14 Sep 2015 Exhibition podcast: Mark Stone, SAFE/RNIB volunteer
In the final podcast to accompany our exhibition, Mark Stone of Swansea Access for Everyone (SAFE) and volunteer for RNIB Swansea, reviews our exhibition and talks about access to museums and exhibitions for blind and visually impaired people.
Mike Mantin (MM): Welcome to the Disability and Industrial Society podcast. We've been walking around the exhibition and we're getting some thoughts from Mark Stone. Mark, if you'd like to introduce yourself...
Mark Stone (MS): I'm Mark Stone, I'm a volunteer for RNIB (Royal National Institute for the Blind), I do work for Swansea Access for Everybody.
MM: Thanks for coming to the museum, Mark. So do you have an interest in history yourself?
MS: Yes I do. Mostly IT.
MM: Ah, OK. And you were telling me earlier that your family has some industrial history.
MS: Yes I do. My father helped the disaster at Aberfan to clear some of the coal tips after the disaster.
MM: In the days shortly afterwards then? Wow. So where does your family come from?
MS: From Swansea. My father was working for the parks department at the time. He sent his staff up to help.
MM: Wow. So what are your thoughts on the exhibition?
MS: Some of the stuff is still going on today.
MM: How so?
MS: The discrimination against disabilities.
MM: And do you think the same was happening to disabled workers or did they get it a little bit better?
MS: I don't know really, I can't really say. I think it's sort of the same.
MM: Yeah. Do you think it's exploitative that the coal-owners were sending disabled miners back to work like we saw in the video?
MS: They should really have had more time to recover.
MM: In places like rehabilitation centres? Better hospital care?
MS: Yeah. Better hospital care. But it helped when the National Health [Service] came after 1948.
MM: That's where our story ends, it's a whole new story after that.
MS: It's not good for certain disabilities in the hospitals. I think the visually impaired are still being discriminated against.
MM: How so?
MS: Well we need a new hospital for the visually impaired.
MM: What do you think life was like for a disabled coalminer? One who just got injury? We've seen the friendly societies, compensation, government assistance could help them but what other challenges do you think they faced?
MS: Isolation, mental problems...
MM: Mental problems related to recovering from industry?
MS: Yeah. Mental health.
MM: So what we're going to do now is we're going to listen to some of the literary extracts that we have from the exhibition, we've got 4 extracts read out by actors and we're going to think about that. This extract is from Lewis Jones, and the novel's called Cwmardy from 1937. This is read by an actor, let's hear it
[Extract from Lewis Jones, Cwmardy]
MM: There we go. I heard you having a little snicker at the mention of the Home Secretary there. So what do you think that's trying to convey?
MS: The Home Secretary would never go down the pit. Same as David Cameron won't come to the National Health.
MM: It clearly gets at that idea that politicians don't know what's going on...
MS: Yeah, it's still going on today.
MM: With people's awareness of disability issues? It's quite emotive that one, isn't it, really gets at that disparity. We see that so much in our research. It's like there's one politics for the elites and one for the working people.
MS: Yeah. The Tories - one for the rich, one for the poor.
MM: How do you think museums can make their histories more accessible to visually-impaired people?
MS: A lot more audio description, like extracts from books and audio. Proper, well-trained visual guides to show you around, tactile markers, clear text for partially-sighted people, like font size 24.
MM: Yeah I think a lot of museums have a long way to go. And we do as well.