VocalEyes charity publishes state of museum access report for 2016

Post date: 
Tuesday, 24 January 2017

The charitable organisation VocalEyes have published their state of museum access report for last year. Concerningly, the findings were not positive. With 90% of museums not offering any accessible services or tours to those who have low vision, it’s clear there is work to be done in this area.

The key statistics from the report are as follows:

  • 27% of UK museums provide no access information on their website for disabled visitors planning a visit.
  • Only 30% of UK museums provide information on their website that would be useful for a blind or partially-sighted person planning a visit.
  • Only 18% of museums publicise labels or information for their exhibits in Large Print.
  • Only 10% of museums publicise live audio-described tours / handling sessions for blind and partially sighted visitors.
  • Only 5% are taking advantage of websites that provide detailed access audits such as DisabledGo.com and Euans’ Guide.

Download the full report.

It’s crucial that accessibility information is available on the museum’s website, as planning is a key step in an outing if you’re blind or partially sighted. Fazilet Hadi, Director of Engagement at RNIB and VocalEyes Trustee, said:

“It’s very disappointing to see the low priority given to disabled customers. We should be able to enjoy the richness of art and heritage, alongside other citizens. Galleries, Museums and heritage sites should be building accessibility into their everyday customer service. Adjustments made for disabled people will benefit everyone.”

The Equality Act 2010 requires organisations to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that disabled people can access their buildings and services. It’s not clear that this is being met in many of the establishments in the UK. However, what is clear is the role of disability charities in helping to cultivate a change of attitude and approach to accessibility in museums and other places of culture. Once it’s clear that an accessible and proactive approach results in more customers, it’s likely that establishments will feel that tailoring and publicising their services to disabled people is a benefit to business and to society.

How RNIB are helping to improve accessibility to museums

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) is partnering with five museum services in south east England to launch a “buddy” scheme designed to make museums more accessible for people with sight loss.

Under the Heritage Buddy Scheme, volunteers will help blind and partially-sighted visitors with their visit, providing them with tailored information and support.

The participating museum services are Oxford University Museums, Canterbury Museums and Galleries (with Canterbury Library and Canterbury Cathedral), Lewes Castle in Sussex (part of the Sussex Archaeological Society), the Conan Doyle Collection in Portsmouth (part of Portsmouth Council and Libraries), and the Royal Pavilion and Museums in Brighton and Hove.

The scheme is part of the Sensing Culture partnership - find out more about the partnership

Read the full article from DisabledGo for more information. 

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