Heritage Access 2022

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Heritage Access 2022 report by VocalEyes, in partnership with Stagetext, Autism in Museums and the Centre for Accessible Environments on accessibility in the UK since 2018.

“The report shows:

  • The amount of online information about access provision at museums and heritage sites has increased significantly since 2018.
  • Far smaller increases were recorded in online information relevant for blind and visually impaired people, D/deaf, deafened, and hard of hearing people, and neurodivergent people – people historically under-recognised as requiring accessibility measures.
  • 19% of museums and heritage sites surveyed have no online access information in both 2018 and 2022, showing no improvement.”

A team of 61 digital volunteers, sharing their experience in museums and heritage sites, brought together the report thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

VocalEyes presents a benchmark tool an online map with a benchmark score on access to information.

The report includes information on online access tools such as web content and guidance on the integrity of online content, best practice examples and 40 different access aids, resources, events and facilities.  Access covers information on physical access, guides, features onsite, flooring, hospitability, sensory environment, braille resources, autism-friendly events and more.

“10 ways to improve your access to information

1. Consult D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people. Ask a range of local people who know your venue well about their experiences and thoughts about barriers to access at your venue. Consult people experienced in providing this information too.

2. Think about the whole journey, from marketing and pre-visit information, getting to your venue, entrances and welcome, and then through the venue, café, shop and even how people can leave feedback afterwards.

3. Provide lots of detail in your access information, such as the number of steps, the width of a doorway. Every piece of detail will be important information for someone. Don’t edit out details. This is not marketing information.

4. Be honest about what you have and what you don’t have. People know that old buildings can be difficult to adapt. Currently no lift to the upper floors? Tell people before they arrive. But also think of other creative ways you can provide access to the space. Conclusion and next steps.

5. Address your reader directly, using the second person “you”. Don’t distance or other them as “disabled visitors.” Online access information should be inclusive, useful and warm in tone. It’s not a legal statement or internal policy document.

6. Enable and encourage people to contact you with questions about access. Offer email and phone number and avoid inaccessible forms. Make sure the mailbox is managed by knowledgeable staff who respond quickly. Visitors may want to come the same or next day.

7. Cover all the senses in your access information: A dark basement room? A noisy café or loud gallery audiovisual? A strong smell from a nearby shop or factory? Cobble stones underfoot? A wobbly bridge? Tell us all.

8. Use different formats. Images and videos on your access page help visitors know in advance what to expect. Video is a great way to provide a BSL introduction, and audio for descriptive directions and introduction. Make sure you use captions, alt text and description too.

9. Show D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people experiencing and enjoying your heritage site, and not just on your access information page. Include as wide a range of people as possible.

10. Review and refresh your access information regularly. It should reflect seasonal or temporary changes at your venue and locally. Are walkways slippery because of ice or rain? Do major roadworks mean that Blue Badge parking is relocated for a period?”

Our take

Heritage Access 2022 is a valuable resource for Museums worldwide to assess and improve their accessibility and engage with local communities. Furthermore, the report offers insights and methods to enhance accessibility and presents benchmarks to follow. We highly recommend reading the report and adding it to your toolkit.

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Heritage Access 2022

HA22 Report – Large Print


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