VocalEyes to launch second access survey

Rob Picheta, 10.01.2018
Audit will review information on all Accredited museum websites
Museums have been called on to improve their online accessibility information by VocalEyes, a charity which promotes access to the arts for blind, partially-sighted and disabled people, ahead of its second State of Museum Access survey.

VocalEyes said that museums without adequate information online were excluding potential visitors and failing in their duty under the Equality Act.

The survey will be carried out by volunteers, who will assess the websites of all Accredited museums in the UK and report on the existence and extent of access information.

The charity's previous survey in 2016 found that 27% of the UK's Accredited museums had no access information on their website, while seven in 10 lacked information suitable for blind or partially sighted people.

VocalEyes will widen the scope of the audit this year to review online information relevant to a wider range of audiences such as visitors with autism or who are deaf, partnering with organisations such as the charity Stagetext. Volunteers will begin collecting information in March.

Matthew Cock, the chief executive of VocalEyes, said: “The website is a vital gateway to the museum. Pre-planning is very important for a disabled person’s visit, and the web is an obvious place to prepare.”

“Museums are failing these people, and failing in their duty under the Equality Act 2010.”

He added: “We’re hoping to see growth in the number of museums who recognise that disability is about more than wheelchair and physical access: and extends into providing resources to enable access to the collection.”

A 2015 survey by the online accessibility review site Euan’s Guide found that 95% of visitors with special requirements look for a venue’s access information before deciding whether to visit.

Scotland was the worst-performing region in the previous VocalEyes audit, with 39% of its museums lacking any online access information, while military museums were the worst-performing category. The report also found that only 5% of British museums take advantage of websites offering access audits.

VisitEngland and VisitScotland launched a website to help tourist venues create  accessibility guides in October 2017, noting that £12 billion was spent on trips where a member of the party had an impairment in 2015.

VocalEyes is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation, and will receive a 27% boost in funding to £224,000 for the period 2018-2022.