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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.

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Update: Nothing About Us Without Us Exhibition

Peoples History Museum Manchester

Manchester People’s History Museum

Fri 5 April – Sun 5 May, 10.00am – 5.00pm

Nothing About Us Without Us

Join us for the second stage of this co-produced exhibition which looks at the past, present and future of disabled people’s activism.  PHM is working with groups, campaigners and individuals to capture their stories and re-examine how the museum presents the history of disabled people’s activism. A large print guide and Braille transcription will be available. Films are subtitled.

Suitable for all ages

Sat 27 April, 2.00pm – 4.00pm

Have Your Say

Visit the museum’s co-produced exhibition Nothing About Us Without Us, which explores the history of disabled people’s activism, and join current campaigners discussing disabled people and activism, and lessons from the past and looking forward to the future. Listen, watch or get involved in the conversation. This event will be BSL interpreted.

Free event. No booking required.
Suitable for 11 years+

There are recorded interviews with disability campaigners via the PHM
YouTube channel. Films are subtitled and via this link:

Part of PHM’s year long programme exploring the past, present and future of protest, marking 200 years since the Peterloo Massacre; a major event in Manchester’s history, and a defining moment for Britain’s democracy.

If you require further assistance to support your visit to the exhibition or the event please contact the museum by emailing phoning 0161 838 9190. Access information about the museum is available on the museum website:

People’s History Museum, Left Bank, Spinningfields, Manchester M3 3ER. The museum is open every day 10.00am – 5.00pm. Free entry.

Rethinking Disability Symposium

Harriet Dunn

I had the great privilege of attending the Rethinking Disability Symposium at the Museum of Liverpool on 9th March 2018. This was organised by History of Place, an organisation that has engaged in research into “the histories of eight locations associated with D/deaf and disabled people” (HOP, 2018) in collaboration with Accentuate, an arts-based organisation which claims that it “creates ground-breaking opportunities for deaf and disabled people to participate and lead in the cultural sector” (Accentuate, 2018). The purpose of the symposium was to enable participants, all of whom were either working in arts organisations, or had an interest in the arts and disability to learn more about the aspects that require change in museums and galleries to ensure access and engagement for individuals who identify as D/deaf or disabled.

It is often the case that the representations of disability in the museum/gallery are not thought about by those who are non-disabled. However, for me, as an individual who is registered blind, along with studying for a PhD in art education and Visual Impairment (VI henceforth), access to the museum/gallery space is hugely important. Unfortunately, I often find myself lowering my own expectations of the provision available to visitors with VI, since disability is not always seen as an integral part of the museum/gallery. Instead, individuals with disabilities, in this situation, are frequently relegated to the margins and are regarded as an afterthought. In essence, this exclusion of individuals with disabilities from accessing the museum/gallery can be aligned with the social model of disability. Bolt (2005, p.539) succinctly explains that, “the Social Model of Disability holds that persons are impaired for a number of reasons, but that it is only by society that they are disabled”. Therefore, a lack of training and awareness of the needs of those with disabilities, for the museum/gallery staff, may be a contributory factor to visitors’ exclusion.

The afternoon began with an introduction from Esther Fox, Director of Accentuate, who indicated that while changes have taken place within the arts to include those who identify as having a disability, there is still a long way to go until we truly gain inclusive practice. Based upon statistical data, disabled people are most represented in dance, but are least represented in music. This variation surprised me, as I had previously considered the creative aspects of performance related arts to be more liberal and open to a wide range of individuals’ needs. Fox (2018) suggested that:

In order to bring about change we have to believe that change can happen. We are in an ambitious moment when we can bring about change in our cultural organisations.

However, it can often be difficult to bring about change when the attitudes of the public remain rigid towards the acceptance of those with any form of disability. This is based upon the notion that the public often hold stereotypical views such as pity, fear or shock. It is important that we begin to embrace all people to ensure a wider reflection of people’s reality.

