Turbo Charged kicks off

Creative Xpressions’ group of artists exhibition 10am-6pm daily 8th to 17th April at the Turbine House. A fascinating mix of styles and medium – glass, light, textile, drawing and paint. Here’s Lorna using this flexible space as a studio with a work inspired by the turbine itself.

Happy Christmas

The tricycle is back in Jackson’s all lit up for #LightUpRDG thanks to MiketheBee of RLab and the Reading Bicycle Kitchen. Click the picture to have a go at Tricycle Crush. Three in a row to hear Santa on his way.


Can’t see your tile? Or left your tile behind with us? Whoops! Contact us to let us know.

Reading and its Rivers visitors’ book

A visitor tweeted:

…my first visit today. A hidden gem in a hidden corner – will be back!

809 people visited our Reading and its Rivers exhibition in the Turbine House and the Family Trail around Blake’s Lock during Heritage Open Days September 2016. Here are the quotes from the visitors’ book.

Visited on a lovely sunny day – most interesting and enjoyable
Very interesting exhibition
Well laid out. Friendly volunteers. Great views of heron too.
Very good
Great venue. Superb exhibition.
It’s the variety of response that appeals most good work
Amazing so much history
Lovely range of talent.Beautiful location.
Really interesting visit
Nice to see it again
A surprise in an ordinary day thank you
History revisited
Very inspiring range of fab work in marvelous location
Another triumph for Reading
Love it. Familiar scenes and magical interpretations. Always love the work of Carol Stephens Jenny and Rukshi thank you.
Enjoyed the exhibition very much
Lovely to look and learn more about our town
Lovely exhibition in a beautiful venue
Great selection in fabulous venue
Fab venue for some great artwork
Brilliant result from the artists and hanging committee -chapeau
Great to see the building being used and such interesting works. Really enjoyable
Lovely show why only 3/4 days long
Fab great exhibition
Can’t wait to see more – what a find!
So much variety thank you
Perfect venue for this exhibition. Lovely work
Very impressed
Wonderful images set in amazing place
Interesting exhibition and venue thank you
Really enjoyed finding out about a very historic part of Reading
Fabulous thank you
Lovely thank you (the heron and the kingfisher were an added bonus)
Great Reading show in a brilliant exhibition space
creative stuff by many names that we recognise thank you
What a find. I’ll be back thank you
beautiful and inspiring lovely exhibition in great venue thank you
Really interesting range of art
Many thanks everyone X
So great to see this wondrous space full of art work celebrating the area and representing so many artists in Reading
Lovely artistic work. Good trail to keep the kids occupied
Interesting and scenic view of the lock
Incredible building. Very interesting themed art collection. Wish I could afford!


Tricycle in Jacksons!

Our Information Tricycle is in the window of this iconic Reading building thanks to Reading Bicycle Kitchen. Here it’s emblazoned with Reading Fringe Festival (20-24 July 2016) info.

Meadow madness

Lots of fun at Forbury Gardens start of Children’s Festival. Here’s the BFG who has just caught our new Lion.

Beat the Street with the Tricycle

A family using the Beat the Street box outside Bowery District

Earn bonus points with Beat the Street if you find the tricycle with the beat box. Here’s the first family that did it – at The Bowery District during the Are You Listening Festival.

GPS around Reading

We are experimenting with The Things Network Reading on putting the information tricycle onto the ‘Internet of Things’. You may see us with a plastic box on the back of the tricycle – this is testing out sending the tricycle’s position to the network, and from that to our map. Click the map to get the most recent info.

Tricycle & Sumer is icumen in

The tricycle as music stand and rain cover at the Exercise Book, Palmer Park, 30th January 2016. A snippet of the work by Professor Martin Harry, Oxford University, some of it based on the first ‘pop’ (i.e. not ecclesiastical) written work – composed by the monks of Reading Abbey – a great Reading space! – around 1250. 100 runners did a 5K around the Park to tracks from the work – downloaded to their smartphones and played by a live wind band in the stadium. Wind was a bit of a problem – hence the human health and safety device anchored to the tricycle’s umbrella. Remember, you heard this use of a tricycle here first. Should we aim for 101 uses of a tricycle?

Hear a snippet of the piece – trumpet soloist with an echoing trumpet in the stands. Don’t forget to turn your sound on!

Information Tricycle

Inspired by Warricks of Caversham Road Tea Tricycle, now in Reading Museum, we’ll be bringing our ‘Information Tricycle’ to events and public spaces throughout 2016 in support of Reading’s Year of Culture. This will display information about what’s on in a fun, friendly and flexible way as the year progresses.

The tricycle can be used as a ‘traditional’ delivery box, or extended to form a showcase for event information.

