Staff and Docent Training
Training staff and docents is a multi-faceted, ongoing process. As part of your accessibility programming, consider two types of staff and volunteer training:
In this module, we will review these trainings and suggest how to adapt them for various departments. In addition to accessibility training for staff, you will find sample agendas, checklists, troubleshooting and fundraising tips, and a complete Docent Training course.
- Staff Training
- Docent Training
- Fact Sheet: Questioning Theory and Strategies
- Docent Tour Evaluation Form
Contributors and Reviewers:
Disability Awareness Training
All museum staff members, docents, and volunteers benefit from disability awareness training. Please see our Disability Awareness training module for our online training course, as well as other training resources. Through this training, staff and volunteers learn what resources and services are available to people with disabilities and what barriers exist. This awareness and confidence in their ability to relate to people with disabilities allows your staff and volunteers to do their jobs better, and thus increase visitors' enjoyment of your museum.
In larger institutions, disability awareness training for all staff might be difficult or impractical. Instead, provide trainings tailored to different department needs. Even if you are in a small institution, you may want to consider a group of separate trainings.
Kathryn Potts, Education Director, Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, on How the Whitney Used Sighted and Blind Consultants in Creating Accessibility
Helena Vidal, Director of Education and Public Programs at El Museo del Barrio, New York on The Role of Blind Consultants in creating Accessibility
- Education Department and Volunteer Coordinator. Training can focus on the broad range of disabilities and the accommodations available to make your museum and its collection accessible to as many people as possible. It can also include practical skills on general interaction with people with disabilities.
- Security Guards and Visitor Services. Training can focus on accessibility features and accommodations provided by your museum, and practical skills of interacting with people with disabilities. It could also incorporate a brief Accessibility Tools training, as described below.
- Administration Departments. These include Director, Curatorial, Communications or Public Relations, Publications, Development, Conservation, Collection Management, and Facilities Management. Training can be more general, and include an overview of legal, administrative, and policy issues involved in providing access. Legal counsel, if not in attendance, should receive a memo explaining that training took place and the results of the training. This helps your institution ensure that all legal accessibility obligations are met.
Accessibility Tools Training
A general overview of accessibility tools is an important part of disability awareness training for all staff. But some individual departments require more extensive information and training.
Accessibility tools, as described in this handbook, fall into two categories: Learning Tools, such as verbal description and touch tours, and General Accessibility Tools, such as braille/large print, and accessible Web and tactile graphics. Any department or staff member involved in the design, creation or dissemination of public information should be aware of general accessibility tools, such as design standards and alternative media used in making information accessible to people with low vision and other disabilities.
Education staff, and staff in any other departments involved in lecturing, teaching or presenting information to visitors, should receive more in-depth training on verbal description, touch and tactile experiences, and other learning tools. This type of training is valuable for those working with all audiences, both sighted and blind, and allows staff to accommodate a visitor who is blind or a group of visitors in which one or two members are visually impaired. With basic training, staff members can adapt their knowledge, skills, and experience to the needs of people with a broad range of disabilities.
- Monthly Access Meetings
As part of the on-going learning process, organize informal meetings on different accessibility topics. These meetings should be open to all staff, who may attend for personal or professional reasons. These one-hour meetings should have topics that are easily covered in 30-40 minutes, so there is time for discussion and questions at the end. These meetings can be offered during a lunch hour; providing cookies and coffee always helps to draw in participants.
- Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month
Introduce staff and docent training as part of Art Beyond Sight's annual Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month. See our Awareness Month Web site for practical resources, such as certificates for you to download and give to your docents and staff who participate in the training program.
The importance of docent training cannot be overstated! In most successful programs for people who are blind or visually impaired, a dedicated group of docents form the core staff, and they frequently provide institutional memory through staff changes. Often docents have a personal connection with the blind community. Therefore identifying and training docents is crucial.
If you have the luxury of choosing a specific docent from a pool of applicants, consider these points.