Jocelyn Dodd, the Director at the Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG) at the University of Leicester, gave the first talk – “Rethinking Disability”. This was based upon her two-year action research project conducted ten years ago in 2008 with Richard Sandell. The talk began by discussing the notion that disability hate crime is on the increase – examples were provided from the media. As a result, barriers to access and participation in society continue to exist. Therefore, now more than ever, we need work such as this to take place around disability and access. Dodd (2018) explained that there is:

A scarcity of disability related narratives and representations in UK museums and galleries. While there is a wealth of material displayed in museums and galleries of/about disability, such individuals are often negatively portrayed and as a result, disabled people are often seen as ‘freaks’.

This perspective needs to be challenged so that individuals with disabilities can have access on a level playing field to their non-disabled peers. The purpose of Dodd and Sandell, et al’s (2008) research was to “challenge the ways in which museums/galleries think about disability”. This research recognises legal frameworks, specifically the Disability Discrimination Act (1995) and the Disability Equality Duty (2006) where there is a legal imperative to include people with disabilities in the museum/gallery. It was evident throughout this session that the legacy of this has made those working within museums/galleries bolder, confident and more experimental about ensuring those with disabilities are able to access such environments. However, while there continues to exist a medicalised view of how society portrays those with disabilities, change can never truly be implemented. It is now vital that museums/galleries tell the stories of disability that capture the interests of the public whilst also challenging debate around the implications of a society that values some lives more than others. This is so important if we are going to bring about change. To conclude her talk, Dodd asserted that we need to be more courageous and political in the way we think about disability in the museum and gallery. This must begin with disabled people challenging the medicalised ideas around their portrayal and demonstrating the ways in which they can be seen in a positive light.

Sharon Heal, Director of the Museums Association (MA), gave the next presentation – ‘Museums in an Age of Activism: Transformers – Creating a Legacy of Change’. Statistical information was provided on the demographics of the Museums Association with regards to its members. I found it unsurprising that the data revealed that by-and-large,the general population of members were females at the mid-stage of their career, without a declared disability and well-educated. Meanwhile, those that ascribe to a minority group, such as individuals with a disability, were well under-represented within the Museums Association. From a personal perspective, I feel that in order for positive change and representation to be brought about within the arts, individuals with disabilities require a greater representation within the Museums Association. This will give them a reliable platform in which to have their voices heard. Heal (2018) suggested that, “we need to understand the problem before we attempt to tackle it”. This centres around the representation and inclusion of those with disabilities in the museum/gallery setting. It is possible to use museum/gallery spaces to challenge ideas and think about what we can do differently. While museums are now becoming campaigners for change, it is necessary that:

If we need to make change, we need to be changing the governance of organisations – this can mean joining a board of a cultural organisation and becoming a trustee.

This can create a powerful constituency and movement for change, since the positive representation of individuals with disabilities within such settings can change lives. Heal (2018) then asserted that:

Society needs to rethink its siloed version of disability – it is integral to life. Museums too should not see disability as a separate strand.

Therefore, running parallel to society’s shift in attitudes towards disability is the notion that museums/galleries must also change the ways that they think about visitors with disabilities. Finally, delegates were left to think about the following perspective – creating inclusive museum experiences is not just about access: once I have access, what am I going to see? Where’s my history? Where’s my story? It is all well and good to provide access to museums/galleries for individuals with disabilities, but if there remains little or no exhibitions surrounding their lived experiences, this group of people still remains marginalised. It is now time to make the invisible visible through positive access, representation and appreciation.

Turning now to the final presentation of the afternoon, Anna Fineman, the Museums, Galleries and Heritage Programme Manager from VocalEyes gave a talk entitled, ‘Welcoming Websites? Museum Access Begins Online’. VocalEyes exists as a charity which works with museums/galleries across the UK to enable access for blind/VI visitors. They provide training, advice, support and consultancy to museums/galleries wishing to develop their access provision, as well as individuals with VI, enabling them to access such provision. VocalEyes (2018) believes that:

Blind and partially sighted people should have equality of opportunity to experience and enjoy museums, galleries and heritage sites.

