Getting Started: Assess Your Institution

How to Gear Up Your Institution
(...and How to Keep It Going in the Following Year!)

Assess Your Institution

If you answer no to any of the following questions, click on the module title for more information and learn how to answer yes!

Disability Awareness Training

  1. Do your staff and docents know what accessibility features are available?
  2. Do you have a staff person in the education department, Visitor Services, or other department who is able to greet and assist blind visitors, when necessary?
  3. Do your security guards know how meet the needs of people with disabilities, including visual impairments?
  4. Do you have a staff person or a volunteer who is able to give awareness training?

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Tools for Providing Accessibility to People who Are Blind or Have Low Vision

  1. Is your museum physically accessible for people in wheelchairs?
  2. Is your museum accessible for blind people using a cane?
  3. Do you have large-print brochures and labels?
  4. Do you have braille labels?
  5. Do you make large-print brochures and large-print and braille labels for special exhibits?
  6. Do you give verbal-description tours of your permanent collection exhibit?
  7. Do you create verbal descriptions for select works from traveling exhibits?
  8. Do you give touch tours?
  9. Do you have touchable works of art approved by conservators?
  10. Do you use touchable models or other touchable renderings of artworks?
  11. Do you have art-making classes?
  12. Do you use sound or drama in your programs?
  13. Do you use tactile diagrams?

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Advisory Board

  1. Do you have an advisory board for program for people with disabilities?
  2. Are people with disabilities a part of your larger advisory board?
  3. Do you use your advisory board to pilot your programs and give feedback?
  4. Do you use your advisory board members to help your institution with community outreach?
  5. Do you ask your advisory board members for funding ideas?

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Launching a Pilot Program

  1. Do you include people with visual impairments and their families in existing programs?
  2. Do you know the steps involved in launching a basic pilot program?
  3. Do you network with other accessible museums and educators interested in accessibility?

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The Museum Team

  1. Are all members of your museum team aware of visitors with disabilities?
  2. Do your work with your Publication Department on creating accessible copies (large print and braille) of all materials available to the public?
  3. Do you work with your Education Department to include blind children and adults in its existing programs?
  4. Do you work with conservators on choosing artworks for touch tours and creating guidelines for touching art works?
  5. Do you work with curators on including the works of artists with disabilities in their exhibits?
  6. Do you work with exhibition design specialists on incorporating Universal Design features and making your exhibits accessible?
  7. Do you work with Visitor Services to ensure physical accessibility of your facility?
  8. Do you work with your Audio/Visual Department on making your audio guide accessible to blind people?

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Staff and Docent Training

  1. Is disability awareness training a part of your yearly docent training?
  2. Do you train docents how to overcome practical and unconscious barriers between visitors with vision loss and your institution's staff?
  3. Do you train your docents in giving verbal-description tours?
  4. Do you train your staff in giving touch tours?
  5. Do you train your staff in using tactile diagrams?
  6. Is your staff trained to accommodate a group of seniors or students with only one or two people with visual disabilities?
  7. Does your staff take part in the yearly Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month celebration and refresher training course?

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Community Outreach and Open House

  1. Are you reaching out to these members of your community and agencies in your neighborhood? 
    • Residential school for blind students
    • Public schools that integrate blind students
    • Educator of blind children
    • Parents and families of blind children
    • Art educators
    • Art therapists
    • Local chapters of national advocacy groups of blind people
    • Recreational facilities
    • Independent living centers
    • Centers for senior who are blind
    • Homebound people
    • Ophthalmologists
  2. Do you have an exhibition of blind artist/s, blind students' artworks or reception that can coincide with your Open House?
  3. Have you invited blind artists to speak at your Open House?
  4. Have you received feedback on your programming?
  5. Have you developed a contact list of participants at your Open House?

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Outreaching to Schools and Teacher Training. (See sections: Museum-School Partnerships, Art Program at a School or Community Center for the Blind, or Art Program for Seniors and Veterans)

  1. Do you have a residential school for the blind in your community?
  2. Do you welcome classes from public schools with one or two blind students?
  3. Do you hold professional development workshops for public schools teachers that work with blind children?

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Employment and Opportunities for Blind People at Museums and in the Arts

  1. Do you have blind or visually impaired interns?
  2. Do you have blind or visually impaired volunteers?
  3. Do you have a docent who is visually impaired or losing her/his sight?
Making Sure the Program Lasts
  1. Do you document your program?
  2. Will your program be able to continue if the funding is cut, or if the responsible staff person leaves your institution?
  3. Do you have a core of trained and dedicated docents who are able to give tours to people who are blind and visually impaired?
  4. Will your visually impaired advisory board members continue to work with the museum even if much of the staff changes?
  5. Is there a demand and interest for your program among the members of the blindness community?

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