- Screen individuals to ascertain reasons for joining the program.
- If possible, match talents, prior experience, and interests to specific programs.
- Ideally, the candidate should have personal experience with and a connection to the community.
All your docents would benefit from disability awareness training. Please see our Disability Awareness training module for detailed information and resources. A session with a visually impaired person who is both interested in art and familiar with accessibility issues, such as a representative of one of the local chapters of the National Federation for the Blind or American Council for the Blind, can help docents understand what a museum visit can provide for this audience and how best to accomplish your goals.
The docent(s) working with blind and visually impaired audiences should receive the same general museum training as other docents, with additional disability-specific training sessions. In our Agendas section, we have provided a more detailed outline of these training sessions.
Courtney Gerber, Manager of Tour Programs, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis MN on Training Docents for Disabilities
Judy Schmeidler, Docent at the Jewish Museum in New York City with two perspectives on Museum Accessibility
General Training Themes:
- History of the Museum or Institution. This provides a general introduction to the museum, and its collection and mission.
- The Museum's Permanent Collection or Programming. This training can be organized around individual artists, historical periods, styles, or general subjects (landscape, portraiture, urban views, abstraction, popular culture, music, etc.) as appropriate to the museum's collection and your audience's needs. This is usually done over a period of time with various training sessions.
- Exhibition-specific Training. This could include reviewing exhibition catalogs, articles, and didactic labels, meeting with curators to find out their thought process in organizing the exhibition, and working with educators to brainstorm approaches and flesh out ideas for tours and programs.
- Engaging Your Audience: Questioning Strategies. It is important that the conversation not be one-sided; an interactive experience will be much more meaningful. This training helps docents develop open-ended questions and follow-up questions that will elicit thoughtful responses from your audience. IMPORTANT: For the docent working with visually impaired audiences, it is essential to ask for and receive feedback about the effectiveness of their verbal description, or guidance to a tactile diagram.
Disability-specific Training Themes
Once a basic familiarity with the museum is achieved, other skills and training needs may include:
- Disability Awareness Training
- Mobility Awareness: How to physically move a group through the galleries, awareness of barriers, and accommodations available.
- Accessibility Tools.
Types of Training Activities and Resources:
- Exhibition Tours with Curators
- Lectures by Scholars, Artists and Other Speakers
- Informal Staff Discussion or Brainstorming Meetings
- Docent Exchanges, or Team-building Exercises. For example, have each docent become an expert in one area and present information to the group. Or, once a tour structure is established, have each docent write one verbal description for objects in the tour, present it to the group, and incorporate feedback. This way an archive of verbal-description scripts is developed. IMPORTANT: These scripts should not be memorized, but rather should serve as guidance for docents and lecturers.
- Practice Tours Are Essential! These provide opportunities to develop communication skills, learn new question and response strategies, and build confidence. IMPORTANT: Ask a group of volunteers who are blind or visually impaired to give you feedback on your verbal descriptions, presentations, and other activities. Whenever possible, at least one practice session should occur in the galleries or space where the actual presentation will be given, to work out mobility logistics.
- Hands-on Activities
- Web-site Resources
- Videos and Books
Set Accessibility Standard
Some of your trainees and speakers may be visually impaired or have other disabilities. So make sure that training spaces are accessible and all handouts are available in accessible formats.
Good questioning stimulates logical and creative thinking, promotes new insights, and helps you evaluate how much your audience has understood and where more information is needed.
Basic Types of Questions
The six types of questions range from pure recall to open-ended, increasingly complex thought processes.
- Recall: The student is to perform simple recall of specific facts, principles, or generalizations. These are who, what, when, and where questions.
- Comprehension: These q uestions call for understanding, demanding manipulation of data through interpretation, summarization, example, and definition. They are usually characterized by such key words as how or why.
- Application: The student is asked to select facts, principles, and/or generalizations, and apply them to a particular problem.
- Analysis: Students identify and comprehend the elements or parts of a process, communication, or series of events.