To this end, they indicate that the visitors’ journey begins online through the process of advance planning, which is essential to visitors who identify as having a disability. According to Euan’s Guide Access Survey (2016, np) “93% of disabled people seek information prior to visiting a venue”. There is a whole array of questions a visitor with a disability may have when planning their visit, such as: how to get there, whether they will be able to navigate the space by themselves, whether the staff have any disability awareness and if information is available in alternative formats. According to Fineman (2018) “the museum website is the initial barrier or gateway to access”. If these queries are unable to be answered using the museum/gallery’s website, it is often the case that people with disabilities will not visit. Fineman then went on to discuss the State of Museum Access Report (SOMA henceforth) (2016). This gave an overview of the ways in which UK museums are approaching online access information. While positive steps are being taken to ensure that there is an access section available on museum/gallery websites, along with navigation information and contact details of the member of staff assigned to supporting those with disabilities, it was clear from the data provided that there is still a long way to go until access provision is properly organised. According to SOMA’s (2016) findings:

27% of UK museums provided no online access information, 43% had no online access information for blind and partially sighted people and only 30% of UK museums provided any access for blind and partially sighted visitors. (SOMA)

It shocked me that in this day and age, there continues to exist a lack of access and information within cultural organisations to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities. While individuals may lack sight, this does not mean that they cannot experience and enjoy the museum/gallery via other means, such as AD tours and Braille/large print access guides. Fineman (2018) posed the question to museum/gallery visitors: “what does accessible mean to you?” The following response succinctly sums this up: not just everyone can use/access something, but that everyone feels welcome and comfortable accessing/using something. If visitors receive a friendly and warm welcome either online, or in person, when attempting to access the museum/gallery this can go a long way in ensuring that they have a positive and rewarding experience. Although access and inclusion in museums/galleries is improving for those who identify as having disabilities, there still remains issues surrounding the necessary funding to enable participation. However, it would appear that when access arrangements are available, they are welcomed by visitors. It is now vitally important that those working in the arts need to continually rethink by using opportunities such as the symposium to discuss, challenge and learn how to do things better.


Accentuate (2018) About us.

[Accessed: 18th May 2018]

Bolt, David. “From Blindness to Visual Impairment: Terminological Typology and the Social Model of Disability”. Disability & Society. vol.20, no.5, 2005, pp.539-552.

Dodd, Jocelyn. “Rethinking Disability”. Rethinking Disability Symposium, 9th March 2018, Museum of Liverpool, Liverpool. Symposium Presentation.

Dodd, Jocelyn., Richard Sandell., Debbie Jolley and Ceri Jones. Rethinking Disability Representation in Museums and Galleries. RCMG: Leicester. 2008. Print.

Euan’s Guide. “The Access Survey 2016”

[Accessed: 22nd September 2018]

Fineman, Anna. “Welcoming Websites? Museum Access Begins Online”. Rethinking Disability Symposium, 9th March 2018, Museum of Liverpool, Liverpool. Symposium Presentation.

Fox, Esther. “Opening Remarks and Framing the Afternoon”. Rethinking Disability Symposium, 9th March 2018, Museum of Liverpool, Liverpool. Keynote Speech.

Heal, Sharon. “Museums in an Age of Activism: transformers – Creating a Legacy of Change”. Rethinking Disability Symposium, 9th March 2018, Museum of Liverpool, Liverpool. Symposium Presentation.

History of Place – Home (2018).

[Accessed: 18th May 2018]

VocalEyes. “State of Museum Access 2016: A Survey of UK Museum Website Access Information for Blind and Partially Sighted Visitors”.

