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Accessible heritage sites for all

Interview with Nikita Brown on being an Accessibility Ambassador

Date Posted: 30 July 2019

We would like to introduce Nikita Brown, who has taken up the mantle and become an Accessibility Ambassador. Nikita is the Education and Engagement Officer at Wheal Martyn Clay Works, in St Austell.

The Accessibility Ambassador role is a relatively new one, where we encourage exceptional members of staff at our partner sites to become the voice of accessibility. We then aim to support and advise the new ambassador so they can make the changes needed for their site to become more accessible for visitors.

1.    Nikita, how long have you worked for Wheal Martyn, and tell us how you got involved with Heritage Ability?

I joined Wheal Martyn as the Exhibition and Engagement Officer at the end of May 2018 and have now been working here for just over a year. Before this, I worked at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM) in Exeter, as their Audience Development Assistant. It was there that I first learned about the fantastic work being done by Living Options Devon through the Heritage Ability project. So I was thrilled to hear that Wheal Martyn was also a partner organisation.

2.    Why did you decide to become an Ambassador?

I am passionate about making museum community hubs, where all members of the community can feel confident and safe to voice their opinions and take ownership of the museum and its collections. Improving accessibility is one way I can ensure that all visitors feel welcome at Wheal Martyn and have a fantastic museum experience. Also, by becoming an Ambassador, I am able to share my learning with other museums and heritage sites and advocate for improved accessibility.

3.    What do you do as an Accessibility Ambassador at Wheal Martyn?

I look at ways that I can improve the museum experience for all visitors, whether this is creating Sensory Backpacks and Visual Stories, or simply changing the way a gate opens, to make it more accessible for wheelchair users. I also try to embed accessibility in all areas of my work, for instance, when planning a temporary exhibition, I try to ensure that all the senses are stimulated through having a range of different interactive activities.

4.    What difference does having an Ambassador on-site make?

Having an Ambassador on-site ensures that accessibility remains the top priority. When in meetings, it is my role to raise any accessibility queries, and or any concerns I might have.

5.    Is it a lot of extra work?

My role as Exhibition and Engagement Officer is very similar to the requirements of becoming an Accessibility Ambassador. So for me, there isn’t a massive amount of extra work, it's just about being aware of accessibility to exhibitions for all visitors.

6.    What is your proudest achievement within the role so far?

Introducing Relaxed Sessions at Wheal Martyn and seeing families return again and again. Relaxed sessions are quieter sessions especially suited to autistic people, or those with anxiety and associated conditions. This is where they can handle objects and take part in Autistic spectrum Disorder-friendly activities and trails.

7.    What do you plan to do next as an Ambassador?

I am currently working with the Sensory Trust to create a new Sensory Map for Wheal Martyn. I have also recently delivered Disability Awareness training to members of our staff (after being trained by Heritage Ability) and hope to put on a few more sessions in the next few weeks.

8.    Any advice for others interested in becoming an Ambassador?

Do it! There is nothing to lose, and it will help your organisation become more accessible for all visitors.

For more information for becoming an Accessibility Ambassador at one of our partner heritage sites, please contact Claire Rowe, Communications and Engagement Officer, by emailing [email protected].