2007 Jodi Accessibility Awards Announced At British Museum

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 14 June 2007
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Harry (left, in short-sleeved shirt) and Esther Mattes (far right, front) join Jodi Mattes award winners at the British Museum © Jon Pratty/24 Hour Museum

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Sponsorship for the Jodi Awards 2007 is provided by Simulacra, delivering in-gallery and web-based technologies for museums, libraries and archives.

A DVD film tour of ancient castle staircases and vaults and an innovative website illustrating the life of a child prisoner in the 1800s are among winners of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council Jodi Awards 2007.

The awards recognise excellence in museum, library, archive or heritage projects that use technology to provide access to collections by disabled people.

Announced by Lord Rix at a ceremony at the British Museum on June 13 2007, the winners were selected from a shortlist of entries that included innovative uses of websites, in-gallery interactives, audio-guides and PDAs (personal digital assistants) – each scrutinised by a panel of judges and tested by disabled users.

“As a life-long campaigner for the rights of disabled people, I am impressed by the imagination and dedication of museums, libraries and archives,” said Lord Rix. “They lead the cultural sector in promoting inclusive technology and the best are an inspiration to society as whole.”

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Andy Minnion, of the Rix Centre, speaks about the work they do with learning disabled children © Jon Pratty/24 Hour Museum

A Jodi Award for Excellence in Accessible Technology went to Wolverhampton Arts and Museums Service for their commitment to developing a range of services for deaf visitors and engaging with the deaf community.

Amongst a range of developments the museum has introduced is a PDA guide with British Sign Language (BSL). Visitor information in BSL is also available on the museum’s website.

“We are bowled over by the Award,” said Linda Ellis, ICT Development Officer, Wolverhampton Arts and Museums Service. “It is a wonderful recognition which fuels our commitment. Deaf people are among the most excluded in society.”

The judges were impressed that as well as guided tours, a PDA guide and visitor information on the website with BSL, the Museum is also developing a Deaf History exhibition which will include videos of deaf people signing their experience of living and working in Wolverhampton.

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Linda Ellis, of Wolverhampton Arts and Museums, welcomes their award - the second year running that Wolverhampton have bagged an award. © Jon Pratty/24 Hour Museum

The Jodi Award for Excellence in Accessible Technology – Low Budgets was awarded to the Audio-Read Navigator Project, from Doncaster Library and Information Services.

A purpose built and easy to use digital audio player aimed at visually impaired users, the navigator has dispensed with the need for library users to carry home a bagful of cassettes or CDs.

Feedback from visually impaired users has been passed onto Anthony Blackwood at Audio Read in Australia who designed Navigator. He in turn is modifying the units.

A Jodi Award for Excellence in Website Accessibility went to Prisoner 4099, a National Archives learning site created by blind and partially sighted students from across the country about Victorian crime.

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The National Archives won a Jodi Award for Excellence for their Prisoner 4099 website award© Jon Pratty/24 Hour Museum

The radio play produced by the students is based on the life of a 12-year-old boy, William Towers, who was sent to prison for stealing. It covers the events as seen in the minds of modern teenagers and shows how they might feel and deal with a similar situation.

Colchester Castle won a Commendation for Excellence in Accessible Technology for its innovative DVD tour of inaccessible parts of Colchester Castle which communicates some of the atmosphere and sound qualities in the different tour locations, thus giving a quality of experience close to the real tour.

The tour exists in a version for adults and for children and both have been provided with BSL. Through their Renaissance funding, Colchester Museums has been consistently stretching the boundaries of access provision for disabled people in the East of England, and has an excellent consultation mechanism in PORTAL, the museum's advisory group of disabled people.

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Sophie Weaver of Colchester Museums © Jon Pratty/24 Hour Museum

The Jodi Awards are developed and sustained by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), 24 Hour Museum, the British Museum, the University of Leicester and CYMAL: Museums Archives and Libraries Wales.

Commenting on the winners, Chris Batt, MLA Chief Executive said: “The winners of this year’s Jodi Awards all demonstrate a huge enthusiasm for challenging boundaries. They demonstrate the power of technology to transform access to collections for disabled people."

"They are at the cutting edge of tomorrow’s good practice and show that the use of technology need not create new barriers. The winners all share a commitment to involving and designing services with users.”

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Staff from Doncaster Library and Information Service accept their award from Lord Rix © Jon Pratty/24 Hour Museum

It was also announced that next year’s awards will include a new award to be given for the best use of technology to make collections accessible to people with a learning difficulty.

“This is an exciting new partnership between the Jodi Awards and the Rix Centre,” said Lord Rix. “People with a learning disability are often overlooked when new services are being developed and we want to change this.”

The 2007 judging panel comprised: Ross Parry (Chair), Department of Museums Studies, University of Leicester; Rebecca McGinnis, Metropolitan Museum, New York; Jon Pratty, 24 Hour Museum; Edwina Smart, Pontyprydd Library and Marcus Weisen, Policy Adviser: Inclusion and Communities, MLA.

The Jodi Committee were pleased to acknowledge the continued support for the prize from their sponsors Simulacra