- Synthesis: Students are encouraged to engage in original, creative thinking.
- Evaluation: These are questions that call for judgments, opinions, personal reactions, and criticisms, based upon the learner's own criteria. They are u sually characterized by such key words as should, could, and would, or phrases, such as in your opinion.
Types of Questions to Avoid
Questions that lead to group answers.
Double-barreled questions, such as, Why did Andy Warhol use Campbell soup cans as the main subject in his work, and how was the public affected by it?
- Questions that begin with What about?
- Questions that are vague.
- Leading questions that answer the question.
- Catch questions that have no answer.
- Tugging or leading questions, such as: You mix purple by adding red and...?
- Poorly phrased questions, such as: Who can tell us? How about...?
- Elliptical questions, such as: What about this painting?
- Premature questions, asked before the students are able to answer them.
- Chorus questions that cause the class to answer out loud as a group.
- Questions to only one student or only to volunteers.
- Guessing questions, such as: Is Picasso known for surrealism or cubism?
- Questions that have one-word answers such as Yes, No.
Good questions are prefaced by who, what, how, and where.Tips for Good Questioning
Questioning is not an innate talent. It is a skill that must be developed.
Clarity of Purpose.
Once you establish a basic objective, develop your sequence of questions. Keep in mind the purpose of a question when formulating it, and develop questions that are essential to a well-rounded grasp of a problem or topic.
Write the objective and summary of the lesson as a question, preferably as a problem. Questions that present a problem encourage the class to think. From the beginning to the end, the students are made to consider the new work.
Questions should provide continuity to the discussion topic, and reflect the true purpose of a lesson and the content of material. This means that questions should be asked only when they effectively contribute to learning; be flexible. This involves previous planning, as well as quick-on-your-feet thinking.
Ask questions that are clear and simple. Avoid questions that are merely memory testing. Ask questions that are sequential. Questions and answers should be used as stepping-stones to the next question. This contributes to continuous learning.
Ask questions that are personal and relevant to students. Questions that draw on the life experiences of students will be relevant.
Vary the length and difficulty of questions . Observe individual differences and phrase questions so that all students take part in the discussion. Questions should elicit facts, as well as concepts and generalizations.
Direct the question to the entire group, pause to allow comprehension, and then call on the student who is to respond. Allow sufficient time for deliberation. Pausing for a few seconds allows everyone a chance to consider the question. The purpose is to stimulate each student to think about the question; thus learning is more apt to take place for everyone, not just the student who is called upon.
Ask intermediate questions, providing cues or hints, or ask for clarification after the student indicates difficulty in responding effectively to an initial question. The technique is designed to lead the learner to the original question by using existing knowledge and understanding.
Follow up incorrect answers. Take advantage of wrong or marginal answers . Encourage the student to think about the question. Perhaps the student's thinking is partially correct, even novel.
Follow up correct answers. Use a correct answer as a lead to another question. A correct answer sometimes needs elaboration or it can be used to stimulate student comments and discussion.
Involve more than one student in the answer to a question. Such questions often involve several “reasons” or “factors,” differences of opinion, and so forth.
Call on nonvolunteers and volunteers. Some students are shy and need assistance from the teacher. Other students tend to daydream and need coaxing from the teacher to keep attentive. The need is to distribute questions among the entire class so that everyone participates.
Call on disruptive students. This stops troublesome students without having to interrupt the lesson.
Encourage students to ask questions of each other and to make comments. This results in students becoming active learners and in cooperating on a cognitive and social level, which is essential for reflective thinking and social development. Good questions stimulate further questions, even questions by students. The idea is to encourage student comments and interaction among themselves, and to refer student questions or answers to other students to promote discussion, even when directed at the teacher.
Change your position and move around the room. Teacher energy and vitality induces class activity, rapport, and socialization.
Progress Review and Evaluation
At certain points in the lesson's development, or when particularly significant questions have just been answered, question other students as to their evaluations of the response or challenge them to re-state the answer in their own words. This allows a valuable re-emphasis of the answer and enables the teacher to gauge how widespread understanding may be.
