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Community Engagement12th October 2023

World Sight Day – improving access for all

For World Sight Day 2023, we wanted to highlight some of our recent partnership work to increase the accessibility of the Historic Dockyard.

Community Exhibitions

Magical Maritime Mysteries

This year Kent Association for the Blind (KAB) arts groups from Mess Room CIC, Peer Arts and Deaf Peer Arts responded to our current temporary exhibition Monsters of the Deep. They created a fun, tactile world of Magical Maritime Mysteries in the No.1 Smithery Forge. Jaws, complete with severed limb and the Lion’s Mane Jellyfish, have been firm favourites for all ages.

For Medway Open Studios this year a mini version of this exhibition was created for the Namur Room community space by the same groups of visually impaired artists.

Magical Maritime Mysteries Exhibition with Shark sculpture

Audio Described Tours

Over the past few years we have been working with local artist, and KAB volunteer, Wendy Daws to develop and facilitate audio described tours for visually impaired visitors. We have delivered tours based on temporary exhibitions and other key Dockyard themes.

Audio Described Tour in Command of the Oceans. Female tour guide speaking to group of visitors.

We delivered the first ever audio described of our historic ships HMS CAVALIER and GANNET this summer which also officially launched the Medway Open Studios exhibition.

Group picture on deck of HMS Cavalier.

Image credit: Gary Weston

Site Audits

AccessAble completed an audit of our site this year which highlighted access details for each gallery space. These guides are now available to view on our website.

We also worked with KAB to do a visually impaired visitor focused site audit. This helped to identify some access issues which we are now working across departments to address.


Last year a group of our staff took part in the free sight awareness training being offered to businesses by KAB. This was a really practical session with lots of useful advice. The guiding practice was certainly a learning curve, especially when it came to stairs.

We have recently completed similar training with KAB, working with staff on the ground and those that help support our various access tours. We did more practical site-specific guiding in more challenging areas like HMS CAVALIER and Command of the Oceans which really helped us experience our site from the perspective of a visually impaired visitor.

For the first time this year, we included an access element in our start of season training for all staff and volunteers – including a shorter version of the KAB sight awareness training.

In line with our ED&I strategy, we will continue to develop this work to ensure that our site is accessible to all.

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