Major new disability history initiative wins support

Guild of the Brave Poor Things, Bristol
Screen South has received initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the Accentuate History of Place project.

Accentuate History of Place will chart disabled people’s lives from the middle ages until the late 20th century in relation to built heritage.

The Accentuate History of Place project will create a comprehensive picture of National Disability Heritage with the objective of elevating this history to greater prominence.

The project will be developed by Accentuate, which operates as a specialist arm within Screen South,which provides life-changing opportunities for disabled people in the cultural sector.

Highlighting historic sites of importance

Development funding of £77,600 has been awarded to help Accentuate progress their plans and once the project has been further developed Accentuate will be submitting a second-round application to secure the full grant amount of £875,900.

"We want to ensure that this relatively hidden history is known by the wider public.”

Esther Fox, Accentuate Programme Executive

The project aims to highlight historic sites of importance, from early provision for disabled people through to the first examples of purpose built architecture. There will be opportunities for local people across the country to take part in workshops exploring archive material relating to the sites.

There will also be a national touring exhibition and website to raise the profile of this relatively hidden history. Alongside this activity Accentuate will deliver training for heritage volunteers and staff in low cost solutions for making heritage sites and events more accessible to deaf and disabled visitors.

Disability in Time and Place

Accentuate has developed this project in partnership with English Heritage and will link to their newly established disability history website resource – Disability In Time and Place – which currently features over 200 sites of historic importance. 

Esther Fox, Accentuate Programme Executive, said: “We’re delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this support. Post the Paralympic Games, we are more aware of the history of disabled sports people, we have also seen projects which have supported disabled artists, but this is the first time that we can investigate the broad historic context of the lives of disabled people though building design and usage and understand that disabled people have been actively part of society from the Medieval times to the present day. We want to ensure that this relatively hidden history is known by the wider public.”

Stuart McLeod, Head of HLF South East, said: “This is a wonderfully imaginative and timely project. Involving large numbers of volunteers, it will tell the hidden history of disability in the UK relating to some of our most important heritage sites.”