Cultural Heritage: Disability

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 31st October 2019.

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Photo of Jim Cunningham Jim Cunningham Labour, Coventry South

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps she is taking to increase awareness among staff at heritage sites of invisible disabilities such as autism.

Photo of Helen Whately Helen Whately The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

The heritage sector is working to increase awareness among staff at heritage sites of invisible disabilities such as autism. English Heritage is committed to enabling everyone to experience the historic places in its care. Their ‘welcome all’ approach highlights to staff and volunteers that disability is not always obvious and that a best practice approach to access must look at a wide range of special needs. For example, English Heritage is part of the dementia-friendly heritage network, has held touch-tours for partially sighted visitors, and is currently considering ways to introduce quiet times and spaces at some of its properties.

In the museums part of the heritage sector, there is increasing activity supporting children and adults with autism to access culture. A number of DCMS-sponsored museums run ‘quiet openings’ where families with children with autism can explore the museum in a relaxed and quiet environment. Kids in Museums, an Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation, has partnered with Autism in Museums to deliver training days for museums around the country.

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