Tate Modern Gallery Workshop

Edward Richards, BSL tour guide
Held as part of the Inclusive Heritage conference 2015, this workshop involved a tour of Tate Modern, led by two deaf British Sign Language (BSL) tour guides.

This workshop showed how accessible information can be provided in museums and galleries. Tate Modern Curator Marcus Dickey Horley introduced the BSL-led programmes at the gallery. He discussed the benefits of running an Access Advisory Group at Tate, and gave an overview of other access projects that Tate run, including Touch Tours and Audio Description Tours.

“It gave me a real understanding of how deaf BSL tours can be supported and led in a gallery or museum”Workshop participant

Tour 1: Chisato Minamimura, BSL guide

Chisato explained how she connects her own practice and knowledge of the arts with her tours. Having trained as a dancer and choreographer, she uses an expressive form of communicating with deaf and non-deaf audiences and draws on the content of her tours to create new dance pieces. Chisato gave an animated and engaging description of two artworks in the gallery - asking questions and giving time to everyone to contribute to the discussion with the support of a translator.

Tour 2: Edward Richards, BSL guide

“It made me think about spatial awareness, what it must be like to be deaf in a busy public environment” Workshop participant

Edward described how as a child he was very engaged with art but had never had full access to the information. However he later decided to take on formal art training. In 2002 he saw a Tate advert looking for deaf people to become BSL gallery guides and he applied. He talked about how positive the programme was for him: he is now able to engage deaf audiences with culture, and is constantly learning about new collections himself. He believes the work “brings deaf people back to the arts” and is proud that he is involved in training other deaf BSL guides to widen the Tate programme.

Read the full workshop summary written by Poppy Szaybo, Arts, Heritage and Museums Consultant below.

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