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Enabling easy access to the South West's beauty spots

British Sign Language tours introduced at two top Devon heritage attractions.

Date Posted: 28 October 2019

Seaton Tramway and Lundy Island, two very different and unique heritage attractions in Devon, have now introduced special tours aimed explicitly at Deaf British Sign Language (BSL) users.

The new filmed tours feature a BSL signer, to help BSL users get a better understanding of the information presented at both attractions, and help them feel engaged with the history of the sites.

Many Deaf BSL users in the UK use BSL as their first language and may struggle with large panels of written English. By introducing the filmed BSL tours, Deaf visitors can receive information in a format they prefer.

The tours were developed by Heritage Ability, working closely with a Deaf BSL signer. Heritage Ability is a three-year initiative funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, to help improve accessibility at over 20 attractions in the South West.

Each BSL tour consists of several short film clips, signed by a volunteer Deaf BSL user. The volunteer, with a member of the Heritage Ability team, visit the heritage attraction to learn the history of the site in detail. The volunteer is then filmed, signing the relevant information in a way that is both engaging and informative for other Deaf BSL users. The clips are then transferred onto tablets, which are available to visitors on request, and can be picked up on arrival in the reception area. Visitors can use the tablets to travel around the site and access the information at their own pace. The clips are also uploaded to the Heritage Ability YouTube channel, for visitors to view on their own devices.

Paul Valentine, the Heritage Ability Deaf volunteer who features in the Lundy BSL tour, said:

“Having a BSL filmed tour available at attractions is so important. It helps BSL users who struggle with written English, to go out with their families and enjoy the heritage in the South West on an equal footing.”

Derek Green, General Manager at Lundy Island, said

“Introducing the new BSL filmed tour at Lundy, has allowed us to offer BSL users a much better experience to enjoy our unique island, Its history and wealth of wildlife. We are extremely grateful to Heritage Ability for their support and assistance to improve our access to Lundy for everyone.” 

Heritage Ability is managed by Living Options Devon, a local Exeter based charity. All LOD projects are developed or supported by people who have a first-hand understanding of the challenges faced by disabled people and Deaf BSL users.

Heather Brown, Deputy CEO of Living Options Devon, stated:

“It is fantastic that the new BSL filmed tours are now in place at Seaton Tramway and Lundy.

"Heritage Ability is working with 22 sites in the South West to help break down the barriers faced by Deaf BSL users visiting heritage attractions. We believe by providing information in a format BSL users are comfortable with, they can just relax and enjoy their day."