Touching stitches: embroidery access for the blind

Touching stitches: embroidery access for the blind

Hands on embroidery

National Lottery Grants for Heritage – £3,000 to £10,000

City Centre
City of Edinburgh
University of Edinburgh
This innovative project explored ways to enable blind and partially sighted people to access the Edinburgh College of Art’s historic textile collection, which spans over three centuries.

A partnership with the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) and Scottish Prison Service, this work culminated in the creation of an exhibition which showcased the collection in a much more accessible way than ever before. 

The embroidery collections were made available to prisoners at HMP Edinburgh and HMP Corton Vale through workshops.

Creating 3D prints
Creating 3D prints of the embroidery, Credit: Lindy Richardson


Participants created accurate textile replicas of the original embroideries to be used as tactile handling samples for everyone to experience the pieces through touch. These were complemented by 3D printed replicas of some pieces, also allowing for direct handling.

The RNIB supported the project with expert advice throughout as consultants contributing to the development of the tactile prototype. They also facilitated a tour of the exhibition which provided people with access in a supported environment.

Audio descriptions of individual pieces were created, enabling blind and visually impaired people to access the collection.