Tyne & Wear Museums Lead The Way With British Sign Language Tours

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 14 September 2007
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a photograph of a man using sign language

The north east's museums are leading the way in providing innovative British Sign Language tours. © Tyne and Wear Museums

Museums in the north east are leading the way in providing innovative British Sign Language (BSL) tours as the first provider of such tours in the UK and one of only three museums providing the service in Europe.

A project, named Our Way, aims to roll out BSL activities across Tyne and Wear Museums and to enable total access, inclusion and recognition of the deaf community.

The project was facilitated by the North East Regional Museums Hub through the Renaissance programme. The North East Hub are one of the first in the country to offer BSL tours and activities to the deaf community.

Every Saturday throughout September, the Our Way project is running museum tours across Tyne and Wear Museums’ venues. The tours, delivered by Deaf BSL users, cover a wide range of topics from the history of Tyne and Wear to Roman archaeology.

“We are excited that we are leading the field with this innovative and inspiring project which aims to give deaf people in the region a chance to engage with museums and culture," said Martin Macmurtrie, BSL project co-ordinator at Tyne and Wear Museums.

"It is important that museums connect with everyone in their local communities and providing BSL lead activities for the deaf community is a significant step towards achieving this goal.”

Trialled in Tyne and Wear Museums’ venues, the tours are to be rolled out to various museums in the region including Beamish, The Bowes Museum and Hartlepool Museums.

The next tour on Saturday September 15 2007 will uncover the Life of a Soldier exhibition at Discovery Museum, Newcastle.