Tricycle outside St Barts Theatre

Tricycle and Mayor

More info

Reading’s very own Tea Tricycle

Inspired by Warricks of Caversham Road Tea Tricycle, now in Reading Museum, we’ll be bringing our ‘Information Tricycle’ to events and public spaces throughout 2016 in support of Reading’s Year of Culture. This will display information about what’s on in a fun, friendly and flexible way as the year progresses. Contact the tricycle if you’d like it to be at your event. It’s free! 

Reading in top 16% of UK Heritage Index

The RSA (Royal Society for the Arts, Manufacture and Commerce) has published a heritage index map. The index and interactive maps are a resource to help people better understand their local heritage. They are part of a broader RSA project on Heritage, Place and Identity that aims to use heritage in order to achieve a place’s social and economic aspirations.

We in Reading should be chuffed that our ‘much maligned town’ is actually in the top 16% overall AND in the top 2% for Museums, Archives and Artefacts and in the top 8% for the Historic Built Environment.

You can see more at:


Highest ever Splat Medusa score

Our tent at the Festival was buzzing with visitors – and one scored a straight 100 on Splat Medusa, a record. We also had dozens of Ure Museum mugs painted, lots of interest in the East Reading Connections stand, the London Road Heritage Trail, Ladybird Book and Artist in the Harris Garden mini-apps. Thanks to the Festival organisers for a good day. You can play splat.imuse.org.uk from the comfort of your own iPad (or even PC) if you’d like some practice.

Play Splat Medusa at East Reading Festival

Perseus & Medsa

Visit iMuse in the RG spaces tent at East Reading Festival Sunday 14 June Palmer Park to play Splat Medusa on our iPads. Fun for all (warning – children are normally faster than adults!). Highest scores of the day win prizes. All entries put into a draw for extra prizes too. Art work by Addington School, Woodley, as part of the Ure Discovery project, 2012-13.

iMuse & iOpener move to RG spaces

The iMuse and iOpener programmes run by the charity Access-Ability Communications Technology (AACT) are moving to RG spaces in Summer 2015. iMuse works with museums and galleries locally to seek lowcost ways of using mobile phones and tablets to make visits more fun and accessible for everyone. iOpener is experimenting with making online trails and encouraging people to make their own around Reading.

iOpener at #OpenForArt

iopener poster at openforart

iOpener is taking part alongside our sister project, iMuse, in the 4-6 July 2014 OpenForArt pop-up artist exhibition and events.

We’ll be trialling making a trail around 5 iconic Reading landmarks using our mobile phones and tablets like iPads. Meet us in the Oracle, old Crabtree and Evelyn shop, HolyBrook entrance.

Ure Move Launch 14 June 2014

Ure Move Launch poster

It is with great pleasure that the curators and student panel of the Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology invite you to attend the Grand Opening of Ure Move, an exciting project and exhibition we have developed with the charity Access-Ability Communication Technology (AACT) as part of Universities Week 2014.

We take this opportunity to celebrate the invaluable work of our University students and the pupils of 3 local schools (Addington School, Kendrick School and Maiden Erlegh School) who together created this original exhibition. The Grand Opening will include a private preview of the exhibition, which shows the Ure collection through new eyes. Guests will also have the opportunity to look around the collection, play with the interactive iPad application or have a go at making their own short stop motion animations. Activities should enthuse people of all ages and abilities.

Saturday 14th June starting at 4.30 pm.

Please RSVP at ure.education@reading.ac.uk.

Another artist’s text-free mini-app planned

Jenny Halstead

iMuse is working with artist, Jenny Halstead, to produce a low-cost mini-app for an in-exhibition iPad.

Jenny recently spent a year as Artist in Residence in the Harris Garden at the University of Reading, painting and drawing as the seasons changed. Her exhibition in the Museum of English Rural Life, Reading, runs from 24 May to 30 June 2013.

Jenny has recorded her thoughts on each painting. Visitors will be able to see each painting both for real and on our iPad, where they can blow it up to look at detail down to the brushstroke, and tap to hear Jenny describing her reactions to each scene and her painting methods.

AACT’s special interest is in showing how such relatively simply implemented techniques can enhance an exhibition for everyone, particularly by communicating its meaning to those with sight impairment or who find reading text on labels difficult.

Though the iPad will be tethered on a cord for security, visitors will be able to pick it up to share what they find with companions, and it is hoped that this will further encourage communication between them.

Launch date for Ure Discovery exhibition set!

pupils and animator learning about computer animation

The Ure Discovery Arts Council England Project, in which AACT/iMuse is a partner alongside 2 mainstream schools and one special school, will have its exhibition officially launched on 15th June.

All will be welcome to this family-centred event, with an Greek-pot activity in aid of AACT, talks by the animator, Steve Simons, and the pupils who created the exhibition. And of course, the iMuse iPad trail led by Sophie the Owl!