[Accessed: 11th March 2018]


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 


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:  Mob:  07455 896213   


For further information regarding ClearTalents go to

Contact Claire Jones 07825 166 136

Singing the praises of ENO’s warm welcome

Holly Bee, Education and Communications Manager, GEM

What do you imagine when someone says “a night at the opera”? Aside from the Queen album, that is. Suits? Champagne? Steampunk binoculars perched on upturned noses? Of all the different aspects of arts, heritage and culture, opera is perhaps the one with the most perceived barriers to entry. Foreign languages, complicated compositions, expensive tickets, and a long history of very particular pop culture portrayals. These stereotypes certainly put me off, and I didn’t seek out opera when I moved near London and started searching theatre deals. But then English National Opera (ENO) announced some cheap tickets for their production of La Bohème and so I thought it was time to give it a shot. I’d like to share the experience of the evening and its string of pleasant surprises: the things ENO did to actively craft a warm welcome, all of them dead simple and easy to replicate.

Before arrival

First of all, being able to book a ticket for £12 was a huge draw. I had recently thought about seeing a different London-based opera and when the only tickets I could find started at over £100 it had immediately confirmed that the artform was out of my price range. The cheap ticket not only made it practically possible for me to go, but it made the whole experience stop feeling intimidating: how fancy could they expect me to be if that’s all they wanted for a ticket?

Furthermore, ENO has a brilliant website that puts welcome and access at the front. The prominent “Your Visit” page offers clearly marked information to make booking and visiting as easy as possible, in particular:

  • The first thing they signpost is “Ways to save”, rather than sneaking cheap tickets into the individually-labelled seats in the booking process.
  • “On the day – it’s showtime” gives you all the information about arrival times, how to collect tickets, store bags, eat, etc., in a friendly and easy-going way. For example, the lovely phrase “It’s really important to us that people with dietary, medical or access requirements can relax and have a wonderful night”, a sentiment that is repeated throughout the website.
  • “Attending opera for the first time?” is a wonderful little myth-busting page, reassuring you that you don’t need a dress code and giving you an idea of what to expect from opera and ENO in general, it promises that around a third of the audience tends to be a first-time visitor (a sure sign that they’re doing good access work!), and that seasoned visitors are friendly and happy to share. I’ve never seen something like this on an arts and heritage website (not to say that no one else has done it) and the fact that “Your first opera” is also a link on the homepage tells me that making you comfortable is ENO’s top priority.
  • “Disabled access” is another very prominent and clear page, expressed in a friendly tone that encourages trust in the organisation. Not only is access information provided, but ENO has an access scheme to offer priority booking, discounts and on-the-night support, as well as specialised performances and materials.

The ENO website is one of the absolute best examples I’ve seen of pre-visit practice and if you take nothing else from this article, I would really recommend checking out:

Curtain up

On entering the London Coliseum, I felt instantly welcomed. Staff were everywhere in smart-casual uniforms with big smiles on their faces. It felt so easy to ask questions and never like I was expected to know some secret code for opera-lovers. The finishing and interval times of the performance were clearly labelled, as were toilets, bars and programmes. This meant I didn’t have to deal with any anxiety around feeling trapped in a seat, unsure of being able to break or get home (as a former IBS-sufferer, this is a big deal for me, lack of information in theatres used to send me into a real panic). 

Signs also encouraged us to photograph the theatre, which I’ve never been allowed to do before. I snapped away and this really made me engage with the stunning architecture of the space, pointing out details to others and sharing them on social media. The simple permission to take and share pictures turned the theatre from someone else’s house to a public space that I had some reign over.

The programme explained the plot of each act clearly. This is pretty common practice in opera and ballet, to my knowledge, but it got me thinking about how we could apply the practice in museums. Giving short summaries of the contents of galleries could help visitors navigate, especially if there is content they wish to avoid.


