to the Woburn site on Monday.

So, after going through a brief training course – with instructions given by a nice chap named Adam – myself and my friend Josh were ready to do the real thing. At this point, I should mention just how great a job the instructors do at making sure the rules are clear and that everyone is confident with what they are doing. Again, after watching the videos I mentioned and going through it in person, it’s likely that fellow deaf people will feel pretty confident about things when they take on the course for themselves.

This brings me on to a discussion I was having with another member of staff whilst we were putting our stuff in a locker. I had seen that there is a whistle available on the belts we have to wear, but I saw that if you needed help and assistance, you could also shout down to people on patrol below you. However, for deaf people who are unable to speak, I was interested in finding out what exactly happens when they find themselves in a pickle.

It turns out there were a few cases where people had come to the course in advance to get a sense of things, or had an instructor follow them around the obstacles. Whilst it may be worth Go Ape having a think about a go-to policy for this, as mentioned above, all the extensive training beforehand does a good job of making people comfortable and confident – thus reducing the chances of any mishaps.

Also, a quick thank you must go to Kieran, another staff member at the Woburn site that let us skip ahead one course so we didn’t have to wait behind some slower customers. We blazed through the course like the true adventurers we are, and it certainly didn’t feel like an hour and a half since we were putting on our harnesses. Time flies!

Speaking of the course, I’ll keep my description vague (so that there’s still that sense of surprise should you wish to go yourself, and because it’s far better to describe these things in video form instead), but the pictures with clear instructions certainly help participants get to grips with each activity/obstacle, which is fantastic. Highlights included the zipwires, pulling several muscles whilst trying to conquer the stirrups, and The Tarzan Swing – where for a brief second, you can experience a sense of freefall which is incredible.

I would like to thank Go Ape such an incredible day out – I really appreciate it. The company is certainly making some great steps towards making Go Ape more accessible for deaf people, and that’s great to see.

Whilst I was offered this experience for free, the opinions within this post are my own and this post is not sponsored by anyone.


T.G.I. Thursday: An Opportunistic Day

You may remember a while back that I was unsure whether to do Journalism and PR at university, or a just Journalism degree, thankfully, today definitely helped me to answer this question.

My school held a careers fair today. Two organisations sounded interesting and were at the fair, and I spoke to them.

One was the local radio station. This interested me because I host my own radio show at school, love music, and wouldn’t mind going into radio hosting/radio journalism.

They recommended an apprenticeship scheme, which sounded very interesting!

Lastly, the second was a local PR agency. I asked the representative about Journalism and PR. In particular, whether just a Journalism degree get you into PR, and it does!

Therefore, I left the careers fair with a lot of useful tips and info, and with the idea that I want to do an NCTJ approved course at university! Woohoo!


The Confusion of Journalism

OK, so there may be something in “the life of a thinker” that I’m not really going into detail about. This being education, university etc etc… Why? Well, short answer, it’s quite confusing!

For a while, I’ve enjoyed the normal flow of education. There were years where learning mattered, until “upper school” where GCSE’s mattered. Then, when they’re done, A-Levels give you a nudge, and you take them. Now? I’m awaiting the prod from university. But this is where things get confusing…

Apprenticeships are another option , but before I go into detail about that. I guess I should say first that I want to be a journalist or PR manger. Basically, anything under the large business group of “writing” I wouldn’t mind going into… But here’s the problem, jobs involving writing are very competitive.

So I’ve had a look for all the hints and tips when it comes to landing a job in the PR or Journalism industry. In most instances, what matters most is experience.

Already I’ve got a lot of experience, and I’m still looking for more. But alongside that, I need a qualification of some sort.

Now, immediately, one would go and get a Journalism degree. But in my position, I want a degree where I can get into journalism, but PR as well! So what other options are there?

Conveniently, a small group of universities offer a Journalism and PR course – great! But despite this covering both areas I want to go into, the journalism side isn’t approved by the NCTJ.

Back in the time where I was researching the courses, media organisations always admire NCTJ-approved courses. So theoretically, the Journalism side of the Journalism and PR degree would be a waste of time and money.

So the two options are Journalism or Journalism and PR. But what I’ve come to realise is that an NCTJ approved Journalism is likely to get me into PR. It’s very confusing!

Fortunately, I’ve still got some time to contemplate and make my decision!