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In Touch with Art is Europe’s leading conference about museums, heritage and people with vision impairment, due to take place at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London from 13-14 October 2010. This blog discusses the perspectives on equal access to museums for people with vision impairment.

Some thoughts around the power of the audio guide from Wendy Moor - audio guide writer and producer

11 October 2010

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In his blog William Philips talks about a recent ‘Secret Shopper’ survey of Hampshire cultural sites. He says that "nearly everyone who carried out the survey said an audio guide would help them to negotiate and enjoy the sites." So – as vision impaired visitors have themselves identified the potential of this medium to meet their needs, museums and heritage sites should feel confident that making it a central part of their access provision will be a worthwhile exercise....

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Cassie Herschel-Shorland asks what makes a museum or gallery environment accessible?

10 October 2010

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Inclusive exhibition design I would like to pick-up on Marcus's questions about why new exhibitions and museums are still opened without being accessible to all? What makes a museum or gallery environment accessible? A simplified definition of 'inclusive design' that I use when working towards inclusive exhibitions is 'design that provides choice and flexibility for people'. This sounds straightforward and obvious when explained in a design team meeting or project workshop, but it is too often...

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Siegfried Saerberg from ‘Blinde und Kunst’ gives a poetic description of his tactile exploration of a work of art

6 October 2010

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There are many barriers for blind people in museums when they want to touch the exhibits. Touch is said to spoil or damage the works of art through chemical pollution and extractions of the skin. However, not all objects that could be touched are being made available for meaningful touching. Very few works of art are allowed for touching and often only by using handling gloves. ‘Blinde und Kunst’ (Blind People and Art), deploy all the senses: smell, touch and sound. I view cognitive...

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Louise Fryer gives an overview of the value and drawbacks of using tactile images to make collections more accessible

3 October 2010

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Through my work with VocalEyes, I have trained staff in museums across the country to help make collections more accessible to blind and partially sighted visitors. For curators hoping to make collections accessible to blind and partially sighted people, especially in these cash-strapped times, tactile images can seem like a godsend. They look good, they are relatively cheap to produce and every blind person can ‘read’ by touch – or can they? A little while ago, I spent a...

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Marcus Weisen on waking up to cultural rights!

10 September 2010

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Crippen's culture cartoon

DAO kindly invited me to contribute a blog to add to the lively exchange about equal access to museums, galleries and heritage for visually impaired people begun by Will Phillips There could hardly be a better start than William’s many reflections on remaining barriers. Here is a museum professional who can see both sides of the coin and rightly suggests that more could be done. When large print and Braille information are routinely missing, when intellectual access to the collections is...

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William Phillips discusses access to museums and galleries for visually impaired people

1 September 2010

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portrait of the author wearing a green jacket in an outdoor setting

I am employed by Hampshire County Council Museums Service and have responsibility for maintaining two Collections; Historic Cameras and Militaria. Along with my professional concerns I have an interest in how the blind community and other comparable groups access museum collections, exhibitions and services. I am registered blind and have had much experience of access issues professionally and personally, as a user and a provider of public access. One way in which the difficulty of restricted...

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