Museum’s journey towards inclusive access

Over 150 visitors enjoyed a free and inclusive Open Day and Access Conference at Kelham Island Museum on Saturday 11 March as part of Disabled Access Day 2017.

Disabled Access Day is a nationwide event that encourages disabled people, their friends and families to try something different and visit somewhere they’ve never been before.

All about ‘You and Somewhere New’, the event saw hundreds of places holding events where disabled people are encouraged to discover accessible museums, theatres, cafes, shops and more. The three-day event is powered by Euan’s Guide, the disabled access review website which is used by people to share and discover accessible places to visit.

Following on the success of the first Disabled Access Day event in 2016, the industrial museum showcased how it has used funding from Arts Council England to make its historic industrial sites more accessible to everyone as well marking the day with a wide range of free informative and friendly talks and activities for adults and children including an Access Conference.

The day started with an Autism Friendly Hour with reduced sensory input in the museum, where visitors could also peruse information stalls from local and national Disabled Access Groups.

Families and younger visitors enjoyed storytelling with puppets, BSL tours and sensory tours of the museum - a guided exploration of the museum’s stories through touch, smell and sound   - as well as experiencing the mighty River Don Engine in full steam.

The Access Conference ‘Science of Accessibility: Making Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths Accessible to All’ featured a series of talks throughout the day giving insight into Sheffield Industrial Museum’s Trust’s journey towards inclusive access and how the team are working with partners including Sheffield Hallam University, Eye Can, CONVRTS and Safe Places to break new ground.

Commenting on their involvement in Disabled Access Day, Helen Gabbitas, Community and Learning Projects Manager at Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust says:

“We really enjoyed taking part in Disabled Access Day again this year. Throughout the day there was a really friendly atmosphere around the museum. It was great to chat with the visitors and see the sensory tours so well attended, we have also picked up lots of ideas for future events”

Sarah Hornby also attended with her son Luke who said:

“We spent the full day at Kelham Island. There were lots to do and see and Luke really enjoyed himself. His favourite parts of the day were the puppet show, the steam engine and the children’s play area. He also enjoyed climbing in the old engine and being able to handle the tools.

The staff were very friendly, helpful and knowledgeable and the building was well designed for Luke to access everything in his frame easily and safely.  Thank you for a wonderful day. We will definitely be making a return visit”

The Disabled Access Day at Kelham Island Museum took place on Saturday 11 March 10am - 4pm, FREE admission.

For further information about Disabled Access Day please contact the Community and Learning Team on 0114 201 0625 or email or visit

Sarah Hornby with son Luke taking part in Disabled Access Day at Kelham Island Museum 2017.

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