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VocalEyes to offer training to help museums make their websites more accessible

The National Lottery Heritage Fund has awarded £1m to 17 organisations to improve digital skills in the sector. Photograph courtesy of Manchester Museum

VocalEyes, a charity supporting blind and visually impaired people to access culture, has been awarded £99,814 from a £1m pot, part of the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Digital Skills for Heritage initiative to support volunteers to contribute and develop their digital skills.

Its Museum and Heritage Access 2022 project will train more than 30 volunteers from deaf, disabled and neurodivergent communities to ensure that museum and heritage websites are digitally accessible.

This will involve creating benchmarks of digital accessibility, recording disability access information, performing basic web accessibility tests on heritage websites, delivering workshops for museum and heritage staff to improve online access information.

Volunteers to assess 3,000+ websites

Museum and Heritage Access 2022 will take place from January to December 2022 starting with the recruitment of a Project and Volunteer Engagement Manager and volunteers.

From March the Museum and Heritage Access 2022 volunteers will visit the websites of more than 3,000 museum and heritage venues across the UK. They will assess the access information provided that supports visitors to that venue and check the accessibility of that information.

The collated data will be used as the basis for a report, the latest in Vocal eyes’ annual series of sector access reports and audience surveys, which will include benchmarking and guidelines for best practice, followed by a series of dissemination workshops run by the project team, expert advisors and volunteer researchers.

Supporting D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people

“This support means D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people will have the opportunity to gain heritage volunteering experience and contribute to vital access and inclusion work in the sector.” Joanna Wood, VocalEyes Chair, said.

A total of 17 museum and heritage project have been awarded grants as part of the Lottery funding, which will create hundreds of digital volunteering roles across the UK.

Ros Kerslake, The National Lottery Heritage Fund CEO, said: “Volunteers play a crucial role in supporting and sharing the UK’s heritage. Thanks to National Lottery players we are delighted to support these trailblazing projects as they create exciting new digital volunteering opportunities, helping to break down barriers and inspire the sector to get even more people involved in the heritage they love.”

Digitising Multilingual Heritage

As part of the initiative, Manchester Museum has received £64,782 to deliver its Digitising Multilingual Heritage project that will showcase the city’s linguistic diversity and foster pride in diverse linguistic heritage.

“Through its unique participatory approach to translation, we hope to create a shared sense of belonging and model for multilingual engagement that can be adapted and developed by other organisations,” said Director, Esme Ward.

“This project presents an exciting and timely opportunity for Manchester Museum to grow our digital volunteering community and connect new people to our collections through the development of a Multilingual Museum Digital Platform.”

The Fund will also be publishing results from its second Digital Attitudes and Skills for Heritage survey in early 2022.

About the author – Adrian Murphy

Adrian is the Editor of MuseumNext and has 20 years’ experience as a journalist, half of which has been writing for the cultural sector.

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