An important part of our project is making sure we talk directly to blind and partially sighted people.
Advertising through local support groups and the Oxfordshire Association for the Blind, we’ve been able to set up an Advisory Panel for the project of 6 local blind and partially sighted people. They have agreed to meet with us over regular intervals throughout the project and give us their views, opinions and knowledge. Some of the panel members are regular visitors to the university museums, but others are new to our venues.
Our first meeting was in November when everyone came together to the Museum of Natural History for the first time. After a tea, biscuits and water for the guide dogs, we started talking about visiting museums in general and what can make or break a museum visit for a blind or partially sighted person. One of the main themes was the personal interaction between the visitor and the museum staff and volunteers. All our panelists felt that having someone to talk with them and show them around was preferred to audio guides or other forms of technology, as these don’t always suit everyone’s needs. and having staff who were trained in able to guide visitors around also featured highly.
After a lively discussion, we headed out into the museum itself for our panelists to discover the Museum of Natural History’s new “Sensing Evolution” display.
We’re already looking forward to our next meeting in March.