For my meeting with Paul Sullivan, with whom my friend Steph put me in touch with as Paul is part of the Bristol Braillist group, I wanted to come prepared – hence why I researched him a little bit. It is always important to know who I will be talking to!
Funny enough I realised that I actually already came across him in second year for my Media Culture module as I was interested in the Bristol Museum and the way they display things and how it would be for blind people to go to the museum, as most things are “preserved” in glass cases and you are not allowed to touch anything.
I found out that Bristol museum is using a device called the “Discovery Pen” to make a visit to the museum also interesting for blind people. It is basically an audio device, which is loaded with the information when touching the information panel of the object. And Paul is the one who launched this device as he is in charge of “access and inclusion” (of disabled people) at the Bristol museum. The audio doesn’t only include background information but it actually also describes what the visually impaired person is looking at, so they can get a better understanding – this is called “inclusive text”, assuming you can’t see what’s in front of you.
This is Paul trying out the Discovery Pen at the French Collection
I also found that he is an avid blogger and scrolling through his blog I found a lot of other interesting information regarding disabilities, projects, exhibitions etc. This is his blog: http://www.pauldsullivan.com
He writes about new things he is trying out that are created for visually impaired people like the KNFB reader for example, an app that scans text and reads it out loud for you, and critically reflects them – why they’re useful and what is it that they are lacking (inclusive text) or can’t replace (reading and writing for yourself).
For the meeting I want to find out more about his work at the museum, especially the concept of the inclusive text and ways in which disabled people are gaining access, but also about his blindness, his personal story and how he lives with it, what the differences are and how he perceives the world around him.
As I don’t have a clear idea yet what exactly my project will be focusing on, I just want to be open and listen to the things he tells me as I feel that is a good way into gaining a better understanding and learning about things that I didn’t know much about before. That is why I set up this meeting, because even though I can read on the internet about blindness it is never the same than actually sitting down with someone who experiences it first hand. I hope it will help me to broaden my horizon and revise my approach.