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5 actions to get started on access in a museum / gallery

Do an accessibility review

Assess the current provisions and barriers in your museum to ensure that spaces are accessible and actually used by Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people. Ensure that the scope of the review encompasses ways of engaging with museum collections beyond the idea of a museum behind four walls: digital engagement, digital interfaces and their accessibility, online content open access, reputation, social media engagement, and spaces that fall outside of the scope of the specific gallery: shops, cafés...


Set up advisory groups

Advisory and community groups are crucial in ensuring that access is embedded in all aspects of an organisation and reflects the genuine, and varied, needs of communities. Inclusion is complex, and the hard part is knowing that we cannot accommodate every need at once, and that those needs are ever-changing; but what we can always do is hold space for communication, and we can always try to be more creative, and to be more compassionate, and to increase levels of access and involvement.


Be trauma-informed

Think about the situatedness of your collections: museums were created to classify objects and people and ideas into worthiness. Some collections can be more harmful than others. It is crucial to be trauma-informed and aware of the potential triggers that collections can have on visitors, advisors, experts, and staff. It is paramount that the involvement of communities do not trigger, re-traumatise, or feel tokenistic to audiences we wish to include and represent.


Be committed from the onset

Be committed to equity and social justice, ensuring that services and products linked to your museum / gallery are inclusive and accessible. Involving Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people in museum programming is an essential step towards creating inclusive and accessible experiences: ensuring that the museum is not just committed to inclusion, but that inclusion and access are embedded and reflected in all its aspects, and that emanates from deep involvement from the outset.


Celebrate disabled joy

So much of inclusion and accessibility work is rooted in removing physical and intellectual barriers, preventing trauma, doing politics. All of that is tremendously important but it is also heavy. And often we forget about disabled joy. We need to ensure that Disabled, Deaf and neurodivergent people are involved in the joyful parts too! We need more celebrations, events and launch nights that don’t have normative ways of celebrating, but that are led by and work for Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent audiences.

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