We recently caught up with Louise Kirby from Hull’s spectacular aquarium The Deep, to hear what impact their Changing Places toilet, which was installed three years ago, has made.

From enabling sleepovers and new events specifically designed for disabled visitors, to giving people the option of staying longer in the city centre, we discussed some of the ways in which the fully accessible facility has helped disabled people and their families to more fully experience the Yorkshire attraction.

What have been the benefits to visitors of having a Changing Places toilet at The Deep?

It has enabled existing disabled visitors to enjoy a much smoother and enjoyable visit as it meets their needs better than our accessible toilets.

We also hope that these visitors may have then been able to go on to enjoy other activities in the local area, whereas previously they may have had to shorten their day out. It has also enabled some people for whom The Deep was inaccessible previously to now choose us for their day out.

Has the number of disabled visitors increased?

We are lacking a little in hard stats due to the disrupted last 18 months! However, we believe that the addition of the Changing Places toilet has positively changed the number of disabled visitors choosing to come to The Deep. Before lockdown we also welcomed some children’s groups for sleepovers which included children who used the Changing Places toilet, without which they would not have been able to stay overnight.



Have you made any other changes at The Deep, accessibility-wise?

We continually review and develop our accessibility, from a current review of the tactile ‘props’ our guides have available for visitors, to expanding our range of social stories to include more of our products (e.g. education visits and sleepovers). We are currently working with Concrete Youth  to support them in a funding bid to be able to offer sensory story massages (and a longer-term plan 2023/24 for a sensory theatre production) within The Deep, to children with profound and multiple disabilities. Concrete Youth have said that the Changing Places toilet is essential for them to be able to consider The Deep as a venue for the audience and we are very much looking forward to working with them to help them deliver these fabulous projects.

What advice would you give to other museums and other tourist attractions about installing a Changing Places toilet?

The Changing Places toilet has become so ‘essential’ to The Deep that we aren’t sure how we did without it before! It makes both Crew and visitors lives so much easier. Please consider branding the Changing Places toilet so that it isn’t ‘clinical’ – we get great feedback that ours is a welcoming space as well as practical.

How has the pandemic impacted on The Deep?

The pandemic has been devastating to The Deep, with only 17 weeks of trading allowed since the first lockdown. The Deep is an environmental and education charity and is self-funding, therefore reliant on being able to trade. Throughout lockdown our aquarist team has continued to deliver the same excellent care to the animals but this routine, of course, did mean that outgoing costs remained high throughout closure. We are delighted to have reopened to welcome back visitors. Safety measures currently include: restricted visitor numbers, pre-booked tickets, face coverings as per legislation, a one-way visitor route and an increased cleaning regime. We will continue to follow Government guidelines with regards to Covid restrictions.

About The Deep

Opened in Hull in 2002, The Deep is an education and conservation charity. It is also one of the most spectacular aquariums in the world, home to amazing species including sharks, rays, loggerhead sea turtles and penguins. It is also the only aquarium in the UK where you can view the iconic and critically endangered Green sawfish.

Offering a great day out, The Deep is committed to accessibility for all, so regularly review, update and add to their range of tools and information to ensure an accessible day out.



The team at Aveso are passionate about Changing Places toilets. They have supported the official Changing Places campaign since 2013, and can provide free, expert advice on all aspects of the Changing Places planning and design process.

Astor Bannerman installed the Changing Places toilet at the Deep.


Astor Bannerman offer the full range of products specified by Changing Places regulations, including fixed and mobile changing tables, hoists, height adjustable washbasins, toilets and accessories. They are always developing new products, and are proud to have developed the Astor Invincible, the first changing table designed specifically for Changing Places toilets.