Access For All Learning Cohort 2023-24

Training and Development Programme: MDY Learning Cohorts 2023-24

We are now welcoming Expressions of Interest for the 2023-24 learning cohorts.

MDY learning cohorts bring together groups of museums with a shared development interest to learn through training, mentoring and networking, sometimes supported with a small grant for implementing new practices.

Access for All

Join museums across the region in a mentoring and development programme focusing on improving services for your disabled visitors.  Museum Development Yorkshire is delighted to launch this practical and accessible programme, specifically for non-specialists.  Our Access for All Cohort is a small group (8-10 museums) intensive programme featuring training, peer to peer support, mentoring and the potential of a site visit from an industry expert.  Everything will be delivered at a steady pace to ensure the maximum amount of group participation – we’re all learning together.

The programme is a mixture of in-person and online sessions.

The 2023-24 programme will cover:

  • Access for All Workshop
  • Heritage Access Training by VocalEyes –  increasing understanding of inclusivity and accessibility when creating online access information and digital content.
  • Welcoming Families with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities
  • Developing SEND Resources
  • Autism Awareness Training

Who should apply?

  • Non-specialists who want to improve the museum experience for disabled visitors
  • Museums without a dedicated Access officer
  • Museums with restricted budgets/ limited opportunity for investment for improvements
  • Organisations that would benefit from a rethink and refresh
  • Multi-site providers can apply, but the participants must represent one site
  • Museums can send up to 2 people, who must be able to commit to attending all the training

How will you be involved? 

  • Mixture of online and face to face meetings – at a steady pace
  • Everyone will audit their site to highlight good practice and areas for development
  • Non-NPOs can apply for a mentor, who will work with the museum to identify an area for development
  • Online peer to peer support
  • All participants will be expected to start change – e.g., front of house training, new gallery resource, better facilities for disabled visitors, improved information on site or online
  • MDY will highlight funding opportunities to support future development

What will we focus on? 

Through training, mentoring, individual reflection and group discussion we will focus on:

  • Understanding the diversity of need
  • How to consult with disabled people
  • Motivations for visiting
  • Facilities for visitors – onsite, website and social media
  • How to audit/benchmark
  • Developing your offer
  • How to promote your offer.

Workshop 1, Access for All, Wednesday 17 May, 10am-4pm, Experience Barnsley

This first workshop, led by AccessibleUK, is designed to improve your confidence, skills and knowledge in welcoming disabled people to your museum. By the end of the workshop, you will have:

  • A greater understanding of accessibility in the U.K.
  • An appreciation of the Equality Act and its implications for you
  • A greater understanding of the barriers faced by disabled people
  • Experienced some of these barriers for yourself
  • Learned practical tips as to how these may be overcome
  • Visited Experience Barnsley and discovered why they are the Kids in Museums Family Friendly Award – Best Accessible Museum, 2022

Workshop 2, Heritage Access Training by VocalEyes, Session 1, 25 May (online 10-11.30am), Session 2, 5 July (online 10-11.30am)

This training will support attendees in developing their understanding of inclusivity and accessibility when creating online access information and digital content.  Using a framework developed in response to the findings of Heritage Access 2022, the course will be delivered by two trainers – a VocalEyes staff-member with digital accessibility expertise, and a visual awareness trainer who will demonstrate screen-reader software. Each site will be presented with a short, personalised report, put together by the trainers and project volunteers, complete with suggestions of improvements.

Over the course duration, participants will attend 2 sessions of 1.5 hours each which will bookend the programme. After an introductory session looking at inclusive principles and best practice examples of access information, participants will receive their personalised report. They will have 5-6 weeks to devise an Action Plan focused on implementing these improvements.

During this period participants will have the option of attending additional support sessions hosted by VocalEyes staff, Heritage Access project partners, and Heritage Access volunteers. They will also be given access to an exclusive online support space.

In the final session of the programme, participants will discuss their Action Plan with the group, and receive feedback and support from the VocalEyes training team.

Workshop 3, Welcoming Families with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, Monday 12 June (online 10am-12.30pm)

Do you want to make your museum more welcoming to families with additional needs, but need some guidance about how to do this?  This session will be led by Sam Bowen.  Sam is the creator of SEND in Museums website and in 2021 was awarded the Radical Changemaker Award from the Museums Association.  During this virtual training event, we will:

  • Understand the barriers special needs families face when visiting museums
  • Explore examples of best practice in museums for welcoming families with additional needs
  • Share top tips for how to start and embed work in your organisation.

Workshop 4, Developing SEND Resources, Monday 11 September (online 10am-12.30pm)

Sam Bowen returns for an interactive session on how to develop resources for disabled visitors.  There will be discussion about visual stories, sensory maps, self-led activities, tactile resources and back packs.

Workshop 5, Autism Awareness Training, Wednesday 18 October (online 10am-12noon)

This online session is led by Emily Elsworth, who has lived experience of autism. Emily has worked in museums, developing events and facilities for autistic visitors and now provides mentoring. This training will cover:

  • What Autism Is
  • Myths and Misconceptions
  • Barriers faced by autistic visitors
  • Suggested ways to break down those barriers

Workshop 6, Sharing Good Practice, November 2023 (venue and date tbc)

Our final session will look at developing a seasonal offer for visitors and there will also be an opportunity to share our learning!

For further information about the consultants, please visit their websites:



Sam Bowen

Emily Elsworth

If you have any further questions, please contact Liz Denton,

The deadline for submitting your expression of interest in the Access For All Cohort is 24 April 2023.

Expressions of Interest for Learning Cohorts 2023-24

Please note final confirmation of all cohorts will depend on demand from museums.