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Project launches to make museums and heritage sites in the South East accessible to blind people

A new project aimed at opening up museums and culture to people with sight loss in the South East of England has launched.

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The Heritage Lottery Funded ‘Sensing Cultures’ is a partnership project between the RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) and a number of heritage organisations. The five external partners are:

  • The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge and Canterbury Cathedral
  • The Booth Museum of Natural History, Brighton
  • The Conan Doyle Archive, Portsmouth
  • Lewes Castle
  • Oxford University Museums

The project aims to increase independence for visitors by training staff and volunteers at the heritage sites to understand the impact of sight loss and think about the ways they can support people to make the most out of their experience.

At a launch event in London each organisation showcased plans to make their sites and collections more accessible for blind and partially sighted visitors through audio, tactile and sensory exhibitions and tours.

Lewes Castle shared their ‘soundscape’ project which provides an audio trail to represent the views that sighted visitors would see from the top of the castle. The RNIB tactile mapping team also displayed maps they have worked on with previous museums and provided information on how others could get involved.

Lindsey Holmes, RNIB’s Project Manager for Sensing Cultures, said: “This was a really important day for all of the project partners as it marks the start of an exciting adventure.

“It was wonderful to be joined by so many people from a wide range of museums, charities and societies who all have a common aim of creating a more inclusive society.

“We are grateful to the heritage lottery fund without whom this project would not have been possible.”

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The sites will now make their plans come to life as they begin to develop their exhibitions and meet the aims of their projects. RNIB will provide sight awareness training to front of house staff and offer support to the partners each step of the way.

To find out more about Sensing Cultures please email Lindsey on Lindsey.Holmes@rnib.org.uk

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