A visitor holds an object at an exhibition while blindfolded

National Paralympic Heritage Trust to develop and share expertise of disability access

Following an Arts Council England grant, the NPHT will work with organisations on a digital toolkit and virtual exhibitions.

The National Paralympic Heritage Trust (NPHT) is to continue to develop and share its expertise of disability access in heritage after receiving Arts Council England (ACE) funding.

Over the next three years, NPHT will work with and support museums, venues and event organisers in Buckinghamshire, the birthplace of the Paralympics, East London, linking to Paris Paralympics 2023 and Hampshire, the birthplace of the Winter Paralympics.

The NPHT will work with organisations across the three regions to develop digital toolkits which are designed to dispel myths about neurodivergence.

It is hoped that the toolkits will support the integration and inclusion of more children and young people with sensory needs into heritage organisations. Guidance will also be provided for the recruitment of neurodivergent staff, opening up specific skills in curation and exhibition management.

The funding will also be used to further develop NPHT’s digital resources, including the creation of 3D, virtual exhibition walkthroughs.

Virtual walkthroughs are already offered at the National Paralympic Heritage Centre, National Spinal Injuries Centre, Cartwright Hall Art Gallery & Museum and Cliffe Castle Museum.

Accessed via a browser, the walkthroughs are designed to allow more access for those unable to attend exhibitions in person, and provide preparation for visitors with sensory needs prior to a visit.

NPHT said it hopes the outcome of the work will create models of best practice which are shared across the heritage sector and develop networks with these organisations.

Set up in 2015 to protect and share British Paralympic heritage, NPHT has since developed an accessible accredited museum at Stoke Mandeville Stadium in Buckinghamshire, which celebrates Paralympic history, with a specific focus on visitors with severe sensory needs.

National Paralympic Heritage Trust Chair, Nigel Purse, said the funding will be used “in a way that invests for the future and builds greater diversity within the heritage sector as well as our own organisation.

“This work will boost spending in heritage in many areas where investment is currently low and enable quality cultural work that has a real social impact.”

CEO of the National Paralympic Heritage Trust, Victoria Hope-Walker added: “We will now work to dig deeper, experiment further and push the boundaries of inclusivity across the heritage sector, supporting other small-scale organisations who may lack space, time and funding, and in doing so we shall uncover more Paralympic sporting histories and build audiences.”