First Ever Museum Zoom Tour for People with Sight Loss in NI

Post date: 
Monday, 21 September 2020
Dr Jackie Witherow and Kathryn Thomson standing in museum foyer

Sight loss charity the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has been working with National Museums NI to ensure its four sites are more accessible for blind and partially sighted people. 

After months of collaboration and focus groups with blind and partially sighted people, the first ever remote engagement workshop from the Ulster Museum in Belfast will take place on Monday, September 28. The subject of the workshop will be one of the museum’s most famous residents - Takabuti the Egyptian Mummy. 

RNIB Northern Ireland has also thanked National Museums NI for distributing RNIB best practice guidance to its Visitor Services staff at the Ulster Museum, the Ulster Folk Museum, Ulster Transport Museum and Ulster American Folk Park. 

The guidance raises awareness of issues currently facing blind and partially sighted people when trying to maintain safe social distancing and advises staff on how best to ensure the needs of visitors with sight loss are being met. 

RNIB’s Community Access Worker Olive Rodgers, who led the work with the museum, said: “We’ve been working with National Museums NI on various projects over the past eighteen months. In June we held a focus group with managers from National Museums NI who listened to people with sight loss tell them about issues they encounter when visiting the sites. National Museums NI took on board this feedback and have been working with us on a range of introductions to all sites.  

“Part of the next stage of this ongoing work will be talks via Zoom and this is very exciting. The first subject is Takabuti the Egyptian Mummy.”   

National Museums NI is playing a leading role making culture accessible for all. RNIB and other partners such as Guide Dogs NI, Age NI, Autism NI and Now Group have been working with National Museums NI to develop an Access for All strategy. As part of this strategy the museum is piloting a series of access platforms, including these remote engagement sessions to develop a long-term offer of engagement for the widest possible audience to enjoy the museum’s collections and all they have to offer.  

Olive added: “We’re now planning a series of on-site access visits with the same facilitators to do a similar talk. This is just the beginning of what we hope will be a really positive relationship with National Museums NI.” 

Kathryn Thomson, Chief Executive of National Museums NI, said: “As part of the reopening plans across our museums, National Museums NI set out to ensure the inclusion of all communities. 

“Through our Access for All strategy, developed in partnership with several organisations representing communities more acutely affected by the impact of isolation, we have designed accessible, welcoming, and safe experiences and spaces for all.

“We are very pleased to be working with the Royal National Institute of Blind People to showcase our collections through a new medium that makes the treasures of the Ulster Museum more accessible than ever before for blind and partially sighted people.”

Read RNIB’s best practice guidance

For info on visiting and to book a visit, visit NMNI.com

Notes to Editors: 

For further media enquiries, contact Laura Cummings via email on: [email protected], or by phone on 07763 579 141.