On the theme of disability access specifically, the entire show was subtitled (or “surtitled”, as they call it). A scrolling screen was suspended above the stage subtitling the libretto (sung script), including colour changes for different singers. I honestly couldn’t say whether this was a specific access measure or if it is standard opera practice, but either way the presence of subtitles was a masterstroke for engagement. ENO already translates all its productions into English, making them instantly easier to follow for those of us new on the scene, but obviously operatic singing isn’t how we’re used to hearing our language spoken and the words could easily be obscured. Having the subtitles made it easy for me to follow the interactions and narrative. In smoothing that path, ENO opened a whole new level of appreciation for me.

La Bohème is not an opera with a lot of long solo pieces, it relies on the quick conversation of a few close characters and the easy-to-follow text let me fully understand and form a relationship with those characters. The story opens with the hero, Rodolfo, burning his play manuscript to keep himself and his friends warm in their stark flat. This is a brilliantly witty scene in which they describe the flares of drama and the dying of the audience’s enthusiasm as each page burns and smoulders. The dialogue ricochets between the two men on stage and steps up again as two more enter. This is a piece of writing that I’m sure will keep me warm next time my heating goes off. I’m so glad I could catch every quip. The characters in La Bohème are young, hot-blooded, impulsive, loyal, creative, exciting, and extremely likeable. Subtitling was the key that unlocked the heart of the production. All the love and work that had been poured into this opera became visible to the audience in a way it rarely is, because we could really digest the characters and the story. How different the experience was when that bit of extra ease was included (mostly in making me realise how much I need a Team Marcello t-shirt. Actually, I need a Team Marcello pink beret – trust me, it’s on brand).

ENO also used the subtitling technology inventively to add to the atmosphere. Throughout the lead up to the start and the interval, messages sent in by audience members scrolled across the screen, wishing happy birthday, congratulations and love. ENO’s own messages of greeting were included, encouraging tweeting and wishing us all a good evening. Small details that make a space more friendly are one of my favourite things to shout about in arts and heritage. Having the company saying hello and goodnight was genuinely heart-warming and really contributed to a feeling of welcome. The weight of history behind the production and the theatre wasn’t diminished, but it was made to feel like an old friend, rather than a revered hierarch.

From audience to community

Before the production began, the Music Director of ENO, Martyn Brabbins, came onto the stage and made a few announcements. He told us that making their ENO debuts in this production were singers Natalya Romaniw, Jonathon Tetelman and Nicholas Lester, and conductor Valentina Peleggi. He encouraged us all to give them extra support and this was met with enthusiastic applause. I really loved this moment in which the audience were brought into a familial bond with the company. Rather than having them appear as stiff professionals, they happily admitted to being new and being nervous and asked us to show them some love as they would us through their performance. It made me feel instantly affectionate towards the company and eager to see them do the amazing job they of course went on to do. It was another small detail, like the subtitle messages, jeans-wearers, signage and photographs, that made the whole environment one of ease and care.

Brabbins also told us about ENO’s Access All Arias programme, in which opera attendance is made affordable and accessible for 16-29-year-olds. He celebrated the influx of new audiences, seeming genuinely excited to see young faces in the crowd, and spoke with real joy about the work ENO is doing to diversify who comes to opera, as well who pursues careers in it. I was so happy to see a director making himself visible to the audience (rather than relying on an access-specialist spokesperson) and being excited to see new people (rather than assuming everyone felt lucky to be there). Also, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve known about something really cool that a heritage site is doing for community participation or access, then when I’ve tried to spread the word I’ve not been able to find a scrap of evidence for it because we are chronically awful at shouting about this. Having Access All Arias visible on the website, up on posters in the box office, and specially announced by the Music Director as part of the evening’s experience was so refreshing. The huge cheer it solicited shows that the ENO audience is keen to be as welcoming as the team.  We should absolutely be as loud as possible about anything we do to tackle barriers to access. It was so heart-warming and motivating to have the most senior members of ENO and the most prominent comms loudly saying “we want you here”. 

