11th European e-Accessibility Forum
e-Accessible Culture

19/06/2017, 9am-6pm
Cité des sciences et de l'industrie, Paris

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Increasing opportunities to experience and enjoy art and heritage through digital technologies

Matthew COCK
Vocal Eyes

Speaker's information

Matthew Cock

Matthew Cock is a graduate in Art History (Edinburgh) and Fine Art (Glasgow School of Art). He joined VocalEyes in 2015, having worked for many years at the British Museum, as an editor, digital content manager and then head of the web team, responsible for the museum’s websites and digital projects, including gallery and mobile technology projects. Prior to that he worked at the Victoria and Albert Museum as a curatorial assistant, working on documentation, gallery and other projects across many of the curatorial departments. Since 2008, Matthew has been a Trustee of the Jodi Mattes Trust, that champions accessibility of digital culture in the museums, libraries and archive sectors through the biennial Jodi Awards.



VocalEyes is an access organisation working to increase opportunities for blind and partially sighted people to experience and enjoy the arts and cultural heritage in the UK. Vocal Eyes believes passionately that descriptive language and guided touch can bring art to life just as powerfully as visual observation. And that blind and partially sighted people can get as much meaning, pleasure and epiphany from the live experience of being in front of art as a sighted person.

Each year with a network of audio describers, consultants and trainers, Vocal Eyes delivers:

Descriptions are delivered on a variety of hardware, from traditional devices with physical keypads to smartphones with specially designed apps with text-to-speech software. Venues are encouraged to make audio description content available to stream or download, so people can use their own device and take control of their listening.

In 2016, Vocal Eyes launched a campaign for museums to provide access information online on the premise that providing more access information online is likely to increase attendance for otherwise excluded audiences. As part of this, an audit of the access information provided on 1,700 UK museum websites was conducted. It was found that only 30% of UK museums provide any access information online for blind and partially sighted visitors. In addition to a report, Vocal Eyes published guidelines for museums to create or improve their website access information, and create accessible text, images, video, email and social media marketing.

With the large amounts of money being spent on digitisation and putting collections online, there is far more work to do in image description, and also ensuring that video and other visual-centric media, such as virtual reality (VR) are made accessible. There is a need for more widely available guidelines for the description of art and cultural heritage artefacts and environments, whether delivered live, recorded audio, or provided as text.

Some things that might be considered when devising such guidelines, based on Visual Eyes’ experience of audio description:

Watch Matthew Cock's presentation on YouTube. For subtitles, please use the CC button, and if you require a transcript do not hesitate to contact us at contact[at]


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