UEL Research News

The latest research news and events from the University of East London

UEL sensory project shortlisted for award for helping people with learning disabilities explore history


A groundbreaking project to improve the way people with learning disabilities explore and engage with museums and artefacts has been shortlisted for a prestigious national award.

The University of East London and Reading University’s Sensory Objects project is one of only two to be shortlisted for the Art, Design & Culture award, in the national Engage Competition run by the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE), out of more than 230 entries.

Researchers on the project, led by Art & Systems Engineering staff at the University of Reading and delivered in collaboration with UEL’s Rix Research Centre, actively listen to, and involve, people with learning disabilities to explore how different senses can be used to enhance existing artefacts or create entirely new ones in museums’ collections.

This project has created multisensory interactive artworks that respond to equivalent objects in museums. People with learning disabilities are working on the project as co-researchers alongside the project’s interdisciplinary research team. The Rix Research Centre’s Multimedia Advocacy tools are used to reflect on, and to communicate, the co-researchers experiences and findings.

UEL’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Joughin said: “Being shortlisted for the NCCPE award is a remarkable achievement given that over 230 entries were received. The work UEL researchers are doing, helping people with learning disabilities, to connect and engage is just the type of impactful work which needs to be carried out to help society. We’re delighted this work has been shortlisted for a prize.”

UEL’s Rix Centre, Reading College Learners with Learning Difficulties and University of Reading researchers, will present their research into interactive sensory objects at the Museum of English Rural Life, Reading, on Monday 9 June.

People will be able to hear and activate sensory buckets, listening for a ‘hole in one’; touch an interactive pig’s nose, then stroke a mooing boot; smell herbs and flowers growing in baskets and boots; taste some specially made smoothies and see an LED light up as people try litteBits, circuit-boards engineered to snap together with magnets.

The winners will be announced at the national Engage Competition Awards ceremony on 11 June 2014 at the Natural History Museum.

The competition forms part of Universities Week, from 9 to 15 June, that UEL is supporting, which aims to increase public awareness of the wide and varied role of the UK’s universities.

UEL is committed to this year’s theme which explores how university research impacts on everyone’s lives and addresses challenges the public want solved.

During Universities Week, which has been running since 2010, UEL will bring its research to its local communities and the general public, so they can understand the importance of university research on everyday life.

UEL’s Universities Week website www.uel.ac.uk/universitiesweek, will feature events and its latest groundbreaking research and the impact it has on all of us.

The university is inviting everyone to discover, get involved and be inspired by the work it is doing to improve the way we live our lives.


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