At the end of the lesson, review and summarize key observations and conclusions. For older students or adult groups, you may suggest further points for consideration or individual investigation.
University of Michigan Museum of Art
F=Fine R=Refine NA=not applicable
1. Was there a clear statement of the theme of the tour?
2. Did the objects selected illustrate the theme?
3. Was the tour well organized?
4. Did it include an introduction that created interest?
5. Did the transitions help tie the tour together and move the group smoothly through the galleries?
6. At the conclusion of the tour, was there a summary of what was seen and discussed?
7. Was there an invitation to the audience to return (informing the group of related museum programs)?
8. Was the content of the tour chosen to be interesting and appropriate to the age group?
9. Did the docent give accurate information?
10. Did the docent include visual analysis as well as factual information?
11. If the docent used activities other than discussion, were those activities effective and appropriate for the audience?
12. Did the docent use open-ended questions to engage visitors?
13. Did the docent vary the pace of the tour (integrate inquiry, lecture, props/visual aids, etc.)?
14. Did the docent compare, contrast, and put objects in context?
15. Was the vocabulary, as well as the content, at an appropriate level for the audience?
16. Were terms explained as necessary?
17. Was the docent welcoming and friendly?
18. Were questions or strategies used that guided participants to look at and respond to the object?
19. Did the docent notice group reactions and adjust to interest levels, attention span, and language skills?
20. Was the docent responsive to individual differences, modeling respect to art and artists of different cultures?
21. Did the docent invite questions from the audience?
22. Did the docent allow time for looking in silence?
23. Did the docent give the group time to think and answer questions?
24. Did the docent have good eye contact?
25. Could everyone hear the docent, and could the docent appear to hear the audience members and respond appropriately?
26. Was correct pronunciation used?IV. Logistics
27. Did the docent meet the group and quickly begin the tour?
28. Was the tour well paced?
29. Were clear directions given to the group?
30. Did the docent move his/her group smoothly through the galleries, accommodating any unforeseen difficulties?
31. Did the docent allot time well and complete the tour in the specified time?
32. Did the docent manage the group so that others could still move freely in the gallery?
33. Did school tour docents handle any discipline problems effectively?
Copied with permission by the University of Michigan Art Museum
Below is a suggested structure for your docent-training course. Modify it to suit your needs. The training begins as a general docent-training course. After your docents become familiar with your institution and basic tour-giving skills, you can present the concepts of visual impairment and the tools to make art accessible.
Each session has four elements.
Introductions/Welcome: Beyond learning names, this element is important for team and trust building. Many of the training exercises require partners, and giving and receiving feedback from fellow docents. It should be repeated for the first couple of sessions. Also, when working with groups that include people with visual impairments, always introduce everyone in the group.
Objectives: The educator gives an overview of the day's topics and goals, presents any new materials or resources, and introduces the “expert of the day.”
Expert of the Day: Depending on the training themes, this can be a member of the blindness community, a curator, historian, scholar, artist, or educator. This may also be a good time to have a docent present a talk on a particular area of interest or expertise.
Practical Exercises: This is the essential part of the training, giving docents an opportunity to develop their skills and build confidence. Activities may include brainstorming, writing, selecting objects, practice tours, art making, and similar activities.
General Training Themes
These training themes are appropriate for all your docents. They include:
- History of the Museum
- Engaging an Audience and Questioning Strategies
- Your Museum's Permanent Collection
- Exhibition-specific Training
- Objectives: Provide a general introduction to the museum and its collection, setting the context for the museum visit. Review materials: postcards, images central to the museum's history, such as its architecture, or a portrait of founder.
- Expert of the Day. This could be the museum's Director or Deputy Director. As part of the general introduction to the program, this is an excellent opportunity for the museum to recognize and validate the importance of volunteers and docents, or to present a museum educator or curator (you will need the curators at various stages, so plan accordingly).
