Welcome to EMBED: A collaboration for a fresh approach to inclusive practice in the Heritage Sector

DCN and Embed Logos

Since 2015, DCN has developed relationships with professionals across industries and sectors. 

The biggest learning from this is collaboration is key, learning from other organisations and sectors about what it takes to create sustainable change in embedding inclusion and accessibility.  

DCN are now taking this to the next level – Disability Collaborative Network C.I.C is now a member of EMBED – a recently founded consortium of professional independent consultants that offer in excess of 30 years’ experience in the development and cultural transformation of organisations across private sector including corporate, public sector and charitable sector.

Working together our goal is to support museums and heritage organisations of whatever size and budget to develop and deliver sustainable business change, change that shifts the culture of an organisation to becoming inclusive for its employees, voluntary staff, and visitors.  

Ultimately we aim to empower organisations to become more disability confident, identify and remove and to increase and support disabled and neurodivergent people working and being part of all sectors.

Sarah Simcoe, Director of DMS (Wirral) Ltd and Founder of EMBED, was in conversation with Becki Morris about what EMBED is all about and what opportunities it presents for the Heritage Sector:

What is your background Sarah?

For over 25 years I worked for finance and IT organisations supporting the delivery of operations and services for private and public sectors. Throughout my time in those businesses I certainly became a Jill of all trades, you name it and I’ve probably done it.  But what I became known for was strategy, transformation and organisational change, and in particular how equality, diversity, inclusion and accessibility form an intrinsic part of that activity. My passion is people and supporting other organisations to offer the most inclusive environment possible, an environment where we enable and empower our people, deliver the best service to our customers and understand our impact on society.

Why did you set up EMBED?

I left the world of corporate early in 2018 after making the decision to work full time in the Diversity and Inclusion space. Pretty quickly my views were confirmed, that often it can be difficult for some organisations and sectors to access the services that consultants like me offer.  This can be because it is too expensive, or it can be overwhelming if huge change is being suggested or the buy-in from the organisation isn’t quite there. So with that in mind, I got the thinking cap on around how I can change that, from my small part of the world, how can I make a difference to those organisations. 

That’s were EMBED was born – EMBED is a consortium of professional independent consultants that offer in excess of 30 years’ experience in the development and cultural transformation of organisations across private sector including corporate, public sector and charitable sector.  This transformation and cultural change, at its core, is about equality, diversity, inclusion and accessibility.

The core purpose of EMBED is to offer a cost effective cross-sector expert based model that is able to call on sector or topic specific experts to work with clients.  Our EMBED model offers an informed, structured and planned approach to embedding real change. One size does not fit all, and we take a user-led and business-led approach to ensuring that each piece of work we deliver is fully aligned to the needs and constraints of that particular organisation.

What does it mean for the Heritage Sector?

For those of you working in the Heritage Sector having access to DCN already gives you a blueprint for working towards better, innovative access for disabled visitors and inclusive policies and practices for disabled employees. Now that DCN has become part of the EMBED Consortium we can help Heritage Sector members to understand the interplay between disability inclusion and other equality strands such as Gender and LGBTQ+. It also provides you with an opportunity to learn from best practice across other sectors – learning from each other and collaboration really are important tools for change and so with our unique approach to offering cross-sector expertise, we aim to leverage that as part of your journey towards inclusion and accessibility.

We are a tiny museum with limited funds, how can EMBED support us?

With any piece of work we start with understanding where you are today and where you feel you need to get to; this will include your challenges and constraints including working with very limited budgets.  We will then work with you to build an appropriate programme of work that feels appropriate, achievable and cost effective.

If you are interested in how EMBED can support you organisation do get in touch via info@musedcn.org.uk and check out the website https://embed.org.uk/

DCN Website

Disability Collaborative Network

Since DCNs launch in 2015, DCN has grown links to the corporate sector, organisations, Government and the Heritage Sector.  

DCN has evolved as a strategy organisation.  It has outgrown its website and its not as accessible as it can be.  

DCN is putting together a plan for a new website which will be:

WCAG AA in Accessibility Standards

A new look and offer for contributors, so we can collectively raise the profile of inclusive practice across the UK and around the world.

There will be more to be added to this list, including testing.  

DCN would be interested to know your suggestions and welcome feedback to the current website.   Please email via info@musedcn.org.uk

Museum Hour: Dyslexia

Disability Collaborative Network

These are responses and further information to the questions given on MuseumHour on Monday 7 October 2019.

Neurodivergent people are innovative and creative thinkers. What can we do to inspire these creative minds to work in the Heritage Sector?

There are articles about how creativity and innovation come from the edge of business.

This is needed to keep businesses and the changing user experience relevant to society. 

The organisation doesn’t do this due to fear or lack of confidence, then the sector or the business is in trouble for not moving forward and at risk of becoming irrelevant.

