We believe that blind and visually impaired people should have the best possible opportunities to experience and enjoy art and heritage.
Our mission is to increase those opportunities, make them as good as possible, and ensure that as many blind and visually impaired people as possible are aware of them, and that the arts and heritage sector know how to create them, and welcome blind and visually impaired people as a core audience.
There are almost two million people in the UK living with sight impairment, including around 360,000 people registered as blind or partially sighted. Visual impairment affects people of all ages but especially older people: 1 in 5 people aged 75 and 1 in 2 aged 90 and over have some form of visual impairment. According to the RNIB, this number is set to increase in line with population ageing: by 2050 the number of people with a visual impairment in the UK could be nearly four million.
What motivates us is equality. Blind and visually impaired people have an equal right to experience the amazing range of UK’s artistic and cultural offer, but while around 60% of theatres and 70% of museums in the UK provide no access to their productions, galleries or special exhibitions for blind and partially sighted people; we have a long way to go before our work is done.
We share many values with the cultural organisations we work with; of the value of art and cultural heritage: and particularly the belief that cultural participation enriches lives and brings a range of positive outcomes: improved individual health and wellbeing; increased social interaction, self-esteem, self-efficacy and confidence; enhanced social networks. Blind and visually impaired people have just as much a right to these as any UK citizen or visitor.
How will we know when our mission has been achieved?
Blind and visually impaired people will:
- be aware of and can easily discover the range of art and heritage experiences available across the UK.
- have equal opportunity to experience art and heritage – visual impairments are not themselves a barrier to people being part of the audience.
- have equality of choice with regard to access programmes and resources – e.g. a choice of recorded audio-descriptive guide, or descriptive tour.
Theatres, museums, galleries and heritage sites will:
- value blind and visually impaired people as visitors, audience, members, staff and leaders.
- provide welcoming and useful information for blind and visually impaired people on their websites and marketing.
- have public-facing staff that are knowledgeable about barriers to access, the venue’s access provision and resources and are confident in communicating with and guiding blind visitors.
- offer audio description and other access resources for their venue, productions, permanent displays and exhibitions.