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Museum and charity ensure warm welcome for visitors with hearing loss

Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery and local charity, Signal, are celebrating the UK’s Deaf Awareness Week in May to ensure a warm welcome for visitors with hearing loss.

During the week, which runs from Monday 15 May– Sunday 21 May 2017, the museum’s public-facing staff and volunteers will participate in Signal’s training to build their skills in inclusive communication and lead the way in providing a rich experience for visitors with hearing loss, adding to the measures already taken to make the museum accessible to all.

The museum’s collections and special exhibitions and events appeal to a range of senses, including audio and tactile as well as visual elements. Its staff are on hand to explain the displays in more depth, and its many dedicated volunteers act as gallery guides and assist with educational activities for children and adults.

Signal’s deaf awareness training gives an insight into the challenges which people with hearing loss face and equips people with tactics for clear and considerate communication. The museum’s engagement with this training shows that the passion for history and culture does not have to stop for people who are hard of hearing or deaf.

Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery has a permanent hearing loop system that is available for use in the galleries by advanced request, and it also welcomes assistance dogs. A loop system channels sound directly to a person’s hearing aid and dampens background noise.

One in six people in the UK has some form of hearing loss and this proportion is growing. It is already estimated that as many as one in five people in Shropshire lives with hearing loss, because of this county’s older population.

Adrian Perks, visitor facilities manager at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery, said:

“Nobody should be excluded from being able to get the most from the museum experience and the collections we have on display so we strive to ensure that Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery is accessible to all.  

“We’re all excited to be able to make the most of this opportunity to work with Signal and add to the measures we already take in making the museum inclusive to visitors with hearing loss.”

Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery has it engrained within its culture to be inclusive to all, whether it be visitors, staff or volunteers, and this project with Signal underlines its commitment to providing an enjoyable museum experience for all.

Heather Acheson, volunteer at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery, said:

“This training provided by Signal is a great opportunity for the staff and volunteers like myself to further develop our skills to help everybody to enjoy Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery.”

Emma Wilde, project officer at Signal, said:

“We at Signal are delighted to be involved in helping the staff and volunteers of Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery to understand and appreciate the requirements of people with hearing loss and accommodate any communication needs that they may have. The charity’s training will give the participants the chance to gain extra skills and confidence to help all visitors to enjoy the museum and its collections to their fullest.”

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