Useful Resources:

Ref Neurodiversity and Creativity Go Hand in Hand:  (Advertising Week) https://www.advertisingweek360.com/neurodiversity-and-creativity-go-hand-in-hand/

Universal Music Group: https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/universal-music-ceo-david-joseph-why-im-standing-up-for-difference-a4174601.html T

Prof Maggie Snowling and Michael Rosen: https://dyslexiclibrary.com/2019/02/13/why-we-need-to-name-dyslexia-bbc-interview-with-professor-maggie-snowling/

What do you think are the barriers of dyslexic people working in the Heritage Sector?

Some organisations within the Heritage Sector are support neurodivergent people often through flexible working practices, recognition of the individuals’ strengths and development of good management practice. 

However, it is a postcode lottery in identifying who and where these organisations are. 

It is important for museums to establish good working practice which can benefit the entire team and relate directly to the social model, where social barriers need to be recognised, acknowledged and removed. 

Less should be concentrated on the medical model which relates to the individuals responsible for their condition, whereas it may be the organisation which is placing the barriers to the person’s performance.

There are a number of factors in the corporate sector that support neurodivergent people as well as the entire team, such as passport recruitment style processes, with good working practices such as opportunities to plan and good communication.

Useful Resources: 

EMBED https://embed.org.uk/about

AchieveAbility: Neurodiverse Voices: Opening Doors to Employment Report: https://www.achieveability.org.uk/files/1518955206/wac-report_2017_interactive-2.pdf

This report was consulted with neurodivergent people and focuses on the barriers to employment with recommendations. 

ClearTalents is an award-winning online passport solution that supports organisations with recruitment and retention of staff. 

Link to website is here: https://cleartalents.info/

 A person does not need to identify as disabled or neurodivergent, instead everyone in the organisation at all levels creates a passport to identify any reasonable adjustments they would benefit from. 

It covers all of the 9 Protected Characteristics including childcare provision, carer responsibilities, chronic illness, temporary disability as well as developmental disability and neurodiversity.   

Data is collected anonymously and shows the growth of diversity in the workforce of the organisation and be collated overall to the sector. 

This could support how we collect and collate data as well as support in increasing diversity and inclusion in recruitment and retention of disabled and neurodivergent talent.  

If you are interested in knowing more, do get in touch via info@musedcn.org.uk 

CIPD: Neurodiversity At Work: https://www.cipd.co.uk/Images/neurodiversity-at-work_2018_tcm18-37852.pdf

What do you think are the barriers of dyslexic people visiting museums?

There is a strong emphasis currently on condition led processes within museums which mean the person may need to declare their neurodiversity in order to facilitate services such as audio guides or coloured lens.  This shouldn’t be the case and it is easier to have these as a general offer than specific for audiences. 

Sensory Processing Difficulties (sensitivity to light, touch and noise) affects people with Dyspraxia, AD(H)D and Autism.  So, a person with both dyslexia and dyspraxia profiles may have this trait.

It is important for museums to consider their space holistically as well as specific timed offers.  Often people want to visit in their own time, but need to know what information before the visit and enable them to manage the space.

What can we do to reduce barriers with dyslexic people visiting museums?

Its important for museums and the heritage sector as a whole to recognise that not everyone in society will know if they are dyslexic or other neurodivergent profiles.  It is costly for diagnosis and particularly with dyslexia, it is not available via the NHS.  This means that some people may not have the funds to do this, which can impact socially and economically in terms of earning power and the job market. Educational underachievement, (which often means the person does not get sufficient support within the formal education system) costs the economy £1.2 billion per year.

Therefore, if museums are seen as text-based, academic places this can be difficult for people to visit.  Therefore, it is important for museums to consider what interpretation they have in terms of audio guides, audio/visual, graphics and interactives.

Don’t expect people to declare any struggles, as it is highly embarrassing to the person and reflective of past stigma.  Instead, focus on strengths. 

Guidance for text is available via https://www.musedcn.org.uk/2017/01/12/accessible-text-standards-uk/ 

DCN can also offer organisations support in relation to text and interpretation.

Dyslexia has been known for over 100 years, why do you think dyslexic narratives are so low in museum collections?

It’s important to recognise that there are curators and museum staff who are neurodivergent and there have been key research on the history of neurodiversity by Jess Starns, T.R. Miles and Professor Maggie Snowling.

Key articles include:  Prof Maggie Snowling ‘History of Dyslexia Project’ https://dyslexiclibrary.com/2017/11/23/ask-the-expert-maggie-snowling-and-the-history-of-dyslexia-project/

A Brief History of Dyslexia https://dyslexiahistory.web.ox.ac.uk/brief-history-dyslexia

I Am Dyslexic by Thom Davies. This is an excellent film which tells about people’s stories about diagnosis and their lives and occupation choices (contains flashing images)  https://youtu.be/ETlFiOjE8rI

Other Films about Dyslexia:

Don’t Call Me Stupid by Kara Tointon. 
This is an excellent film on Kara’s world with dyslexia.
Part 1: https://youtu.be/L7cfD0PMV84

Part 2: https://youtu.be/vTvsYXrVzfk

Part 3: https://youtu.be/Hajus7Mkzok

Dyslexia and Comedy:  Liz Miele https://youtu.be/lrB58XWpnX8


Becki Morris is a late-diagnosis neurodivergent (dyslexic/dyspraxic) and has worked within the field of neurodiversity for 9 years.  She has worked with Leicester University School of Museum Studies, the National Trust, Universal Music Group and various museums of all sizes and budgets in relation to neurodiversity.

