|Practical Considerations: Step 3|
- Start Small. You may not be able to create a comprehensive advisory board in one step. Although it is important to have a diverse advisory board, it is equally important to have dedicated and committed advisors who will ensure the stability of the program. Later, your advisors may bring colleagues, friends, and family members, whose advice would be valuable to your program.
- Expect Diversity. In conversation with your blind and visually impaired advisors, you will find that everyone's expectations and priorities are different, even conflicting. DON'T WORRY! Blind people come with different preferences, levels of exposure to the arts, and different tactile explorations skills, as well as different prior museum experience. Some will be interested in the arts and want in-depth information about your collection or programs available to them in accessible format. Others may expect only a cursory overview. Those who lost their sight later in life may prefer verbal description over touch tours, while others will be disappointed if you do not have a touch tour, if your touch tour consists of only limited objects, or if they are not allowed to touch the actual objects of art and are instead offered tactile models.
- Be patient and explain that everything has to start somewhere—that this is only the beginning of your program.
- Document their input so that you can address these issues in the future.
- Explain your fiscal limitations, your facility limitations, and conservation concerns that you and your audience will have to work through together.
- With blind and visually impaired people, as with all audiences, you may find yourself in the position of not being able to please everyone. Rest assured that your efforts are worthwhile and important.
- Rethink Your Strategy. The number of initial respondents may be small. Think of other places to look for people whose opinion and expertise will be valuable for your program. Are there places and professionals you have not considered? You may be able to contact some potential advisors, such as parents of blind children, for example, through national headquarters that will point you towards their local chapters. See our Community Outreach module for more information about reaching them.
- Keep in Mind Both Short- and Long-Term Goals. It may be overwhelming to address complete accessibility to the entire range of your collection. While it is crucial to offer blind visitors the same experience and information offered to sighted visitors, it is more important to make a start soon, even a limited one, rather than put your program on hold for a number of years in the hopes of getting more experienced staff, larger funds, or being able to hire a consultant. Starting small is okay.
- The real goal of this process is for you and your advisory board to identify the basic outline and a combination of learning tools for your program. Don't worry if it's not fleshed out completely. As you go through the process, things will get clearer. Start with a pilot, review it, and revise it.