How are Museums and galleries made accessible for deaf people

The Equality Act 2010 1995 requires service providers (including museums) to change policies, practices and procedures; to remove barriers which may make it unreasonably difficult or impossible for a disabled person to use their service; and/or to provide auxiliary aids or services to enable disabled people to use their services.
Deafness is the second most common ‘disability’ after mobility disability.  Therefore, if you provide accessible events for deaf people, you are in line to grow your audience/visitor sizes.
Many people often ask, “What should I be doing to provide access for Deaf people?” We hope this quick guide will give you some ideas that can easily be implemented and get your venue to provide accessible tours and talks.

Where to start?

Have a look through your programme of upcoming events and decide which event you would like to make accessible.  If it is a talk or a tour that you would like Deaf people to access, then book a BSL Interpreter for the talk.  Make sure that if there are any post-talk workshops, the interpreter is also booked for this.
Take a look at MAGIC to see how other venues have made their events accessible, and maybe attend a few to see what can be achieved.
Download the free BSL app NPG BSL to see the innovative work that has been done by the National Portrait Gallery.
Advertise, advertise, advertise!  In providing such a service, you want to ensure that it is being used. There are various places that you can advertise, such as: joining MAGIC, adding your event to relevant e-groups such as deaf-uk-events and, of course, advertising on terptree’s public events calendar by emailing us at  Never forget to put as much information on your own website as possible.

What else can be done?
  • Book some Deaf Awareness Training or send your staff on a basic BSL course – this will not only make the event accessible but also enhance the whole experience. Contact terptree at for a helpful tip sheet on communicating with Deaf people.
  • Remind the box office that an interpreter has been booked and instruct them on where the interpreter is needed.
  • Take a team approach.  Ensure that all members of the team, from production to front of the house; are aware of the needs of the new audience that you wish to attract.
  • You could have a ‘welcomer’ who can communicate in basic BSL to make Deaf people feel welcomed.
  • Create a mailing list of Deaf patrons as they access your service, and ensure that all of your methods of communication are accessible; by sending emails and SMS to Deaf people.

For more information:

MAGIC is fourteen museums and galleries in London that provide events and facilities for deaf and hard-of-hearing visitors. MAGIC’s members are the British Museum, Courtauld Institute, London Transport Museum, Museum of London, National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, National Maritime Museum, Photographers’ Gallery, Royal Academy of Arts, Serpentine Gallery, Somerset House, Tate Britain, Tate Modern, Victoria & Albert Museum and the Whitechapel Art Gallery
Pesky People aims to seek and create solutions that improve digital access and inclusion. 
Signed Culture is a membership organisation which gives you the support and advice you need to run accessible events and they can help you advertise directly to the deaf community.
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