Becki is a Trustee of AchieveAbility and was part of the advocacy group for Neurodiverse Voices: Opening the Doors to Employment (2018).  Becki has membership of the Dyslexia Adult Network which is a group of the major charities and advocates for adults with neurodiversity. She is a Trustee for StageText and Lead Volunteer for Dig-It, Tamworth an organisation supporting families and adults with dyslexia and other neurodivergent profiles.

Becki is part of the EMBED Consortium https://embed.org.uk/about and is a member of the All Parliamentary Party Group for Dyslexia.

Changing Places and Accessible Toilets and My Museum – What Can I Do Tomorrow?

Disability Collaborative Network

Request a FREE Euan’s Guide Red Cord Card to attach to the emergency alarm cords in your facilities. You can order them here: https://www.euansguide.com/news/red-cord-card/

Where is your nearest Changing Places toilets to your organisation? Find out where it is and link it to your website. You can find out where your nearest one is via http://changingplaces.uktoiletmap.org/

You don’t have a Changing Places toilet in your town and city? Talk to DCN about collaborative opportunities to support these vital facilities in towns and cities. Email info@musedcn.org.uk Subject: Changing Places Toilets

DCN can undertake health checks on facilities to ensure they meet current standards, get in touch via info@musedcn.org.uk if you would like this in your organisation.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Disability Collaborative Network

We have tips, case studies, information for inclusive practice in the service provision, working practice and workforce in museums and heritage organisations. These can be of any size, stakeholders and budget.

If you would like to subscribe to our newsletter, email us via info@musedcn.org.uk or DM us via our twitter handle @museumDCN


Disability Collaborative Network


Monday, 01 April 2019


The Disability Collaborative Network welcomed Equality and Diversity heads, Human Resources staff from Museums and Heritage Organisations to hear about an inclusive recruitment tool which supports employers and employees at all levels across the 9 Protective Characteristics. 

For the Heritage Sector, this means a person does not need to identify as disabled or neurodivergent, instead everyone in the organisation creates an online passport to identify any reasonable adjustments they would benefit from. It covers all of the 9 Protected Characteristics including childcare provision, carer responsibilities, chronic illness, temporary disability as well as developmental disability and neurodiversity.   

Data is collected anonymously and shows the growth of diversity in the workforce of the organisation and be collated overall to the sector.

ClearTalents At Work has enabled reductions in staff sickness by 1 day per employee per year. Both ClearTalents in Recruitment and ClearTalents At Work schemes have increased disclosure from 5% to 65%.

ClearTalents At Work supports DSE assessment. The passport has also been used as recruitment and retention (on boarding) tool for apprenticeships and traineeships.

If you would like to know more or would like to hear further information, do get in touch with info@musedcn.org.uk 


Further Information:


DCN was founded by museum professionals in 2015 as an online resource tool for museums and heritage organisations of all sizes, budgets and stakeholders in respect to standards, case studies and information regarding inclusive practice in service provision, workforce and working practice in the sector as a whole.  

Since 2015, we have expanded to connect across sectors, organisations, agencies and individuals in respect to collaboration and best practice for disabled and neurodivergent people.  This includes Central Government, Digital provision, Corporate, Third and Creative Sectors where we have membership of working groups to develop projects, supported initiatives and sharing knowledge with the Heritage Sector.

Becki Morris, Director of Disability Collaborative Network C.I.C.
Email: becki.morris@musedcn.org.uk  Mob:  07455 896213   


For further information regarding ClearTalents go to https://cleartalents.info/

Contact Claire Jones Claire.jones@cleartalents.com 07825 166 136

DCN Review of the Year 2018

Disability Co-operative Network

2018 has been another busy year for DCN in raising the profile of inclusive practice and social barriers to engaging with cultural heritage.  We work to raise the profile and creating opportunities to collaborate and sharing knowledge through strategy, signposting and low-cost practice. This has included delivering talks at events, developing working relationships across sectors, mentoring, signposting and workshops.

