Disability & Access OfficerBarry Ginley 

Address: Cromwell Rd SW7 2RL

Phone: +44 (0)20 7942 2000

16 August, 2011 

(7th Interview)

Disability & Access Scheme

  • Take in the needs and views of disabled people
  • Continually measure, monitor and imagine services
  • Build a positive and disability confident culture
  • Learn what works well on disability equality    


Disability & Access Offers

  • Access help for people with disabilities who are visiting the UK
  • Facilities for people with hearing impairment and programs for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Facilities for people with physical impairments
  • Facilities for people with learning disabilities
  • V&A Exhibits free for people with disabilities (Free entry for up to 2 additional people)



Visual Impairment


"For up to an hour, guides give descriptions of all galleries, including the Touch Gallery. The main focus is to make tours for walk-ins very inclusive and approachable! With our Touch Tours, we create 3D replicas to allow visitors for visual impairments, a chance to go along with the gallery." 


"For emergency prevention, the V&A offers vibrating and talking GPS pagers to all disabled visitors. This helps to  better keep everyone informed.

We also teach parts of our staff and liaisons introductory British Sign Language (BSL). The V&A found that despite language barriers, BSL across the board also helps non-native speakers."

Hearing Impairment




"Just simply ask for the special cutlery in the cafeteria! Their bulkier with larger handles depending on the individual needs. Made by the Center For The Disabled."

Physical Disabilities


Learning Disabilities



"With the Scanning Pens, you roll the tip across the printed text to enable its audio feature. It will read whatever you run it across! Very useful for those with dyslexia and other written comprehension concerns."



Positive About Disabled People Award  - For creating greater awareness within the disabled community


Per Our Conversation…

What are some of the different services offered at the V&A?

The V&A always looks at the user first. For example, since braille is not commonly known among all blind individuals, utilizing just braille can still leave out a number of people. We found that by providing voice recorded work through MP3’s and Apps, we were able to reach so many more people! In addition, we have between 150-200 objects in the Touch Gallery collection and monthly talk projects for the disabled.

Deaf and blind workers also routinely perform gallery talks. In fact, the V&A was the first museum to employ a deaf curator and has the same number of disabled workers as the Royal National Institute For Blind People (RNIB) and Scope.


How did the V&A receive the Positive About Disabled People Award?

We earned the award through the work we have done with the disabled community and for our inclusive staff and facilities!

National and International organizations look towards the V&A as a positive example for its successful inclusion driven programs and accessible facilities. 


Do you think there are any devices that are missing from the blind community?

Eternal orientation systems (GPS)! It would be great if there was an interactive app that could track the course you select when in a museum. Something that had  audio outputs that relayed not only proper information, but alerted the user about upcoming objects within their walking path.


In general, do you think anything is missing from the disabled community?

Never underestimate the power of pop culture effects on society. Look at La Forge from Star Trek. His charter has been a cultural icon for the blind. His visor and its design is beyond recognizable! They showed that being disabled does not mean the end of life or function.

Really, all products should be inclusive and more usable. Beauty should be taken into account for medical devices.


Words Of Wisdom!

“There is both a loose definition and strong prejudice about the word “disabled.” To simply put it, a change in terminology means a change in disability; fixing stereotypes across the board breaks myths.

This is important because designers simply get scared about the possibility of designing for the disabled. There are 43 million disabled in the US - 11 million in the UK. We are not a minority.”