Introducing Heritage Ability

Authored by Sarah Bell

Heritage Ability is an exciting new project aiming to promote meaningful, inspiring and life enriching engagements with the South West’s rich and varied natural and cultural heritage. 

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Heritage Ability is run by Living Options Devon, a user-led organisation which empowers people with diverse disabilities to live the lives they choose. 

Building on the success of their earlier “Countryside Mobility” project,  Heritage Ability is working closely with 20 flagship sites across the South West to create exemplars and role models that demonstrate what can be done to promote such inclusive experiences, and the value of a community-led approach. It will run from 2017 to 2020.

I recently chatted to Dominic Acland, Sustainability Project Manager for the new initiative, who explained how it will encourage several changes to improve accessibility.

All-terrain scooters at each site will help to boost mobility and will be integrated into the existing Countryside Mobility Scheme.

Films for British Sign Language (BSL) users will be created by Deaf volunteers and will be available onsite via tablets, or pre-visit as a download. Tours with BSL users are also planned, led by Deaf volunteers who have been trained in the site's heritage.

A number of new materials will be created for people with sensory impairments and/or learning difficulties, including subtitles on all video material, and large-print and easy-read versions of literature.

Improvements for people with autism will also be included, for example through the creation of online visual stories. 

Drawing on the findings emerging from the Sensing Nature project, we will be working with the Heritage Ability project team over the next year or so to support them in exploring the varying needs and priorities of people living with diverse forms of sight impairment and blindness. 

Updates on these activities will be posted on these news pages as they progress during the project, so do keep checking back to find out more.