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Delegates committed to put training into action


Published by HearFirst for HearFirst in Education and also in Communities

Delegates participate in the one-day in-house interactive sensory awareness training course Delegates participate in the one-day in-house interactive sensory awareness training course

A group of delegates from five North West museums and galleries attended a one-day in-house interactive sensory awareness training course to improve the service that they deliver to their visitors with sensory disabilities.

The course was delivered to sixteen delegates representing Manchester City Art Gallery, Manchester Museum, Whitworth Art Gallery, John Rylands Library and The Lowry where they learned the fundamental aspects of deaf, visual and deafblind awareness.

The pioneering course, which was organised by Manchester Museum and Whitworth Art Gallery, was delivered within the exhibition spaces and recreated an environment through the eyes and ears of someone who is deaf, blind or both.

The learning experience helped staff to identify barriers which deaf and blind people may face and also gave them the skills and confidence to know how to approach people with sensory disabilities.

The course, which was delivered by award winning workplace training and consultancy company HearFirst, was facilitated by two tutors who themselves have hearing and sight loss respectively.  This added relevance and depth to the training.  

The group ended the day by developing a series of pledges from the training which they agreed to put into action within their workplace.

Chad McGitchie, Head of Visitor Services at Manchester Museum and Whitworth Art Gallery, said: “A section of our department vision is to be a dependable resource to ensure access, safety and well-being for our staff and visitors.   Collaborating with Julie and Graham has been a fantastic experience. They really understood how we work and produced a bespoke training session that educated, engaged and got the teams excited about how we better deliver access to all our visitors.  Another brilliant training session delivered by HearFirst!" 

Sarah Sanders, Visitor Services Assistant at Manchester Museum and Whitworth Art Gallery who attended the training, said: “I really enjoyed the course and it was useful to identify how we can provide a better service to our visitors who may have a sensory disability.

“I feel much more confident to be able to help someone with any sensory impairments and hopefully I would be able to recognise someone, if not ask.”

Julie Ryder, Director and Founder of HearFirst, said: “It was really interesting to work with the delegates and see how they grew and flourished during the day.  Staff are a key asset to Museums and Galleries and with the right approach, they can greatly enhance the visitor experience for people with disabilities.   

“We delivered the course within the public spaces so delegates could get a feel for the environment that visitors experience and this allowed them to understand potential barriers and how they could overcome these.  The response to the training was very positive and we will be revisiting all delegates to find out how they have implemented their pledges and how this has improved services to blind, Deaf or deafblind visitors.”

HearFirst provides a full range of equality & diversity training courses to organisations across the UK.  For more information on Deaf, disability awareness and BSL training, please contact Julie at HearFirst on 01706 872 816 or visit


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