Wheal Martyn Clay Works in St Austell has launched their first ever British Sign Language (BSL) tour, to help Deaf visitors that use BSL to gain a deeper understanding of the clay mine’s unique history.
With over 50,000 people in the UK using BSL as their first language, English may be difficult for some to fully understand, so providing written information or using subtitles in films may not be enough. By producing a BSL guided tour, Wheal Martyn will help their Deaf visitors to gain a better appreciation of the history of the site and become much more involved in their visit.
The new BSL tour consists of a number of short 60-90 second film clips, created and presented by a volunteer BSL signer, who learns the history of the site and then interprets it in a way that is engaging and informative for other Deaf users. The clips are then downloaded onto tablets which visitors can request from reception on arrival, and carry around the attraction at their own pace.
Paul Valentine, the BSL signer that presents the Wheal Martyn tour, stated: “I hope that the new BSL tour will encourage other Deaf people in the UK to visit the China Clay Mining Museum in Cornwall, as Wheal Martyn provides a great opportunity to discover how China Clay was mined, processed and used, in a format that helps Deaf BSL users gain a more in-depth understanding."
The new BSL tour at Wheal Martyn was created and delivered by the Heritage Ability Project team, in partnership with the staff at Wheal Martyn.
Nikita Brown, Exhibition and Engagement Officer for Wheal Martyn stated: “We are really pleased to have the new BSL guide, as we hope it will enhance the experience for our Deaf visitors.
“Wheal Martyn are committed to becoming more accessible to a range of different users and our work with Heritage Ability has allowed us to take big leaps forward.”
Heritage Ability Project is a three-year initiative, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, created to support over 20 sites across the South West to become more accessible for people with disabilities and Deaf people using BSL.
Maryann Soper, Manager of Heritage Ability said: “Having grown up near Wheal Martyn, it’s a pleasure to be working closely with the team, helping to develop new tools to tell their story to a wider audience.”
Heritage Ability is the brainchild of Living Options Devon, a local user-led charity, where all of their initiatives are developed or supported by people who have a first-hand understanding of the challenges faced by disabled people and Deaf people.