A Sense of the Past

Post date: 
Tuesday, 1 April 2014
Northern Ireland

This Heritage Lottery funded project presents insights into the social history of blindness in Northern Ireland from 1800, through wartime, right up to present day.

This project provides the first social history of blindness in Northern Ireland with this fascinating book and interactive, accessible exhibition. Local inspirational figures, such  as sportswoman Janet Gray, adventurer Mark Polock and David Mann, Chair of RNIB NI and 'A Sense of the Past' steering group member have made personal contributions to this project.

The accompanying exhibition features artifacts and personal stories of those living with sight loss within Northern Ireland throughout the past 200 years.

Project launch

The formal launch of 'A Sense of the Past' book and accompanying exhibition took place on Thursday 16 January 2014 in the Performance Area, Linenhall Library, Belfast.

David Mann, Chair of RNIB NI and 'A Sense of the Past' steering group member spoke of his involvement in this project. "A lot has changed for blind and partially sighted people over the last two hundred years. Once objects of pity, we now assert our rights to self-determination and full inclusion in society. Changes in legislation and in technology over the past century have opened up ever wider horizons, but society still puts many unjustifiable barriers in our way. The historical perspective which this exhibition and book afford us should serve to strengthen the determination of RNIB and of blind and partially sighted individuals to continue the struggle for a more equal and inclusive society in which we can play a full role."

The publication and exhibition has had a wealth of input from members of the blind and partially sighted community in Northern Ireland and the interactive and accessible exhibition utilises the 'Pen Friend' which is an accessible media tool to allow blind and partially sighted visitors to listen to a narrative of information contained on six display panels covering chapters within the book.

The book and exhibition

'A Sense of the Past', the publication, will be available, from 16 January, in accessible reading formats, such as braille, large print and audio. Contact RNIB Belfast for more information.

Museums in Focus

The Museums in Focus project brings 'A Sense of the Past' exhibition and accompanying book, on its NI-wide tour

'A Sense of the Past' explores the social history of blindness in Northern Ireland from the 1800's, through war time to the present day.

About the project

The Museums in Focus project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, supports the museums hosting the exhibition, to fully engage with their blind or partially sighted visitors.

RNIB NI will deliver an awareness training course to staff at each venue to increase knowledge and skills of the staff working directly with blind and partially sighted customers. Each museum will also acquire a set of Penfriend audio labelling devices to make future exhibitions accessible.

A best practice video will be created to demonstrate the 'perfect visit' to a museum for people with sight loss. This will be hosted on www.sensoryengagement.com and can be used as a training and learning tool for other museums and exhibition venues.

Venues and dates

  • Craigavon Museum, Lough Neagh Discovery Centre, 5 January – 27 February 2015
  • Burnavon Museum Cookstown, 2 April - 30 April 2015
  • Coleraine Museum, 1 May - 30 June 2015
  • Tower Museum Derry/Londonderry, 1 July - 31 August 2015
  • Armagh County Museum, 1 September - 30 October 2015
  • Linen Centre Lisburn, 2 November - 22 December 2015
  • Jordanstown school Jordanstown, 5 January 16 - 1 February 2016

Additional dates will be announced soon.

For more information on upcoming venues and dates of this fascinating exhibition, contact RNIB NI

Tel: 028 9032 9373
Email: rnibni@rnib.org.uk

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