National Army Museum seeks participants for trials of latest interpretive tools

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The National Army Museum is launching a pilot programme of interpretative tools to support its latest special exhibition Unseen Enemy. Starting in September 2013, the tools are for members of the blind and partially-sighted, plus deaf and hard of hearing communities. The Museum will be offering a range of tools to improve accessibility to the exhibition content and is looking for participants to help test approaches ahead of a major redevelopment.

Unseen Enemy is a thought-provoking exhibition, which explores the impact of the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) on the British Army, with a focus on the work undertaken within Afghanistan. The two trails form part of a range of pilot projects that the Museum is undertaking to better understand the needs of audiences and are being developed with some of the injured service personnel featured in the exhibition, in mind.

Developed in conjunction with specialist partners Terptree – a consultancy specialising in developing materials for the deaf and hard of hearing communities – and Vocal Eyes – a team who work closely with cultural organisations in developing content suitable for the blind and partially-sighted community – the trails utilise a range of techniques including integration of British Sign Language (BSL) and an audio descriptive guide.

The pilot programme forms part of the Museum’s Building for the Future project, an ambitious programme of activities that mark a step change in the way in which the Museum delivers its offer including a major renovation to the Chelsea site. As a part of the development activity, NAM is undertaking a range of pilot programmes to test new concepts and ideas to evaluate their effectiveness ahead of the development of the new offer.

Learning and Outreach Devleopment Officer Charlotte Churchill, who is overseeing the pilot project says “This is the first time that the NAM has developed materials specifically to support the needs of the blind and partially-sighted and deaf and hard of hearing communities. I think it is a really important opportunity for us to explore what does and doesn’t work in improving the visitor experience of our exhibitions and I know that everything we learn from it will feed directly into the way in which our new permanent galleries are being developed.

Exhibition Curator Amy Cameron said, “During the course of developing the exhibition I have met with soldiers who have sustained injuries from IEDs, including some who have had their sight and hearing affected. It is therefore important to be able to offer tools which can help them to access the content of an exhibition, inspired by and demonstrating their incredible stories”

The tools being developed include BSL signing, subtitles and transcriptions to all audio-visual content and audio descriptive tours offered via a mobile device. The NAM will be offering the BSL and subtitling facilities for the remainder of the run of the exhibition from September 2013 till March 2014, though the audio descriptive guide will only be available during the pilots. We are specifically looking for participants to take part in the formal trial of the resources during September 2013. Anybody looking to take part in the trial should contact Charlotte Churchill on cchurchill@nam.ac.uk.

Unseen Enemy, Free exhibition. Now open to 31 March 2014, from 10am to 5.30pm at the National Army Museum, Royal Hospital Road, London, SW3 4HT
Museum website – www.nam.ac.uk
Exhibition website – www.nam.ac.uk/unseen-enemy

The National Army Museum explores the impact of the British Army on the story of Britain, Europe and the world; how Britain’s past has helped to shape our present and our future and how the actions of a few can
affect the futures of many. The National Army Museum was established by Royal Charter to tell the story of the Land Forces of the Crown wherever they were raised. Opened by the Queen in 1960, it moved to its current site in Chelsea in 1971.

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