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 and five museum partners, which 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.

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

The museums will now begin to develop their exhibitions to meet the aims of their projects and the RNIB will provide sight awareness training to front of house staff and offer support to the partners each step of the way.

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