Overview

Sensing Culture has been a three-year multi-partner project with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) as the lead partner, and funded by £438,900 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) with one mission at its heart – to remove the barriers that prevent blind and partially sighted people (BPS) from accessing their heritage.

It was born from an identified need within access organisations’, as well as the heritage sector atlarge, that more could and should be done to facilitate good museum experiences for people who experience sight loss.

Working with blind and partially sighted audiences to open up heritage at museums, landmarks, archives and collections.

Aims

The aims of Sensing Culture were to:

  1. Enable project partners to provide and promote exemplar services to open-up collections and increase sustainable heritage learning opportunities for blind and partially sighted (BPS) people. This was to be done via:- Training and development of skills for staff and volunteers
    – Enabling blind and partially sighted staff and volunteers to act as ambassadors and mentors
    – Creating a network of professionals to collaborate, share experiences and efficiencies, and learn from each other
  2. Increase heritage learning opportunities for blind and partially sighted people, enabling them and volunteers to independently learn about and access their heritage.
  3. Enable blind and partially sighted visitors and project participants to take part in activities to influence change by being involved in local heritage decision making and learning networks.
  4. Improve blind and partially sighted people’s experience of heritage, encouraging and providing access for those who are not currently prepared or able to visit, and to facilitate the learning of new skills relating to it.
  5. Support staff and volunteers in working with blind and partially sighted participants, using an innovative approach to engage with the blind and partially sighted community and make more effective use of volunteers.

Partners

Over the three years, four main partner organisations’ worked with their sites and collections in new and innovative ways – building bridges to blind communities and to ‘learn by doing’ within their sites so that learning could be shared more widely to the benefit of all.

  1. Canterbury City Council Museums & Canterbury Cathedral / Beaney House of Art and Knowledge
  2. Oxford University Museums and Collections / Museum of Natural History
  3. Arthur Conan Doyle Collection, The Richard Lancelyn Green Bequest (Portsmouth City Council)
  4. Sussex Archaeological Society / Lewes Castle

Sensing Culture brought the partners together under the umbrella of one project title, led and advised by RNIB, to work with their sites and collections in new and innovative ways – building bridges to blind communities and to ‘learn by doing’ within their sites so that learning could be shared more widely to the benefit of all. This website provides a snapshot of the project learning and aims to inspire others to explore what can be done within their own context.

Case Studies and Resource cards in PDF format

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