Curtain call

I left ENO’s La Bohème feeling warm, cheerful, like I’d just made a new friend. When asked how my evening was, I, for the first time ever in an arts experience, honestly responded with “cosy”. The small steps taken at every stage of my visit to say “we’re so glad to see you” built an experience for me that went way beyond enjoying a piece of art, (though that piece of art was fantastic).

I will now add a big caveat and say that I am a pretty easy person to engage. Culture has never been hard to reach for me and so I can’t speak for others in different circumstances about how successful ENO’s efforts would be for them. But on that note, the evening did something really important for me in that brought it home better than anything has before that we all need access. Having a strong and embedded message of welcome and stress-reduction meant that the evening wasn’t just one of entertainment, it was a moment of meeting. I have now signed up to the Access All Arias scheme and will be making a point of learning more about the company and the artform. A whole new arena of experience has been opened to me and all it took was a scrolling screen, some decent signage and a friendly face.

Too often the access conversation, particularly disability access, is framed as “helping a minority”. This raises all sorts of questions over whether we really need to bother, how much difference does it really make if we have the majority already? But here’s the question, do we have the majority? Really? Why do we assume that just because someone isn’t meeting a specific access barrier that a space must be inviting to them? Society doesn’t throw a whole lot in my way and I was still very unsure of whether I would really belong at the opera. It took so little to prove me wrong and make me want to go back again and again. Access All Arias and other such measures aren’t necessarily aimed at me, but that didn’t stop them making a massive difference to me as a member of an audience, and, I now believe, as a member of a community. It’s so important that professionals in the sector check our privilege, but we should also check our barriers and think about how a warm welcome affects “us” as well as “them”. Do that, and we remember that the line between “us” and “them” was pretty nonsensical all along.

I’d like to close by saying a sincere thank you to everyone at ENO, from management to cast to creative team to front of house, for a truly special experience, for being a friend, and for bringing me into a community. I would encourage all of you to check out their programme this year; take a look at the work they’re doing to make opera accessible for all, and make access holistically meaningful.

Training Provision survey for museums and Heritage organisations

Disability Collaborative Network

DCN are interested to know what training provision you currently have, interested in and what barriers you may be experiencing. With the reduction of budgets and costs of attending and travel, are these factors shaping how you provide or experiencing training.

Do you have barriers which inform what you can attend and how you participate?

All answers are anonymous.

The link is here:

If you would like a word document version or book time to go through the questionnaire, please email Becki Morris via

Deadline is 27th March 2019

Surveys relating to the workforce and organisational practice

History of Place, Screen South, XD4D,AHRC, Heritage Lottery Fund

Accentuate UK, which has run a number of projects in the cultural sector to tell the stories of deaf and disabled people’s heritage is planning a work placement programme for deaf and disabled people in the museum sector. The most recent ACE diversity figures show that only 4% of museum staff are disabled, against a background figure of 20% in the wider workforce. Accentuate has created two five-minute surveys:

·      A survey for all museums and heritage sites – asking if and how your institution is approaching this issue (and what would help if not). (Link to survey)

·      A survey for deaf and disabled people working in the museum and heritage sectors, whether as staff or freelancers. (Link to survey)

Responses are anonymous and the deadline for both survey is 15th March.

If you need the survey as a word document, please email

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  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

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:

We have also been part of talks in relation to the Government Digital Service on website accessibility link for resources and tools here 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:

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 and keep regularly updated by following @museumDCN


Sunday 5 January 2019: Nothing About Us Without Us Activity Day (Manchester People’s History Museum)

Peoples History Museum Manchester

Nothing About Us Without Us activity day

 Saturday 5 January 2019, 1.00pm – 5.00pm

Nothing About Us Without Us is a co-produced exhibition created with disability groups, campaigners and individuals to capture their stories and re-examine how the history of disabled people’s activism is presented.

Drop in, explore the exhibition and meet some of the activists and campaigners that helped to put it together.

There is also a chance to make your own protest badge or placard and add to a collaborative banner in a printing workshop with Venture Arts.

Activities suitable for age 5+ but all ages welcome.