We have supported reports for inclusive practice in the workplace including AchieveAbility’s Neurodiverse Voices: Opening the Doors to Employment  https://www.achieveability.org.uk/files/1518955206/wac-report_2017_interactive-2.pdf  as well as attended the report launch of the Westminster Commission on Autism report on ‘fake therapies for autism’ and appeared on Ambitious about Autism Jack Welch’s podcast Episode 11: Autism in Museums with Claire Madge and Mark Barrett.
This link directs to all episodes to Ambitious about Autism podcasts https://bit.ly/2Iz3tQk

DCN has also appeared in ‘I Am Dyslexic’ a crowd-funded film on personal narratives from dyslexic adults on their own journeys through their careers to school-aged children Here is the link: https://youtu.be/ETlFiOjE8rI

We have also been part of talks in relation to the Government Digital Service on website accessibility link for resources and tools here https://bit.ly/2QrTPne and have attended London Accessibility Meet up on inclusive design in technology. We continue to have good relationships with organisations and forums in relation to inclusive technology in particular open source software and tools.

We’ve spoken at a number of events about our work including Cambridge and Oxford Universities, MAP conference on language on the importance of cross-sectoral, intersectional practice and strategy in relation to inclusive practice.  We have also spoken at conferences including ACAS regarding inclusive practice in the workplace.  We have also delivered workshops for a number of agencies including West Midlands Museum Development Annual Conference ‘Solve to Evolve’ and Cultural Inclusion Conference by Every Child Should.

We’ve delivered workshops for West Midlands Museum Development conference and Cultural Inclusion conference, Access for All Areas (Shared Care Scotland) in Scotland on barriers to text and practical advice in reducing barriers to engagement.

We’ve also launched our first informal meet up for Disability Confident scheme in partnership with the Natural History Museum where we had representatives from the V&A, DDCMS, Tate and as well as us and NHM.

Our next event is on the topic of Accessible and Changing Places toilets on 18 January, where we will host with Tate Modern and will have talks and discussions in respect to design, function and need of accessible and Changing Places toilets with families and individuals who as part of the 250,000 who need them.  Link for tickets are here: https://bit.ly/2SB0Ym7

During 2018 we have supported museums of all budgets in encouraging and developing community consultation groups with respect to access strategy and development.

We are part of a working group in relation to inclusive practice in the workplace as well as our own Neurodiverse Museum Professionals Network and Disabled Staff Network and have been in discussions with relevant policyholders, organisations and champions.

DCN is developing projects collaborating with relevant partners for 2019 with respect to service provision and workforce.

We will be regularly updating our website with free resources, information and case studies in 2019. We will also be sharing some exciting news in 2019.

If you are interested in our work and would like to be involved, do email us via info@musedcn.org.uk and keep regularly updated by following @museumDCN


Film: Virtual Reality, Disability and Inclusive Design (Ability Net 2017)

Disability Co-operative Network
There is an excellent talk by AbilityNet on the accessibility of Virtual Reality, particularly barriers to consider (i.e. motion sickness) as well as opportunities.
Speakers are:  Raphael Clegg-Vinell, Senior Accessibility and Usability Consultant, AbilityNet and Mark Walker, Head of Marketing and Communications at AbilityNet
Here is a link: 

New Law on Website Accessibility (inc. NHLF projects)

Disability Co-operative Network

New law to replace EU Directive on Website Accessibility

  • Are you planning a digital project which involves an app or a website?
  • Are you funded by Government (local authority, national etc).
  • Are you aware that the EU Directive on website accessibility is now UK Law?

What is happening?

There is now a law for website accessibility in the UK.  These are called ‘The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No.2) Accessibility Regulations 2018’ and implement the EU Directive on the accessibility of public sector websites and mobile applications.

If you are an organisation which is funded by Government (National, Local Government), it is expected that your website should reach WCAG 2.1 AA or European Equivalent EN 301 549.

The Government Digital Service have provided resources and sharing opportunities to support organisations to do this. These resources have links to meet ups and information, which you can find on this post.
We at DCN are also here to support you in setting up user groups and help you create and implement your access into your organisation.

Further information Government Digital Service:  https://gds.blog.gov.uk/2018/09/24/how-were-helping-public-sector-websites-meet-accessibility-requirements/

Government Digital Service:  What does Accessibility Mean?

Ok, how long have I got?

There are key dates to consider in relation to this law:
You, as an organisation need to comply from 23 September 2019.
All existing public sector websites (this includes any externally funded community projects by a Government funded i.e. public sector organisation) by 22 September 2020.  All mobile applications by 22 June 2021.

What’s coveredDeadline to comply with the regulations
New public sector websites (published after 22 September 2018)22 September 2019
All other public sector websites22 September 2020
Public sector mobile applications22 June 2021

Source: https://gds.blog.gov.uk/2018/09/24/how-were-helping-public-sector-websites-meet-accessibility-requirements/

What do I have to do?

Meet the accessibility standard and provide an access statement (there will be a template for this in early 2019).

Scroll to ‘How to do this and how GDS can help’ via this link https://bit.ly/2qrL4ya on information regarding procurement and evaluation.

Check your website:  Does it reach the AA standard?
There are resources on this post to help you.  Also it is important test your website via a user group.

