The Norfolk & Norwich Association for The Blind
Historic house brought to life for blind and partially sighted
The National Trust has teamed-up with the Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Blind to create a new audio tour for Oxburgh Hall, bringing the medieval manor house fully to life for the visually impaired.
The new tour gives blind and partially-sighted visitors the chance to independently explore and enjoy the moated hall and its gardens.
Highly descriptive recordings have been made to help capture the size, colour and unique atmosphere of each room in the house. Users can then access more detailed information as they wish, such as in-depth details on the room’s main objects of interest, or pause the tour and talk to one of the room guides.
There is also a garden tour where the kitchen garden, orchard, key features of the grounds and the chapel are all described with excerpts from past head gardeners.
The National Trust’s Elizabeth Cooper, house manager at Oxburgh Hall, said: “I’m delighted that we can now offer blind and partially-sighted people the chance to really experience Oxburgh Hall to the full. When we walk into a room or through the gardens, we see so much in colour, texture and richness. This audio tour brings alive those features and gives a starting point to discover and learn more about this wonderful place. It will be great to welcome visitors with sight loss, of all ages, to try the audio tour and experience the magnificence of Oxburgh.
“The NNAB’s input has been absolutely invaluable in making sure that we created something that would be useful, relevant and enjoyable to visually impaired people and the National Trust is very grateful for their help.”
The NNAB advised the National Trust and manufacturers Audio Guide Productions Ltd on the creation of the new audio tour, which will be offered in addition to the ‘touch tours’ already available at the hall.
The tour uses the hand-held Victor Stream MP3 player, a device already widely used by the visually impaired. This means visitors can, if they prefer, bring their own equipment and simply insert a SD memory card containing the audio tour files. It is hoped that in future the tour will also be available to download in advance from the Oxburgh Hall website.
Mark Smith, the NNAB's leisure co-ordinator, said: "This audio tour truly brings alive the splendour and historical significance of Oxburgh Hall for people with sight loss. There's a lot of tactile pleasure to be had anyway from visiting, but the guide simply lifts that to a new dimension and enhances the visitor experience.
"It explains about the paintings and furnishings, and essentially levels the playing field for blind people because they are not dependent on sighted people to help them discover the colour and character of one of Norfolk's finest medieval halls.
"We are sincerely grateful to the National Trust for making this project a reality."
The Oxburgh Hall website can be found at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/oxburgh-hall