Communication and Expression

View of a desktop display case with bright pink graphic board in a museum full of tightly packed display cases full of objects

Communication and Expression

Nothing Without Us: Experiences of Disability Trail at the Pitt Rivers Museum

Writing and Communication Display, Case 107A, Ground Floor


In recent history, writing and literacy have been constructed as the most crucial form of expression. How can experiences of disability demonstrate diverse forms of communication? And how do they help us reflect on whose experiences we choose to give value to?



A detailed image of a hare's head facing to the right, made from lots of small stitches.

Embroidered Linen, United Kingdom. Loaned to the Pitt Rivers Museum in 2023.


To the left-hand side of this case are examples of tallies – information recorded in notches or knots. These are made with the kind of manual and repetitive process that I use to calm myself.

I made this embroidered hare to represent both the calming effect of tactile work and the distress I experience without access to a timekeeping device. Roman numerals suggesting a clock face are only just perceptible in the hare’s eye. Autistic people often rely on routine to maintain a sense of control in a world that can otherwise be sensorially overwhelming. Embroidery, wirework and other tactile activities are a fantastic help when I am trying to decompress after dealing with overstimulating environments.

Hannah H., Museum Enjoyer

 Social Justice, Not Charity


A thin metal point protruding from the narrow end of a conical, organically shaped handle, forming a small stylus

Metal and plastic. Italy. Made before 1918. Donated to the Pitt Rivers Museum in 1918. PRM 1918.25.64


Developed in the early 19th century by the partially-blind French educator Louis Braille, braille-writing – six dots formed in a 3 x 2 matrix with sixty-four different combinations – spread worldwide as a means of educating blind and visually impaired children. By the next century, with many people made blind through the hazardous effects of industrialisation and the First World War, multiple grass-roots movements formed by and for the partially sighted and the blind utilised braille in their outreach material. The UK’s National Institute for the Blind (modern-day RNIB) published at least fourteen magazines and many more periodicals in the 1920s, many of which featured calls for social and economic reform.

Kyle J., a Believer in Change


A landscape booklet of crinkly yellowed paper and worn edges, punctured with braille holes, with the title 'NUGGETS' printed as a central title.

Embossed Paper bound as a book, United Kingdom (published in 1921). Transferred to the Pitt Rivers Museum in 1994.



 The Weight of all my Traumas

Rounded tablet of stone, inscribed with a pictorial language, with a section missing in the top right.

Scarab with carved description and hieroglyphic inscription. Stone. Ancient Egypt (New Kingdom). Donated to the Pitt Rivers Museum in 1952. PRM 1952.5.80


Ancient Egyptians believed that in the afterlife their hearts would be weighed against the feather of truth. This scarab is inscribed with prayers, which the deceased could use to calm their heart before being judged.

Head or heart (or both)? Where do my many traumas live on? And do they define me? The answer to the latter is yes! Will my heart show ‘worthiness’ in the afterlife? Does the pain of grieving lost love and the burden of day-to-day living weigh heavy on my shoulders; or manifest through the almost nightly vivid and violent nightmares from which I suffer; or is it all in my neurodivergent mind?

Christopher H., Late-diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and Complex PTSD


View the collections entry for this object with zoomable image.  

Ground Floor Plan of Pitt Rivers Museum showing display locations and pink spot highlighting trail stop

Plan of the museum's ground floor showing this trail location in the centre of the main court, in a desktop display case.

This co-produced gallery trail was developed in partnership with the Curating for Change project. Supported by Accentuate and Screen South, the project provides opportunities for D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people to pursue a curatorial career in museums.

Find out more about Curating for Change


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