Report: Heritage Access 2022
A VocalEyes, in partnership with Stagetext, Autism in Museums and the Centre for Accessible Environments report highlighting the importance of online access information for the UK museum and heritage sector. It also tracks the changes in the state of access over the past four years from 2018 to 2022.
The report includes guidance for venue staff on creating and presenting access information online, covering around 40 different access aids, facilities, resources, and events. Using data and best-practice examples, the report is structured to mirror the visitor journey, covering aspects from pre-visit research such as finding and getting to a venue (such as directions, parking and step-free and level access), aids and facilities at the venue (such as toilets, lifts, Large Print guides, induction loops) and downloadable resources that can be used at the venue (such as sensory maps and visual stories).
The report also breaks down the different media types in which web content is presented, and gives clear, non-technical guidance on how to ensure that text, links, images, video, audio, and downloadable documents are all accessible. It also covers tips for inclusive communication with visitors.
We can draw three main conclusions about the provision of museum and heritage access information from a comparison of the figures from Heritage Access 2022 with those from State of Museum Access 2018.
1. There was no change in the overall proportion of museums and heritage sites that have, or do not have access information on their website.
81% of museums and heritage sites in 2022 (1834/2258) and 81% of accredited museums (1301/1606) in 2018 had some form of access information.
Thus, the proportion of museums and heritage sites with no access information remained at nearly 1 in 5 (19%).
There remains a significant task to engage with these 400+ cultural heritage venues and convince them of the importance of providing access information for their visitors.
2. The amount of information about access provision at museum and heritage sites has increased significantly since 2018. While this does not necessarily reflect that onsite accessibility has improved, we can conclude that those venues with access information are providing much more of this in 2022 than they did in 2018. This is a very positive development with significant benefits for disabled visitors.
3. There were significant increases in the proportion of sites that mentioned aspects relevant to all or a large proportion of visitors with access requirements, while the increases are less marked for information for groups who have historically been under-recognised as requiring
All those access aids, facilities, resources or events included in our checklists in both 2018 and 2022 have shown an increase in mentions. While this is very positive, with a few exceptions, those which show larger increases are aspects which started with a higher baseline and were mainly connected with people who face mobility barriers.
Information relevant to blind and visually impaired people, D/deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people, and neurodivergent people do show increased mentions, but from a lower baseline, and in the majority of cases not as large.
Tables showing the proportion of venues each year that mentioned specific access provisions in State of Museum Access 2018 and Heritage Access 2022.
|Disability awareness training||10%||21%|
|‘Getting there’ information||19%||32%|
|Accessible/Blue Badge parking||48%||64%|
|Changing Places toilets||4%||8%|
Blind and visually impaired people
|Recorded audio-described guides||3%||6%|
|Live audio description tours||5%||7%|
|Large Print resources||20%||33%|
D/deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people
|Captioning on AV material||3%||7%|
|Transcripts of AV material||4%||5%|
|BSL signed tours||3%||4%|
Neurodivergent people/sensory access
Note that for the tables above, 1% of the total venues surveyed equates to around 13 venues (2018) or 18 venues (2022).
The aspects listed above are those where we have 2018 and 2022 data for direct comparison. These are only a selection of access aids relevant for
these groups and we do imply that these are the only appropriate or useful ways of developing access and inclusion.
Download the report