Kents Cavern Helps Deaf Visitors Step Into the Stone Age
Working with Heritage Ability, Deaf visitors to the cavern are now able to experience the tour in British Sign Language.
For the first time ever, Kents Cavern in Torquay has developed British Sign Language videos (BSL), enabling the Deaf community to access one of the most important Stone Age sites in Europe.
The videos explain the origins of this impressive cave, its key features and how ancient humans used the cave as a settlement.
The BSL videos have been created and presented by a Deaf volunteer from Heritage Ability. Heritage Ability is a scheme helping over 20 heritage places across the South West to become more accessible to disabled people and Deaf people. It is one of many services offered by user-led disability charity Living Options Devon. All of its initiatives are developed or supported by people who have a first-hand understanding of the challenges faced by disabled people and Deaf people.
Paul Valentine, the Heritage Ability Deaf volunteer who features in the video said: “I really enjoy going for days out to places like Kents Cavern as I have a real passion for heritage, but often I can’t fully understand any of the history or stories when I get there. I really wanted to help make a difference to the Deaf community so they could enjoy these places like everyone else, which is why I got involved with Heritage Ability. It’s been really fun to learn about the places that are involved and interpret their history for others.”
For many Deaf people, English is their second language. This means that simply providing written information or subtitles on videos is not always enough.
Elliot Ling, Education Officer at Kents Cavern said: “It’s wonderful to finally be able to offer a BSL guided tour of Kents Cavern. Visitors can borrow the tablet to use on their cave tour when they visit and explore the rest of the site at their own leisure. If the tablet is already in use, visitors can simply download the BSL clips onto their personal devices from our website. We’re excited to be working with Heritage Ability over the next two years to further our accessibility across a range of disabilities.”