Rethinking disability

People in 'The Blind School' exhibition at the Museum of Liverpool
9 Mar 2018
1-4.30pm, then drinks reception 4.30-5.30pm
Suitable for:
Free event, pre-booking is essential

Rethinking disability: what needs to change in museums and galleries?

Free symposium at the Museum of Liverpool 1-4.30pm, with a drinks reception 4.30-5.30pm.

It is clear that most museums and galleries have a strong commitment to diversity but are still failing to represent disabled people in their workforce and through their exhibitions and collections.

The Rethinking Disability symposium is an opportunity for the museums and galleries sector to come together to get to grips with why these challenges continue to exist and start to work on a manifesto that has the potential to bring about real and lasting change.

On 12 January 2018 Arts Council England produced a report 'Making a Shift' that showed a shocking lack of deaf and disabled people make up the workforce. Museum collections also rarely highlight the stories of deaf and disabled people, and exhibitions often fall short of what might be deemed as truly accessible.

Join us to show solidarity and commitment to improving the accessibility, visibility and involvement of disabled people within the sector as well as speak frankly and openly about what is working and what is not within this area.

The symposium will include:

  • Keynote speakers:
    • The University of Leicester’s Jocelyn Dodd reflecting on the progress the sector has made, ten years on from the ground breaking Rethinking Disability Representation project and report
    • Sharon Heal, Director of the Museums Association, speaking about why improving the accessibility, visibility and involvement of disabled people within the sector is a key concern for them
  • An opportunity to hear and learn from the curatorial team from M Shed Bristol, the Museum of Liverpool and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London who have all been instrumental in shaping the History of Place exhibitions
  • VocalEyes will be represented by Anna Fineman, who will be discussing their current research into the provision of access information for disabled visitors on museum websites.
  • A chance to see the landmark accessible exhibition The Blind School: Pioneering People and Places, which explores the history of the UK’s first school for blind people

This is an opportunity to look further at how museums and galleries can change lives and make a difference, becoming social hubs to think about issues of equality, empowerment and engagement.

This symposium is part of History of Place, a national project run by Accentuate, which explores 800 years of disability history through eight different sites around the UK.


Places are free of charge and are limited, to be assigned on a first come first served basis. Early booking is strongly advised and limited to two places per person. Please be aware that if you register and subsequently find you are unable to attend you must cancel your registration.

You can book now by emailing

Please let us know of any specific access requirements that you have when you book. At the time of booking please also let us know if you are representing an organisation and if you are happy to be named in our delegates packs to enable networking.


British Sign Language interpretation and speech to text will be provided during the symposium. There will also be sighted guides available should you need them. If you have any further access requirements please let us know by contacting

You can find more information about access at the Museum of Liverpool on the Access page of the website.

This event is part of our The Blind School event series.