Audiences with diabilities and museums


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Presentation given at ACAA conference, Adelaide, October 2008

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Audiences with diabilities and museums

  1. 1. Many voices, making choices: Audiences with disabilities and museums
  2. 2. <ul><li>Almost 20%, or 1 in 5, Australians have some form of disability </li></ul><ul><li>People with disabilities have generally positive view of the arts </li></ul><ul><li>Potential to increase visitor numbers: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>they visit in groups </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>strong networks & word of mouth </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Huge amount of literature/guidelines available: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>yet little from the perspective of audiences with disabilities themselves </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>none in museums sector in Australia </li></ul></ul>Reasons for study 1
  3. 3. <ul><li>Better ways to meet needs of disabled groups means all audiences benefit </li></ul>Reasons for study 2
  4. 4. <ul><li>Literature Review </li></ul><ul><li>Focus Groups Sydney + Canberra: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mixed groups </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>physical disabilities </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>intellectual disabilities </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Deaf community </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Carers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mix of visitors and non-visitors </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Email survey </li></ul><ul><li>Workshops with range of museum staff/peak body groups in Sydney/Canberra </li></ul>Research method
  5. 5. <ul><li>Mixed groups: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>heard from many different types of disabilities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>identified common issues from range of perspectives </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>more enjoyable for participants </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>networking opportunities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>learning experience for disability groups as they hear experiences of others </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Exceptions: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>carers, deaf culture, some intellectual </li></ul></ul>Research issues 1
  6. 6. <ul><li>Sourcing the sample: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>email & posting to websites </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>people with disabilities are tech-savvy </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>word of mouth is key </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>use peak bodies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>consultants that are credible within the community </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Participants: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>identify as disabled </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>interested in museums (even if haven't visited) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>able & comfortable to attend group discussion </li></ul></ul>Research issues 2
  7. 7. <ul><li>Organising the research groups “tested” the capacity of each organisation to supply services for these groups: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>parking & transport </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>location of rooms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>easy to find, no stairs </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>catering </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>staff needed to be comfortable with people with disabilities &/or had awareness training </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>signing receipts for payment </li></ul></ul>Research issues 3
  8. 8. <ul><li>Intellectual disabilities: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>involved in mixed group to give different perspective </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Year 10 high school group (Canberra): </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>valuable experience for skills development & social integration </li></ul></ul></ul>Research issues 4
  9. 9. <ul><li>Supportive of museums </li></ul><ul><li>Interested & frequent visitors if: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>something there they want to see </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>range of access services available </li></ul></ul><ul><li>See museums as excellent environments for learning, educational & social experiences with family and friends </li></ul><ul><li>Knew of staff concerns about & problems with access, yet wanted these dealt with </li></ul>General findings
  10. 10. <ul><li>Access museums on their own terms: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>understand it is hard to visit alone but increases confidence & self-esteem </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>choosing their own type of visiting experience gives them independence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>need good information/separate section on websites about accessibility </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Having to book [parking] means having to make a commitment. It means you can’t think ‘Oh, I’ll just go to the museum today’. [I want to be] flexible and spontaneous.” </li></ul></ul>They want to …
  11. 11. <ul><li>Physical: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>include whether possible to independently enter & enjoy the museum on their terms </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Failure to provide specific services (e.g. captioning) </li></ul><ul><li>Staff attitudes, awareness & training </li></ul><ul><li>Cost: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>admission, transport, food, carers’ costs </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Uninteresting, irrelevant topics & content </li></ul>Barriers
  12. 12. Conclusions <ul><li>Museums have much to offer audiences with disabilities </li></ul><ul><li>Museums are being asked to open their doors, invite people with disabilities in and let them enter independently, assured of good access, and with the chance to make their own choices about their museum experience in a respectful, enjoyable and stimulating environment </li></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>Respect for them as individuals </li></ul><ul><li>Choice </li></ul><ul><li>Welcoming atmosphere from trained & aware; friendly & knowledgeable staff: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>both front & back of house </li></ul></ul><ul><li>See themselves reflected in programs, exhibitions, collections & staffing: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>the “work” of the museum </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Active & varied learning experiences </li></ul><ul><li>Involvement </li></ul><ul><li>Contemporary: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>in communication & interpretation modes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>content/issues covered that are relevant & current </li></ul></ul>All audiences want
  14. 14. <ul><li>NOVA Employment Group (Sydney): </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>develop skills in answering questions, completing worksheets, reading, writing & talking </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>increase sense of social integration </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>develop capacity to visit museums </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>a way of earning money – effort and reward </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>provide trainees and job coaches an enjoyable, social experience that will encourage them to return </li></ul></ul></ul>Current work
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