We at DCN can support you with developing user groups and there are companies such as Ability Net and those listed in resources that can help you.

Write an access statement for your website.

There will be a template available in early 2019.  Subscribe to https://gds.blog.gov.uk/subscribe/ for further details.

I’ve used a consultant, and it says some does, some doesn’t.  What shall I do?

Your organisation needs to provide an access statement to tell the web visitor the areas that don’t meet AA standard and where they can get tools and information in order to make it to AA.

Ensure that your digital project has accessibility from the pre-planning and throughout the project, enabling time to test with users. See link: https://www.gov.uk/service-manual/technology/testing-for-accessibility

What happens if I don’t?

There are opportunities here to develop your website offer to increase engagement to your organisation.  Your organisation may be in breach of the Equality Act 2010.

There are specific tasks that are low cost and simple such as captioning and use of accessibility settings on social media: https://www.musedcn.org.uk/2017/11/19/captioning-your-films-and-videos-stagetext/ and using captions on Youtube https://www.musedcn.org.uk/2018/06/07/how-to-be-more-accessible-on-social-media-snapchat-vimeo/

Organisations using tweetdeck:  https://9to5mac.com/2018/07/03/tweetdeck-image-descriptions/

Using podcasts? Each podcast should have a script, remember to transcribe this as part of your online offer.
There is also new software that transcribes audio information which is available online.  Ensure to check for accuracy.

Resources: Government Resources for Accessibility

Join the government accessibility google group

Over 800 civil servants with an interest in accessibility from over 50 government departments, agencies and organisations:

Accessibility community

> Accessibility Community Google Group

Upcoming accessibility regulations

Accessibility requirements for public sector websites and apps

Read the accessibility guidance in the Service Manual


Making your service accessible: an introduction


  1. Meet level AA of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) as a minimum

Understanding WCAG 2.0

Testing for accessibility

  1. Work on the most commonly used assistive technologies

Testing with assistive technologies

  1. Include people with disabilities in user research

Running research sessions with people with disabilities

A team responsibility

What each role does in a service team

US Gov: Accessibility for teams

Guidance for User Researchers

Find user research participants

Write a recruitment brief

Getting users’ consent for research

Choose a location for user research

Doing user research remotely by phone or video call

Using moderated usability testing

User research in discovery

User research in alpha

User research in beta

User research in live

Home Office Poster: Researching Access Needs – who to include when?

Guidance for Content Designers and Publishers

Writing for user interfaces

Writing for GOV.UK

Writing content for everyone (Blog)

How to create content that works well with screen readers (Blog)

How to make PDFs more accessible

Why GOV.UK content should be published in HTML and not PDF (Blog)

Guidance for Designers and Developers

Accessibility for developers: an introduction

Using progressive enhancement

Design Patterns

Improving accessibility with accessibility acceptance criteria (Blog)

What to do when

How the discovery phase works

How the alpha phase works

How the beta phase works

How the live phase works

Home Office Blog: Working together to achieve accessibility

Internal services

Services for government users

Getting help

Accessibility community

Understand common access needs early

Understanding disabilities and impairments: user profiles

GDS Accessibility Blog: Accessibility and Me Series

Home Office Posters: Dos and don’ts on designing for accessibility

Resources to help you design, build and test accessible interfaces

Design System

Introducing the GOV.UK Design System

GOV.UK Design System

Testing a website

How do automated accessibility checkers compare?

18F Accessibility Guide: Checklist

BBC: Accessibility and Testing with Assistive Technology

Creating the UK government’s accessibility empathy lab (blog)

Technology requirements

Technology Code of Practice

> Make things accessible

Learn more about accessibility

GDS Accessibility Blog

> What we mean when we talk about accessibility

> Consider the range of people that will use your product or service

Accessibility Community: Community Resources

Accessibility resources

Sign up for accessibility workshops

Cross-government events and training in the User-Centred Design Community: Accessibility

Come to the government accessibility meetups

The meetups happen every 3 – 4 months and are promoted in the Google Group

Write ups of previous events


Jess Starns is included in the Disability Power 100 list 2018

Dyspraxic Me

Jess Starns, founder of ‘Dyspraxic Me’ was announced as one of the most influential people with a disability in the UK at a reception at the South Bank Centre last night (Wednesday 17 October).

The Shaw Trust Disability Power 100 List is an annual publication of the 100 most influential disabled people in the UK. More than 700 nominations were received for the 100 places. The Disability Power 100 List is compiled by an independent judging panel, chaired by Kate Nash OBE. Kate is the world’s leading authority in ‘Networkology’ – the science behind the growth of workplace networks and resource groups. In 2007 she was awarded an OBE for services to disabled people. In 2013 she was appointed Ambassador to Disability Rights UK.

Jess set up Dyspraxic Me in 2013 as she couldn’t find any suitable support for young adults with dyspraxia offered practical help to develop skills – so she created the resource that she needed.

