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Archaeology Matters

Sensing the past: CBA delivers training to promote wider access to the historic environment

On Friday 19th September CBA coordinated two half-day events in collaboration with the Wilberforce Trust and hosted by the Treasurer's House, York. Focus was on widening access to the historic environment for individuals with visual impairment, in pursuance of the CBA's vision of 'archaeology for all'.

Sight-guiding at the Treasurer's House, York

The Wilberforce Trust leading a sight-guiding exercise through the gardens of the Treasurer's House, York, with the aid of simulation spectacles.

Skills development and capacity building:

Training was delivered over two half-day sessions and facilitated through partnership working. The Wilberforce Trust (a leading York-based charity) led on aspects of visual impairment with CBA and York Archaeological Trust providing hands-on opportunities to engage with artefacts and tactile installations. 

The sessions were well attended by a wide range of volunteers and professionals from across Yorkshire and further afield, including one delegate from Northern Ireland. All participants shared a keeness to promote wider access to the historic environment for individuals with visual impairment. 

The course sought to develop:

  • understanding of the difficulties and challenges faced by visually impaired people
  • skills and confidence in communicating effectively with visually impaired people
  • knowledge of how visual and audio aids can be used to immerse a person in an exhibition
  • understanding of how to effectively use tactile installations to enrich engagement
Facilitated by funding from English Heritage, the training is part of a programme designed to develop heritage skills and build capacity in the voluntary and community sector.

A 'tactile' map of medieval York

Opportunity was provided during the training to explore the use of handling collections and 'tactile' maps.

Peer-to-peer learning and future collaboration:

In addition to the training delivered, the event provided opportunity for attendees to share their interest in widening acess to the historic environment. Discussion was a key part of the training day and participants were encouraged to share experiences and observations of best practice, providing a peer-to-peer learning opportunity. It is anticipated that attendees have developed contacts for future collaboration. 


"Training excellently co-ordinated. Thank you!"

"I feel more confident now to encourage others."

"Fab day! Great ideas! I shall be implementing the simulating specs too! Very USEFUL!"

"Very useful to have the persepctive of a VI [visually impaired] person."

"... can use this in our own training to pass on to others."

"Extremely useful and will help with staff awareness, improve our sensory tours and offer to partially sighted visitors."

"This was fantastic!! ... I now feel more confident & better equipped to enable those with visual impairments to get the most out of their experience & be fully included with archaeology & heritage."

"Brilliant session + very impressed York is so forward thinking!"

For queries concerning the CBA's training programme please contact:

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