Access for all in museums, galleries and sites should be a central tenet of any institutional policy. Provision of physical and intellectual access for people with disabilities and SEN should be made.


‘Access’ in museums and galleries can refer to many different areas of provision, from car parking facilities to panel text. When addressing access all aspects of the visitor or staff experience should be taken into account.


By improving provision for those who are considered ‘disabled’ – for example people with mobility problems, visual impairments or learning difficulties – others can also benefit, such as parents with pushchairs, senior citizens and overseas tourists.


Physical Access
Physical access for people with mobility problems can be very difficult to provide in old buildings. The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) in 1995 was extended with the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 and gives disabled people equal rights in education and access to goods, facilities and services. All public services must comply with this Act.


Intellectual Access
Intellectual access is about ensuring that visitors and staff can understand the information that is given to them, regardless of their social or educational background, cultural heritage, mental health, reading level, learning difficulties or subject knowledge. Intellectual Access can also mean that the museum or gallery experience should be relevant to visitors’ lives and understanding.


Further information on provision and assistance for intellectual and physical access is available here:

  • Disability Portfolio. The Disability Portfolio is a collection of 12 guides on how best to meet the needs of disabled people as users and staff in museums, archives and libraries. It gives invaluable advice, information and guidance to help overcome barriers and follow good practice. Disability Portfolio is now archived at here >>.
  • Welcoming your visually impaired customers: arts and heritage (RNIB, revised 2002).
  • Talking Images Research – Museums, galleries and heritage sites: improving access for blind and partially sighted people (RNIB and Vocaleyes, 2003)
  • Access Plans: helping your application (Heritage Lottery Fund, 2003)




Return to ‘People with Disabilities’