Museum of the Order of St John – their BSL video with John Wilson.

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Welcoming D/deaf visitors at the Museum of the Order of St John – Advice for other museums and galleries!

Ensuring that the Museum Galleries, our spectacular historic interiors and public programme are as accessible and inclusive as possible, starts with the pre-visit information available online.  Consequently, we were very keen to create an introductory BSL film for the  Access page of our website to help us better welcome D/deaf visitors to the Museum.  ( )

When considering the film and its content, we were very lucky as we already work with John Wilson, a well-known historian and tour guide, as well as D/deaf St John Ambulance volunteers who are generous with their time, support and feedback to help ensure that the Museum is as welcoming and accessible as possible. They were able to share with us their experiences of visiting the Museum from difficulties finding us amongst Clerkenwell’s many small streets, to confusion around our entrance which can be hard to spot beneath the Tudor archway. Originally, our storyboard (or plan) for the film was much longer and included more historical information, however, we were advised to reduce this and focus much more on what you could see and do. John was also very keen to ensure that the film had lots of movement and it wasn’t just him signing to the camera.  

The film itself cost around £2000 to produce plus staff and volunteer time although, if you had equipment and experience in-house, this cost would be much lower. Our budget included support to develop the storyboard, a day’s filming and all the editing and production from ACAP Media who are experienced at creating accessible content within museums and galleries. To keep costs as low as possible, we were able to re-purpose and animate things such as the map on the back of our ‘What’s On’ guide to help with wayfinding as well as using some footage that ACAP Media had shot previously for other projects. Creating the film was pretty straightforward, although the filming itself took slightly longer than expected as some of the spaces we wanted to capture, for instance the various flights of stairs included on the tour routes, were quite awkward to film. When planning, we hadn’t considered that each time we repositioned John (so that the lighting was better, or he had more space for movement, etc.), this would have an impact on the reference points that John would be able to refer to in his signing, and therefore the wider script

The feedback we have received about the film has been unanimously positive and we have been told by many visitors, not just those from the D/deaf community, that it was a useful resource when planning their visit.  


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