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Inspired by Eureka!, the national children’s museum, the University’s Victoria Gallery and Museum is proud to be the first museum in the North West to join the Sunflower Lanyard Scheme. This national scheme recognises that not all disabilities are visible and offers people with hidden disabilities a way to be discreetly identifiable by wearing a lanyard, badge or wristband.
The scheme has been adopted by the Victoria Gallery and Museum in order to ensure that it is as inclusive and welcoming as possible for all. It enables staff at the gallery to identify people with hidden disabilities more easily and offer the help that may be needed to ensure that visitors have an enjoyable and relaxed visit.
Some of the ways in which staff will be able to help include:
The Victoria Gallery and Museum took part in Museum Development North West’s Age Friendly Accessibility Programme in 2018 and, as a result, has implemented a number of changes to benefit visitors. The main actions taken include the creation of an accessibility project group to review accessibility using Museum Development North West’s audit tool and the set-up of an accessibility focus group of volunteers to gather feedback and suggestions for improvement.
The team is continually working towards improving visitors’ experiences and have also recently implemented a number of other changes including practical building improvements and staff training.
A floor plan has been added to the entrance area of the building to assist way finding and new and improved signage has been developed for the exterior of the building. A new quiet area has also been created for anyone who needs to take some time away from noise in the galleries or museum.
All VG&M staff are also now trained Dementia Friends and the gallery’s Curator for Lifelong Learning is a Dementia Champion.
Nicola Euston, Head of Museums and Galleries, said: “We are delighted that Kirsty is a Dementia Champion and is able to train other staff to ensure that we can continue to support visitors with dementia.”
This training influenced the decision to launch the new Relaxed Concert series, in collaboration with the Music Department, which provides musical performances by University of Liverpool students in the beautiful and relaxed Waterhouse Café. The choice of location and set-up of the event offers an accessible experience for all and ensures that attendees can walk about freely during the performances without the fear of disrupting the concert.
Looking ahead, the team plan to continue to excel in offering a welcoming and accessible venue for visitors. In addition to the new floor plan, improvements are currently being made to the way finder signage in the building to make it easier for visitors to find their way around. There are also plans to create 360° online videos of gallery and museum exhibitions to ensure that they are accessible for all, whether people can visit the building or not.
Joining the Sunflower Lanyard Scheme is an extremely positive step towards achieving the team’s aim of Autism Friendly status and continuing to improve the experience of visitors with autism.
Further information about accessibility when visiting the Victoria Gallery and Museum can be found at: http://vgm.liverpool.ac.uk/your-visit/accessibility/
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