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RNIB launches buddy scheme in the South East to make museums accessible for people with sight loss

RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) is launching a scheme that connects blind and partially sighted people with a volunteer buddy to make museums and culture more accessible in South East England.

The Heritage Buddy Scheme is part of the Heritage Lottery funded Sensing Culture partnership between RNIB and five heritage organisations. The scheme aims to increase independence for blind and partially sighted people when they visit museums and heritage sites. The volunteer buddies will help blind and partially sighted visitors make the most out of their trip by providing them with tailored information and support. Training for the scheme’s buddies starts in January 2017.

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Lindsey Holmes, RNIB’s Project Manager for Sensing Culture, said: “The Heritage Buddy Scheme aims to open up museums to people with sight loss who may be apprehensive about visiting. Blind and partially sighted people tell us they want the opportunity to experience culture just like anyone else.

“We have a brilliant group of buddies who are raring to go and be trained in the New Year. Buddies will share their knowledge about the museum or heritage site, provide support, and hopefully make friends along the way.

“We’re grateful to the Heritage Lottery for its funding because without its support this project wouldn’t be possible.”

Jayne Paulin, a volunteer buddy from Sussex, said: “I’m really excited about being involved in the Heritage Buddy Scheme. When I first heard about it I thought it was absolutely perfect because I’ve always been interested in heritage. This is a great way to combine my passion with helping local blind and partially sighted people.

“I’m interested to find out the different ways of accessing heritage, learning how to guide people with sight loss, and about audio description. I’ll be able to share my knowledge of heritage and learn new skills.”

There are still spaces available on the training for buddies. To find out more about this and Sensing Culture please email: Lindsey.Holmes@rnib.org.uk.

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