In November 2013 Jess received support from Fixers (ITV CSR programme) to make a resource book for other young adults with dyspraxia so they could set up their own support networks. Since then Jess has organised almost monthly workshops in London with practical and fun activities. Attendees can meet other people with dyspraxia and learn a wide variety of skills including cooking, sports, ballet, vlogging, and training to develop assertiveness and social skills.

Jess organises every aspect of the workshops from booking venues and finding experts to deliver the sessions, to updating the website, evaluating the events, and managing the budgets. Jess fundraises and has raised over £13,000 so far. She also organises a yearly Dyspraxia Awareness Week in October, and in November last year 2017 ‘Dyspraxic Me’ became a registered charity. Her work has already been recognised by Downing Street with a Points of Light Award.

Jess works at the British Museum as the Youth Volunteer Coordinator and is passionate about making museums inclusive. She is currently combining these interests with her masters degree in Inclusive Arts Practice. For her MA she’s researching how we interpret and curate the history of labelling people with specific learning difficulties (neurodiversity)

Jess, said “You don’t need to know everything, you just need to know how to find out the answer.”

Nick Bell, Interim Chief Executive of Shaw Trust – a charity helping to transform the lives of young people and adults across the UK and internationally, said: “Congratulations to Jess Starns. The judges were beyond impressed by the standard of nominations but selected the most influential people who are proving that disability or impairment is not a barrier to success. One of our aims for the Disability Power 100 list is to demonstrate to young people that they can achieve their ambitions. At Shaw Trust we work with government, local authorities and employers to support people overcome barriers which hold them back from achieving their potential.”

The full Shaw Trust Disability Power 100 List can be found on www.disabilitypower100.com

A Changing Places toilet for The Hepworth Wakefield

The Hepworth Wakefield

The Hepworth Wakefield was initially contacted by Changing Places campaigner Alison Beevers in 2016, who visited with her family to talk to us about Changing Places, and the difference it can make for families like hers. We explored installing a Changing Places toilet, but at the time were unable to find the funds to do the work. In 2017, Alison got back in touch, and the Senior Management Team agreed to make a case to our Board to invest in a facility using the gallery’s reserves. The Board approved the investment in Autumn 2017.

We worked with Astor Bannerman to identify the best space for the facility, deciding to convert an existing female toilet in the Clore Learning Studios, and turn the neighbouring male toilet into a unisex facility.  We undertook consultation with users, particularly schools, to ensure that this would be suitable for them, and they were incredibly positive about the changes.  Astor Bannerman provided the changing bed, hoist and privacy screen, and we worked with a local contractor to make the changes. We were delighted to open the facility on 10 May 2018, which coincided with Changing Places Looathon on 11 May.

The Changing Places toilet is secured with a RADAR key. We explored several options, including open access, however we decided that for our venue, a RADAR key would be the best choice.  Users that we consulted with advised that they tend to have their own key that they can use, and we felt that this would help provide a sense of independence. We also have a RADAR key available from our Welcome Desk, should any users not have their own.

The housekeeping team carry out regular checks of the Changing Places toilet alongside all our toilets to ensure that there are sufficient supplies, and that all the equipment is working correctly. The Visitor Experience team check that the hoist is back in the charging position overnight. These checks have been incorporated easily and quickly into our procedures, and the impact on staff has been minimal.

The impact on visitors has been huge. We have been able to welcome visitors who may not have otherwise visited the gallery, and they have been able to stay for as long as they wish. All our staff are really invested in the Changing Places toilet, seeing it is a key facility as we strive to be accessible for all, and the positive feedback we’ve received has reinforced how important this is:

@bethfoden1 – Brilliant day out this weekend @HepworthGallery who really GET #inclusion #accessforall @CP_Consortium Thank you for making our treat for Daddy possible

@bethfoden1 – @HepworthGallery is what ALL museums and galleries should be like!

@PeterFoden – Free, family-friendly, noisy, alive, full of connectivities, and totally accessible

Hepworth Toilet tweet commenting on visiting the gallery with the CP toilet was a treat.

Stallholder from one of our fairs – “Congrats on your changing places toilet by the way- my brother needs to use one and I was absolutely delighted to see you’ve installed one – honestly, it’s a lifesaver for wheelchair users and their families!”


DCN Privacy Policy

Disability Collaborative Network

The Disability Collaborative Network (known as DCN) is committed to maintaining the trust and confidence of our users to our website, networks and mailing lists. We want you to know that we do not share personal email lists with any companies and businesses for marketing purposes.  This privacy policy has information on when, how we collect and use personal data and how we store it.

When you visit www.musedcn.org.uk, we use Google Analytics to collect standard internet log information and details of visitor patterns. We use this information to understand how visitors use our website.  Information is processed in a way that does not identify anyone.  We do not make any attempt nor allow Google to find out the identities of visitors using our website.

As part of our events, networks and registration we will ask for your consent to share your email address with us to keep you updated with additional information in relation to access and inclusion in the Heritage Sector.  We will check with you from time to time that you are happy and satisfied with this process.

