Sensory Backpacks for the Visually Impaired – a case study from the V&A with Abigail Hirsch

 

Launched in August 2015, the Curious Ceramics backpack is the V&A’s first backpack aimed at children with visual impairments. The V&A offer a number of backpacks for families, but for this special sensory version they worked in close collaboration with Sense, the national deafblind charity, and Abigail Hirsch an artist and an educator with experience and expertise in multisensory art engagement.

I first met Abigail at the Royal Academy – Why and How Conference back in 2015, her interactive gallery session on Rubens was a standout memory of the day. In February 2016 she invited me to visit the V&A with her to talk through the backpack, it was her first visit to see the final version actually in use in the gallery and we spent over an hour having fun with it.

Abigail told me the first challenge was finding an object to begin the journey with. The V&A had chosen the Ceramics Gallery for the backpack and it was important to tell the story of the gallery, not just of an individual object displayed in it. The Ceramics Gallery worked well as it was fairly quiet space that was not too crowded so that families felt comfortable and had room to work with the backpack.

To read the full blog please visit including top tips please visit the link below on the Disability Cooperative Network for Museums –

https://www.musedcn.org.uk/2016/07/26/sensory-backpacks-at-the-va-with-abigail-hirsch-claire-madge-va/

For more on the Curious Ceramics backpack please visit the SENSE website

https://www.sense.org.uk/content/sense-works-va-launch-sensory-backpack-children-sight-impairments

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