Accessible version of YouTube launched

This looks most interesting, especially given AACT/iMuse experience with young people in museums, where video ‘explanation’ of objects seems popular.

News Release [from JISC]
14 February 2013

Henshaws College and Jisc launch an accessible YouTube website

Henshaws College has launched an accessible version of YouTube, which was funded by Jisc through Jisc Advance. It allows people with learning difficulties and disabilities to use this mainstream technology independently.

ACCESS: YouTube simplifies the standard You Tube site making it easier to search and play videos, and allows the use of assistive technologies. It is now publicly available so everyone can benefit from this accessible method.

Mike Thrussell, assistive technology coordinator, explains the challenges facing many of his students when trying to use the standard YouTube website: “Students at Henshaws College have a range of needs from visual impairments to additional learning difficulties and disabilities. Our students love YouTube, but the standard site contains a lot of extra content such as adverts, comments and links which can be distracting. This makes the site difficult to navigate using assistive technologies such as screen-readers and as a result some students require support to use it.”

Mike has spent the last 18 months developing ACCESS: YouTube to try and overcome these issues, and allow students to use the site more independently: “I have used large fonts, visual cues and a logical layout to improve access using assistive technologies. By simplifying the site and removing content such as adverts and comments, the website is more accessible to screen readers.” For Henshaws students, this means they can independently control their leisure time without the need for support. Staff can also be confident that students will be kept safe as the site automatically filters out any inappropriate material.

Nigel Ecclesfield, programme manager at Jisc Advance says: “We are delighted to have provided the funding for the development of this wonderful tool that opens up the world of YouTube to those with visual difficulties. YouTube provides access to many exceptional educational resources and we are proud to be associated with a project that will make a real difference to the lives of many learners as they can now access these materials independently.

“For example, twenty one year old Billy is severely sight impaired and has cerebral palsy which affects his movement. He uses two large switches and scrolls through the simplified menu to navigate ACCESS: YouTube. Screen reader software then reads out each option for him so that he can select or search for videos he wants to listen to.”

Billy explains: “When I first started, I didn’t know how to use it, but now I can play videos without help. I have made my own playlists for my favourite videos including Take That and Kylie Minogue. I can use the site out of college sessions. It’s great to have the freedom to do this.”

Chris Surtees, from the North East Autism Society says: “ACCESS: YouTube is minimalistic, clean and allows a learner with additional support needs to increase their independence whilst accessing a form of media which appeals to them.”

Henshaws hopes the technology will have a positive impact even beyond the specialist education sector, as Mike explains: “ACCESS: YouTube is just the first in a whole suite of accessible websites which we are developing at Henshaws College thanks to funding from Jisc service – Jisc Advance. The launch of similar accessible websites later in the year will allow users of assistive technology to search for images online, to give honest independent evaluations using a feedback tool and to access personal email accounts. These sites have huge potential to make browsing the internet easier for a whole range of people.”

The developments come at an exciting time for Henshaws as they coincide with the college’s new Media and IT Centre which is due to open this spring. Facilities will include an IT suite, two recording studios and a print centre which will be fully accessible to students and local community groups. The building of this new facility was made possible by the generosity of Henshaws supporters. Henshaws thank the trusts, businesses, individuals and students who made this happen.

Henshaws welcome any comments or feedback on the ACCESS: YouTube website. mike.thrussell@henshaws.org.uk


Contact: Charlie Covington, press officer, Jisc, c.covington@jisc.ac.uk, 07841951296.

Notes to editors
Henshaws Society for Blind People (registered charity no. 221888) is a specialist charity providing expert support, advice and training to anyone affected by sight loss. We also work with people with other disabilities, and because sight loss and disability affects family, friends and colleagues, we work with them too.
Henshaws is one of the oldest charities in the UK, opening in Manchester in 1837. This year we Our services support children and babies, their families, young and older people by providing reassurance, practical support and in some cases simply companionship.
We work throughout the North of England, with centres and communities in Harrogate, Knaresborough, Manchester, Merseyside and Newcastle.
Henshaws College, our further education college in Harrogate, specialises in visual impairment and caters for students with disabilities aged between 16 and 25. The college enables every student to reach his or her maximum level of independence, gain vocational skills and supports the transition into adult life.
Each of our centres offers different services and programmes – but they all have a common goal: to enable the people who use our services to live an independent and fulfilling life.
Henshaws College, Bogs Lane, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG1 4ED
Tel: 01423 886451 www.henshaws.org.uk

Jisc is an independent education charity, owned by AoC, GuildHE and UUK. It provides UK higher education, further education and skills sectors support on the use of digital technologies. It provides advice and guidance through Jisc Advance and owns a subsidiary company, Jisc Collections and Janet Limited, which provides an academic telecommunications network infrastructure and content services for over 18 million users across the UK.