No booking required, drop in activity

People’s History Museum,
Left  Bank, Spinningfields, Manchester, M3 3ER

Telephone: 0161 8389190

Nothing About Us Without Us exhibition and collecting stories at Manchester People’s History Museum

Peoples History Museum Manchester

Manchester Peoples History Museum have worked with disability groups, campaigners and individuals to capture their stories and re-examine how the history of disabled people’s activism is presented.

This exhibition which is open now to Sunday 6 January is the first stage of a long-term project which looks at the representation of disabled people.

Staff at the Manchester Peoples History Museum are encouraging visitors, groups and campaigners to let them know if they have any comments, objects or stories you would like to share to help tell this story.

The second stage of the exhibition will take place at the People’s History Museum between 5 April 2019 – 5 May 2019.

There will be a Nothing About Us Without Us activity day on Saturday 5 January 2019.
Information on this activity day is here:

If anyone is interested in being involved please get in contact with our Exhibitions Officer by email  or phone 0161 8389190.

For further information a link to the Nothing About Us Without Us webpage is here:

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: 

News:  Do you have or are you planning a digital project in the next 12 months? New Law on Website Accessibility

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:

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


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 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 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:

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: and using captions on Youtube

Organisations using tweetdeck:

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


Press Release:  #PurpleLightUp for International Day of Persons with Disabilities 3rd December 2018

Purple Light Up

Museums and Heritage Organisations, have you, or are you, developing inclusive practice in your museum, art gallery or heritage organisation in 2018? Have you increased access or inclusive practice in your organisation in 2018?  Tell us about it on 3rd December 2018.

Join us and colleagues across the world to mark the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3rd December 2018.  It’s now a globally recognised date to celebrate and empower disabled people.  It’s time to be part of the #PurpleLightUp powered by our colleagues at PurpleSpace, to raise and rally awareness for a global call to action.

Why does this matter?

Over 1 billion people in the world have some form of disability, that’s 1 in 7. It can affect any of us at any time in our lives. In a growing global movement, over 160 countries have signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. But there’s still more to be done. True inclusion comes from a world that accepts all human difference, where people demand their voices to be heard.

What can you do?

Tell us at the Disability Co-operative Network (@museumDCN) what you have done in recognition of the importance of inclusive practice in Heritage by heading over to the #PurpleLightUp pledge page and let us (via and PurpleSpace know you are taking part on 3rd December and allows us to give you a roll call shout out on the website.

Mark this event by:

  • Wearing purple in your organisation.
  • Join our friends by lighting your building purple.
  • Display purple bunting in your museum café or shop.
  • If you are serving cakes or food – go purple with icing.
  • Use the hashtag #PurpleLightUp on social media on 3rd December to tell us at @museumDCN about what you organisation is doing and what you are doing as an organisation to be more inclusive.

Email us what you are doing via for the day.

What happened in 2017?

In 2017, our colleagues at PurpleSpace reported that:

  • 56 organisations across 66 countries recognised #PurpleLightUp and used the colour purple to build community around #IDPD
  • This celebration and social media support spanned individuals and organisations in countries such as Peru, Singapore, UK, US and beyond
  • 355,275 people were reached through Thunderclap
  • #PurpleLightUp trended on Twitter with in excess of 133,000 impressions

What people did:

  • Buildings were illuminated
  • Flags were flown
  • Websites were branded
  • Lapel pins and lanyards were introduced
  • Blogs and Vlogs where shared
  • Employees resource guides for allies and senior champions
  • where launched
  • Our personal stories elevated a positive narrative
  • Shoes, ties and socks went purple… and dogs wore bows!

For Further Information:

For any further information, contact Becki Morris via




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

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 Co-operative Network

The Disability Co-operative Network (known as DCN) is committed to maintaining the trust and confidence of our users to our website, networks and mailing lists. We want 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, 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:

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

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:

The toolkit is via this link:

Arts Council England