Jodi Awards 2009 at the Victoria and Albert Museum's Sackler Centre

By Richard Moss | 03 December 2009
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a photograph of a woman making a speech

The Jodi Awards were presented by Martha Lane Fox at the Victoria and Albert Museum's Sackler Centre. © C24

A raft of digital projects - ranging from a podcast scheme at the Museum of London to an innovative project exploring the Imperial War Museum’s collections at Duxford - were rewarded last night at the annual Jodi Awards.

The awards, which are for museums, galleries, libraries, archives, arts and heritage organisations using digital technology to enhance access to archives for disabled viewers, were presented by the government’s "digital champion", internet entrepreneur Martha Lane Fox, at the Victoria and Albert Museum's Sackler Education Centre in London.

Fox, who is registered disabled following a car crash in 2004, pointed out that 10 million people in Britain have never used the internet, four million of whom have some kind of disability.

"All of the work that many of you here are doing is absolutely fundamental in inspiring and motivating groups to think about technology in a different way," she said.

"It's not just about how you use the internet, it's about interacting with different kinds of technologies to enhance the opportunities you have in your life – and that's what I'm passionate about.

"I think that digital technologies and the skills to use them should be accessible to as many people as possible."

a photograph of a group of people

(Above) Last night's winners and commended entries at the Jodi Awards. © C24.

This year the awards incorporated a widened remit, actively encouraging applications from international projects as well as the arts sector. A first award of the evening, for Digital Access Online on a low budget, went to visually-impaired artist Sally Booth for her website.

The judges praised it for combining a "sense of creative adventure with comprehensive accessibility."

An award for Digital Access Online was presented to the Museum of London's Podcasts from the Past project, which saw long-term unemployed and ex-homeless people make podcasts for non-sighted museum visitors. A commendation also went to the lively Brighton-based arts website, Disability Arts Online.

The Imperial War Museum at Duxford scooped the award for Digital Access Onsite for their audio guide, developed with Antenna Audio, for visually impaired visitors.

Judges praised the way the podcast tour provided a "sophisticated interplay between handling original objects, immersive sound and different styles of descriptions."

A commendation in this category also went to Bradford Care Trust and Libraries Partnership, who are offering access to wide range of people with severe learning disabilities.

a photograph of a man making a speech

Director of the Jodi awards, Marcus Weisen, closes the proceedings at the V&A. © C24

Another Yorkshire-based project offering autism support for families at Leeds Library called Across the Board, took the new Digital Access for People with a Learning Disability award.

The joint winners of the new Digital Access Online International award were Regional Library of Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic and Dedicon in the Netherlands.

The Director of the Jodi awards, Marcus Weisen, closed proceedings by reflecting on this first international award, which has taken place almost 20 years after Vaclav Havel’s peaceful Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia.

"I wonder what Vaclav Havel would say to us today about accessible digital culture and what it could be?" he pondered.

"My thoughts were that he would say that all the great projects here today should be a commonplace and a matter of fact reality.

"I think we can take inspiration from Havel and I think we need to be more dissident…we should up the game. I think we can all share in this dream and transform this into reality. Let's keep working to come up with a great transformative offer."