There have been a number of museum and heritage projects working with people with learning difficulties with all levels of support needs. Some explicitly evaluating and auditing museum provision and developing guidelines, suggestions or training.
There is the Access to Heritage group in Liverpool (Liverpool Mencap), who have also published outcomes of their research. http://www.mencapliverpool.org.uk/accesstoeritage/
There is the Me2 project, link to Dudley Borough Council, (also Mencap), which has also lead the recent MLA strategic commissioning training in this area http://www.mencap.org.uk/page.asp?id=14940.
I am also currently working on a project called Museums for Us - just getting going now - based at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. (website link below). As part of this I will be working with people with learning difficulties who communicate in a variety of ways and have varied levels of support need. Part of the aim of the project is to link museum practice to approaches of communication and interaction drawn from self-advocacy contexts and innovative practice in inclusive learning and person-centred practice in social care contexts. Do sign up on the website for projects updates if you are interested! http://museumsforus.wordpress.com/
There are also many other projects I know about from the GEM list... people who worked on them will probably come forward too. See also the recent Jodi Award winners.
However, it's also worth noting that there are also an increasing number of heritage projects being led by people with learning difficulties. E.g. Central England People First have an HLF grant to research, archive and share their own history. Carlisle People First did a fantastic project on people with learning difficulties experiences of the Second World War with Tullie House Museum. There has also been a number of HLF projects, involving people with learning difficulties as collaborators e.g. a project I was involved in called the History of Day Centres in Croydon. All connected to the Social History of Learning Disability group at The Open University. http://www.open.ac.uk/hsc/ldsite/
There are also some great examples of inclusive approaches to permanent exhibitions where people with learning difficulties' histories and experiences are included alongside others... not least the Museum of Croydon but also Northern Spirit: 300 Years of Art from the North-East at Laing Art Gallery and have heard Redbridge Museum is currently doing something similar.
Basically, there's lots and lots of exciting work going on in this area ... as part of the project I'm trying to draw together all the work - and many projects - going on in this area in the UK and the US and beyond so we can all learn from each other.
So if you have been involved in working on museum or heritage projects with people with learning difficulties do write to me off list and I'll do a document to send round the GEM list and also, if you'd like, add your project to the Museums for Us website here with the ultimately aim (which I'm currently working on) of working with the project group here to co-design a more accessible website that anyone can add their project to as a collaboratively-produced ongoing resource.
Best wishes, Helen
International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies
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Museums for Us: Exploring Museums with People with Intellectual Disabilities project, Smithsonian Institution
From: List for discussion of issues in museum education in the UK. [[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Claire Adler [[log in to unmask]]
Sent: 08 December 2010 11:37
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Evaluation of Special Needs adults
I was wondering if anyone had developed any evaluation programmes with adults with severe physical and/ or learning disabilities. If so do you have any words of advice?
Many thanks in advance
Heritage Learning Consultant
268 Cherry Hinton Road
E: [log in to unmask]
T: 01223 411555
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