Jisc’s vision is to make the UK the most digitally advanced education and research nation in the world. Jisc’s mission is to enable the education sector in the UK to perform at the forefront of international practice by exploiting fully the possibilities of modern digital empowerment, content and connectivity.

Find out more at www.jisc.ac.uk or contact Charlie Covington of the Jisc press office on c.covington@jisc.ac.uk, 07841951296 or press@jisc.ac.uk.

Assistive technology is specialist equipment or software, including screen readers, switches or eye gaze systems, which allow people with disabilities to use computers and other devices which would otherwise be inaccessible to them.

Stanley Spencer Gallery goes live!

iMuse partner, the Stanley Spencer Gallery, Cookham, has gone live today with its first AACT iPad installed for visitor use.

Chrissy Rosentahl, volunteer and project lead in the Gallery, ruminates on the practicalities of using a shared iPad in real life.

We launched today in the Gallery …. Valentine’s Day! Much love…. I have spent more hours cutting up tennis balls, sticking Velcro to the floor, unsticking Velcro from the floor and scratching my head about security than I have spent sorting out content – but I suppose that’s the point of the exercise.

Working with iMuse has been great – because it has inpsired us and motivated us to use the iPads in the Gallery to deliver extra content. Now we have to see if we have delivered something our visitors actually want.

I have just been training today’s Custodian to unplug and wake up the iPad and to enable Guided Access. That has not been without its problems. For fingers unused to touch screen ‘click the Home Button three times’ is not as simple as it sounds…. Do you do it with a finger nail slowly, with the pad of the finger quickly…?? It depends…..

I have written instructions – which are probably more confusing than necessary as I have tried to cover all possible problems – so it’s back to the drawing board on that – I have left the Custodian in the Gallery with the feedback forms (simple) and their first visitor (a woman in her 70’s) – who immediately showed interest and picked it up….

More later…

British 10K Run 13 July 2014

jogger with laptop

Fancy a fantastic run with our small, friendly team through the best sites of London?


Can you raise £200?

Then the British 10K Run is for you!

  • T-shirt
  • Free entry to the Run

Contact us:

email info@aact.org.uk

or fill in the form below

We have stuff to help you raise the ££s

  • JustGiving
    Make your page with JustGiving
  • BT MyDonate
  • Giving by text message

and use Twitter, Facebook to get your friends giving

Here’s some runners from Steve Simon who we worked with on one of our iMuse/Ure Museum projects to get you inspired!

Thinking about a text free touchscreen interface

touch screen

iMuse is part of the Arts Council England World Stories project in the Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology.

Working with a student panel, 14-16 year-olds from three schools, Guja Bandini, the Museum’s education officer, and professional animator Steve Simons, iMuse is tasked with providing an iPad app. This will bring together  material the project produces, interpreting myths in a fun and engaging way based on an object within each display case.

The overall Project is about young people engaging with the objects in novel ways with iMuse having a particular interest in ensuring accessibility/inclusion are considered. Having an app is a means to an end, not a primary aim, so we’d agreed to use the mini web app previously tried in both the Museum of English Rural Life and the Ure. This was initially designed for use with QR codes on object labels, with a simple, layered interface using symbols and only a modicum of text. In the Ure, this could be used alongside a printed map.

While the interface did seem to provide a reasonably accessible way into finding out about objects (http://www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?articleid=17068126&ini=aob), several things have set us experimenting again.

  • a comment from a teacher-participant that text on the main pages could prove a barrier
  • the decision by the Panel that Sophie the owl should act as guide in some way
  • the difficulty of interpreting a map
  • observing that visitors will experiment with a touchscreen without much instruction (e.g. the Ladybird book in the MERL)
  • the open invitation to create what materials you like about an object/myth (i.e. unknown numbers/types will arrive)

So, we’ve stepped away from mimicking the old ways (buttons looking like you are controlling something like a cassette recorder). Instead we are experimenting with an interface which has no written text initially, but has photos of the actual display cases to help orientation. Sophie as the cursor/guide, following the visitor’s finger, flies past these, settling on an object when requested. The visitor decides which bits of info they want to look at and can easily ‘fly back/forward’ to other cabinets.


It’s not sensible to decide the exact interface until we know what material is going to be provided, but already we have some good ideas coming in about highlighting objects, having audio/visual ‘pop-up instructions, and ensuring any text-based items have audio versions, and any visual items have audio descriptions.

There’s masses to think about here, with potential for more use of the media such as signing or captions on video.

There are also practical considerations, not least iMuse’s very limited technical coding ability and our requirement that this remains a web-type rather than native app. The good thing is there is time for us all to discuss the possibilities and to do some trialling before the launch in early Summer.

All comments about the interface welcome.