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Accessing Heritage - public lecture

Anna Fineman (Vocal Eyes): Whose heritage? Supporting equal access for blind and visually impaired people

Cultural and natural heritage sites regularly exclude blind and visually impaired visitors, through lack of accessible interpretation. This talk will explore inclusive practice, and how people with sight loss can be better represented and supported at museums and heritage venues. Audio Description is a key means of bringing places and stories to life. Methods of employing Audio Description will be discussed, and illustrated with recent examples of good practice. Suggestions will be made for how people working in or researching heritage can contribute to increased accessibility for visually impaired visitors.

Anna Fineman is the Museums, Galleries and Heritage Programme Manager for VocalEyes, working with museums and heritage sites across the UK to improve accessibility for blind and visually impaired visitors. She has a wide educational background that includes a BA in Social Psychology, a PGCE, and an MA in Art Gallery & Museum Studies. Anna takes an audience-focused approach, and is dedicated to exploring creative ways to support broader access to cultural and natural heritage.

Dr Ellen Adams (KCL): Integrating access into the mainstream

This paper presents a project that explores, among other things, whether access provision has benefits beyond the target audience. For example, might audio description enhance art appreciation for a sighted person? And can performative storytelling in British Sign Language engage a mainstream audience as well as provide access for Deaf people? Blind Gain and Deaf Gain are movements to promote and celebrate the status of having a sensory impairment. This project explores whether the access strategies developed in response to blindness and deafness can offer fresh insights into art appreciation for the sighted/hearing visitor. This paper will focus on activities based around the Parthenon Galleries in the British Museum.

Dr Ellen Adams is Senior Lecturer in Classical Art and Archaeology in the Department of Classics at King’s College London. Her original area of specialism was the archaeology of Minoan Crete. Recently, she has turned to an investigation of art appreciation through the lens of museums’ access programmes.

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