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Accessible heritage sites for all

Project update: Four Devon destinations now have BSL videos in time for Deaf Awareness Week!

Date Posted: 14 May 2018

Just in time for Deaf Awareness Week (14-20 May), we're delighted to have delivered tablets loaded with British Sign Language (BSL) videos to four Devon heritage destinations! Seaton Wetlands, Seaton Jurassic, National Trust Killerton and Kents Cavern are now more accessible than ever for BSL users.

The BSL videos have been created and presented by volunteers from the Deaf community. Each volunteer has taken the time to learn about the heritage of each place and then interpret it in a way that is engaging and informative for other Deaf users. Over the next two years, visitors to all 20 Heritage Ability destinations will be able use tablets at the sites loaded with BSL videos.

Paul Valentine, a Deaf volunteer for Heritage Ability said: “I really enjoy going for days out to places like Kents Cavern and Killerton as I have a real passion for heritage, but often I can’t fully understand any of the history or family stories when I get there. I really wanted to help make a difference to the Deaf community so they could enjoy these places like everyone else, which is why I got involved with Heritage Ability. It’s been really fun to learn about these places and interpret their history for other BSL users. I really hope that over time other places in the country will be inspired by the work that we have done.”

For many Deaf people, English is their second language. This means that simply providing written information or subtitles on videos is not always enough. The videos will be available to view online and can be viewed on a tablet at the site as they journey around the attraction.

Maryann Soper, Project Manager at Heritage Ability said: “Before working for this scheme I naively had no idea how inaccessible written information was for British Sign Language users. I’m now appreciating how visually led the Deaf community are, and how their culture is strong in story-telling and joke-telling. It’s not enough to just provide interpretation in the English language, as the words don’t always have a meaning or exist in BSL. It’s really rewarding to be able to open up these heritage places for a new audience, so they can have engaging experiences like everyone else.”

To watch the videos, head over to our YouTube channel here.