We do not rent or trade email lists with other businesses or organisations. We do not use a third party provider such as MailChimp.

We use Ping for our Neurodiverse Museum Professionals Group, our privacy policy in relation to this facility is here: https://ndmuspgrp.ning.com/main/authorization/privacyPolicy?previousUrl=https%3A%2F%2Fndmuspgrp.ning.com%2F

We do not share any information relating to our members of both our Neurodiverse Museum Professionals Group or Disabled Museum Professional Group with any organisation or business without the express consent of the member.

If you wish to go to an event organised and/or co-hosted by DCN, we use online booking facilities such as Eventbrite to enable us to run our events and support us in our understanding of who and what organisations are attracted to our events. We do not share your information with any business or organisation without your consent.

You are entitled to view, amend or delete the personal information that we hold.  Please email your request to Becki Morris, Data Protection Lead
at info@musedcn.org.uk

This policy was published on 18 September 2018.  We will review this policy annually as from this date, or if we are aware of any changes in policy to EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Next Review: 18 September 2019.

Special Schools and Museums Toolkit: A Practical Guide to Accessible and Inclusive Museum Experiences

South East Museum Development Programme

This toolkit is developed by South East Museum Development Programme in support of Arts Council England.

It contains practical advice and case studies regarding Special Educational Needs and Disabled People, particularly in relation to Special Schools.

There are key tips for museums to adopt, as well as highlighting important facilities such as Changing Places toilets.
Information and resources to Changing Places toilets link is here: https://www.musedcn.org.uk/category/resources/equipment/changing-places-toilets/

The toolkit is via this link:  http://southeastmuseums.org/Training?item=3045#.W5uGkKZKjIU

Arts Council England


Is Your Organisation Disability Confident: Support materials

The Disability Co-operative Network held its first informal meet up on the topic of the Disability Confident scheme at the Natural History Museum on 6 September 2018.

The Disability Confident Scheme was launched in 2013 to replace the Two Ticks scheme for organisations to work towards inclusive practice to attract and retain talent for people with disabilities and chronic health conditions.

Recently the Westminster Achieveability Commission report identified as part of their recommendations, that the Disability Confident scheme lacked profile and marketing.  Therefore on 6 September 2018, DCN held an informal meet up at the Natural History Museum to discuss the Disability Confident scheme with DDCMS, Tate and Victoria and Albert Museums and fellow attendees.

This is the supportive material for people who could not attend the event and those who are interested in the Disability Confident Scheme and inclusive practice in the workforce.  We will have a transcription and recording of the event shortly.  Check twitter @museumDCN for further details.

This is an ongoing action which we welcome conversation, collaboration and action. Do get in touch with us via info@musedcn.org.uk or Direct Message @museumDCN

New Network launched at the first informal event

We have a new staff network for people who identify as disabled who work in the Heritage Sector.
This membership is free and open to emerging professionals, students, voluntary and paid staff.
If you are interested in joining the group, please contact Leigh or Becki via info@musedcn.org.uk

The aims of the group are:

  • Connecting people who identify as disabled and working (both paid and unpaid) in the museum/heritage sector.
  • The recognition of disabled talent within the heritage sector as a workforce.
  • Identification of key skills and training needed within the workforce to enable a diverse workforce such as flexible working, working within capacity and strategy.
  • Support employers and employees in creating safe spaces to talk.
  • Reduce risk of workplace bullying and illness due to poor working practice.
  • Working together for positive, practical change in the service delivery and workforce of the heritage sector.

Why Inclusive Practice matters?  This is a great film on how inclusion is all of us.

How can my organisation work towards Disability Confident?

The Disability Confident Scheme:

Current reports relating to the recruitment and retention of disabled and neurodivergent people in the workforce:

Westminster AchieveAbility Commission Report:
(Neurodiverse Voices: Opening the Doors to Employment): A collaborative report on the barriers facing neurodivergent talent in recruitment and retention in the workplace.


I Can Make It Project by Disability Rights UK
A great film featuring Carrie Boyce who works for the Royal Society of Chemistry (non-profit making organisation) and how she manages her chronic health condition as well as work.

The Importance of Neurodiversity in the Workplace (CIPD)

Museum Professionals Neurodiverse Network:

Access to Work:
Access to Work is a Central Government funded scheme to enable purchase of equipment and coaching for people with disabilities and neurodiversity in post.

Information on Access to Work here:  https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/access-work

The Department of Work and Pensions has a number of films regarding Personal Independent Payments and Access to Work which are available on Youtube.

Here is the film ‘What is Access to Work?’








Sensing Culture: Resources and Information supporting blind or partially sighted visitors


Sensing Culture has been a three-year multi-partner project with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) as the lead partner, and funded by £438,900 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) with one mission at its heart – to remove the barriers that prevent blind and partially sighted people (BPS) from accessing their heritage.

