SHIRE Hall Historic Courthouse Museum in Dorchester has launched new accessible interpretation for visitors with visual impairments. There is a braille guide with tactile images, a large print guide and a new audio guide. These will make the courthouse museum on High West Street, Dorchester, even more accessible for all.

The guides were generously funded by Dorchester Town Council. Former Mayor Susie Hosford worked with the team to get them created and she and current Mayor of Dorchester, David Taylor, visited the museum to see the new guides. The braille and tactile image guide was created by the RNIB (The Royal National Institute of Blind People). The audio descriptive guide contains visually descriptive text written specially for people with visual impairments, and the handset has raised buttons for ease of use.

Leah Cross Community Support Worker from Dorset Blind Association said: “This is really fantastic for my service users. It is great when people go above and beyond to make an experience as accessible as possible for all disabilities. My social groups will be coming along to try out the museum and see how the new braille and large print descriptions enhance their experience.”

Councillor Susie Hosford said the guides were ‘fantastic.’ She added: “It’s great that everyone, no matter their requirements, can be involved in the museum”.

Mayor David Taylor said that it made Shire Hall an even better resource for everyone in Dorchester. He added: “I think it’s of enormous importance that everyone’s included.”

Shire Hall Director Anna Bright said the guides had an important connection to the museum’s core theme of social justice. She said: “For us, our commitment to access for all is a way of putting into practice the issues we talk about all the time.”

The new accessible interpretation is part of the team’s effort to make the courthouse museum even more assessible for everyone. Last month they were awarded a Highly Commended at the South West Tourism Awards for their work on Access and Inclusivity at the museum on High West Street, Dorchester. They also won a silver award for Tourism Innovation.

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