Pontefract Museum enhances accessibility

On 20 September, West Yorkshire Sight Loss Council (SLC) visited Pontefract Museum. The visit was at the request of the museum,
to further enhance accessibility for blind and partially sighted visitors.

Wakefield Museums and Castles are developing a new equality, diversity, and inclusion plan. As part of this, they want to increase awareness across their services.

Pontefract Museum has been trialling the use of RNIB Pen Friend to increase visitor interpretation at a temporary exhibition, ‘We’re All in this together: The Lockdown Art of Rachel List’.


Close up of the RNIB Pen Friend, touching the audio label signage next to a picture.

Image shows the RNIB pen friend in action


West Yorkshire SLC members were able to provide their feedback and recommendations to staff at the museum, many of which are already being acted upon.

This includes suggestions such as having tactile or raised markers on buttons where audio visual content is in the galleries. Another is around providing pen friend audio description for use with the main gallery displays. The museum is also prioritising visual impairment training for the wider teams, with dates in 2023 to be put forward.

As a result of the visit and feedback, the museum is committed to working alongside blind and partially sighted people with lived experience of sight loss to further improve their services.


Team member using the pen friend on a picture of Captain Tom Moore.

Image shows someone using the pen friend on a picture at the exhibition

Feedback from the visit

Iain Mitchell, Senior Engagement Manager for Yorkshire and Humberside, said:

“It was so refreshing to work with a proactive team at Pontefract Museum. They really want to create an accessible and inclusive experience for blind and partially sighted visitors. We look forward to working with them on future projects.”

Louise Bragan, Senior Officer: Programming and Learning, Wakefield Museums and Castles, added:

“It is hoped the relationship between Wakefield Museums and Castles and the SLC will develop even further to support the proposed move of Wakefield Museum in the future. Embedding conversations with members of the SLC will be integral in developing a new site and supporting blind and partially sighted people in our local community.”

Accessibility measures in the Rachel List exhibition have been praised by the Hayley Grocock, CEO of Wakefield District Sight Aid, who said:

“My family and I visited Pontefract Museum last Monday and we were particularly impressed with the accessibility features that had been included in the Rachel List exhibition. How wonderful to see audio description, Makaton symbols and Braille being featured. Further proof, as if it were required, of how wonderful our museum service is in Wakefield and how fortunate we are to have it.”

Leanne Best, West Yorkshire Sight Council member, added:

“It was such a good experience to work with a museum that really wanted to hear our feedback and will use it in their future exhibitions.”

West Yorkshire SLC is looking forward to returning to the museum to deliver visual awareness training to staff. They also look forward to visiting and offering further reviews of other sites. to help inform inclusion objectives.


Image shows from left to right, SLC member Leanne Best, SLC coordinator Graham Bowe, and SLC member Hilary Boon.

Image shows SLC member Leanne Best, SLC co-ordinator Graham Bowe, and SLC member Hilary Boon


Interested in joining West Yorkshire Sight Loss Council?

Are you blind or partially sighted? Are you interested in joining the Sight Loss Council to help create positive change for others?

West Yorkshire Sight Loss Council, funded by Thomas Pocklington Trust, is led by blind and partially sighted people and recruiting new members. Together, they tackle local issues and work with businesses and service providers to improve the accessibility of their services.

Visit our West Yorkshire Sight Loss Council page to learn more

Useful Links

‘We Are All in it Together: The Lockdown Art of Rachel List’ exhibition at Pontefract Museum is on until Saturday 29 October 2022. A brief explanation of the exhibition by Rachel can be viewed at https://fb.watch/fSMpCCfYOP/

Details and access information about Pontefract Museum can be found at https://www.wakefield.gov.uk/museums-and-castles/pontefract-museum


Publication date: 05 October 2022

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