It was born from an identified need within access organisations’, as well as the heritage sector at large, that more could and should be done to facilitate good museum experiences for people who experience sight loss.

Link to information, case studies and films here: https://www.sensingculture.org.uk/

Creating Accessible Conferences and Presentations

Disability Co-operative Network

Accessible Conference Guidance
These guidelines and tips come from Government Digital Service:

Evacuation Plans
What evacuation plans do you have in place in getting people safely out of the building?
See: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/422202/9446_Means_of_Escape_v2_.pdf

Assistance Dogs Guidance:

For further information on captioning and BSL go to:
Stagetext:  http://www.stagetext.org/

Vocaleyes:  Making your presentations more accessible to blind and partially sighted people.

Ensure that handouts are available for neurodivergent people in advance.
Ensure that people are able to record the presentations to support their note taking.

Setting Up a Disability Advisory Group: Horniman Museum and Gardens

The external Access Advisory Group (AAG) at the Horniman Museum and Gardens has been running since 2007. In 2013 we re-recruited a Chair and twelve of the fourteen current members. The group name reflects access rather than disability as it aims to challenge barriers to access at the Horniman.

AAG benefits the Horniman significantly:  prompting us to solve access issues in areas from signage campaigns to public programming, helping us ensure access is embedded in capital projects, discussing our access questions and sharing best practice/ pitfalls from members’ experiences of physical and intellectual access in other organisations. Members have joined us on interview panels and celebrated our good practice via social media.

AAG also benefits its members. Tincture of Museum, a group member, says, “Being a member of the [AAG] has… given me a sense of involvement and empowerment in museum decisions and exhibitions…  [I]t has brought me into contact with other members of the panel and helped me appreciate… the range of barriers visitors can face. I really feel a part of the museum.”

The way you set up your group will be unique to your organisation but here are some points to consider:

  1. Ensure your organisation is ready to act on the group’s advice

Establish awareness and buy-in for the group across your organisation. Set up an internal structure to ensure the group’s advice is useful, timely and acted on. Our Director: Collections Management & Special Projects is our internal champion who works with Learning and Exhibitions teams to identify issues the AAG should be consulted on. Advice from AAG is followed up by project leads and monitored by our quarterly internal Equality Action Group.

  1. Ensure you have the resources to run the group long-term

Resources include: staff time to coordinate the group (AAG is administered by Community Learning and Exhibitions); expenses including payment for the Chair, lunch and refreshments, members’ travel, access support such as BSL interpreters; an accessible space for the group to meet; other benefits for members such as free access to paid exhibitions. We prioritise resources for AAG to meet 4 times per year.

  1. Appoint a group Chair

Museum sector research shows it is best practice to recruit an external, disabled Chair to ensure impartiality and to benefit from their expertise and contacts. This is not essential and some museums chair access groups internally. We sent out a role description and simple application form to some of our access heroes and recruited Barry Ginley, Disability and Access Officer at the V&A.

  1. Recruit members

We recruited local people with daily lived experience of disability who were interested in museums, world cultures and making museums more accessible physically and intellectually. Other museums focus on particular disabilities and you will have your own criteria. Your Chair can also help recruit members. We sent out simple application forms with the option to complete them over the phone or in person. We held the first meeting as an informal group interview for everyone to decide if it was for them.

  1. Schedule meetings

Think about the timing of meetings (this can be discussed and amended at the first meeting). We schedule meetings to avoid members having to travel in the dark or in rush hour. Schedule meetings at useful points in project timelines (when you are able to provide concrete information but before binding decisions have been made).

  1. Provide opportunities for all members to contribute fully

When recruiting members, find out their access requirements (including how they would like to receive information about the meeting and any extra support needed). This can be done by the Chair.  We circulate all paperwork two weeks before each meeting.  Keep your agenda to a maximum of four items and always include an AOB for members to share current projects, examples of best practice, etc. Use the first meeting or group interview to jointly create a short Group Agreement. This could include communication rules (we always raise our hand and say our name before speaking), and other rules to ensure everyone can contribute. Ask members if they are happy to be contacted individually or as a group for support between meetings and add their response to the Agreement.

  1. Invite staff and external contractors to meetings

It is much more effective if staff members, designers, architects hear advice from the group directly. Prepare staff in advance by sending them the Group Agreement, highlighting any communication strategies and chat to them about any concerns they have.

  1. Act on the group’s advice!

Act on advice or discuss why you haven’t. Tell the group when you have acted on their advice and its impact. This builds trust between the group and the museum which is vital to a productive relationship.

  1. Evaluate the group on an ongoing basis. We are working on ways to make more staff aware of AAG as a useful source of advice and support and are trying to find the best method for small group working within AAG.

Julia Cort is Community Learning Manager at Horniman Museum and Gardens and part of the working group for Disability Cooperative Network

Rachel Harrison is Community Engagement Officer at Horniman Museum and Gardens