- Practical Exercises:
- Create a narrative for the history of the museum.
- Introduce the importance of questioning strategies. This will be further developed in the next session.
- Brainstorm general questions and approaches for different audiences, such as: "What is a museum? What is a collection?"
- Explore the architecture of the space. What does the design convey about the function of the building? Was it designed as a museum or is it a converted space?
General Training Theme: Engaging an Audience and Questioning Strategies
- Objectives: To create an interactive experience. Develop open-ended questions and follow-up questions that elicit thoughtful responses from your audiences, such as students, general adult audiences, or seniors.
- Expert of the Day: Have a museum educator present tips and strategies for different audiences.
- Practical Exercises:
- Review Fact Sheet: Questioning Theory and Strategies.
- Different audiences have different needs. Students and younger children will require a more structured program, while adults can receive and reflect upon more subtle and complex information.
- Partner up. Working with one object from collection, brainstorm questions, beginning with the general description of the object to more interpretive questions. Decide on the age group for your practice tour and adjust the level of questions.
- Return to the large group and practice on its members, with docents answering each other's questions.
General Training Theme: the Museum's Permanent Collection
- Objectives: This type of training can be organized around individual artists, historical periods, styles, or general subjects (landscape, portraiture, urban views, abstraction, popular culture, music, and so forth), as appropriate to the museum's collection and your audience's needs. Resource materials could include permanent collection catalogs, postcards, photocopies, slides, and Web sites. Training with the permanent collection may require several sessions. Themes and information can be designed to supplement temporary or traveling exhibitions.
- Expert of the Day. This can be a museum curator, educator, historian, or artist.
- Practical Exercises:
Developing Thematic Tours.
- As a group, create a list of themes for tours.
- Break up into smaller groups to outline tours.
- Choose objects that would be appropriate, developing background information, questions and transitions.
General-Training Theme: Exhibition-specific Training.
- Objectives: To become familiar with exhibition content and organization. To incorporate special exhibitions into existing tours of the permanent collections. Resource materials could include exhibition catalogs, didactic labels, artist files, and other journal articles, postcards, slides, and Web sites.
- Expert of the Day: This can be a museum curator, educator, historian, or artist.
- Practical Exercises
With museum educators, brainstorm themes to explore within the exhibition, appropriate works, with background information, questions and transitions.
If possible, provide this training to all your docents, not just the docents who give specialized tours to people who are blind or visually impaired. These skills can be used with a broad range of audiences and help your docents meet the needs of all museum visitors.
Pay special attention to bringing in experienced trainers and accessibility advisors who are visually impaired. They can give your staff and docents a range of different personal perspectives on blindness, as well as an understanding of your local community of people who are blind or visually impaired and how to connect with them. Spend time practicing sighted-guide techniques, verbal description, and touch tours. Leave time for practice sessions and hands-on activities.
Disability-specific training topics include:
- Disability-awareness Training
- Mobility Awareness
- Accessibility Tools.
- Objectives: To learn about disabilities, including blindness and visual impairment, and the accommodations and enhancements available to create access to the arts for this diverse audience.
- Experts of the Day: This should be a member of the visually impaired community, or a representative from a local or national advocacy organization, experienced with accessibility and interested in the arts.
- Practical Exercises: See our Disability Awareness Training for complete information on this training.
Mobility Awareness: How to Navigate the Galleries with a Tour Group
- Objectives: To consider the physical layout of your museum and learn how to negotiate physical accessibility to the public spaces and galleries of your institution. To become more familiar with the sighted-guide technique.
- Expert of the Day: This can be a mobility educator, or a member of the visually impaired community who is interested in art and familiar with accessibility issues.
- Practical Exercises.
- Review the sighted-guide technique.
- Lead a group of visually impaired volunteers, or if not available, blindfolded volunteers, through a typical tour route. Learn how to physically move through the galleries, from the welcome in the lobby, coat check, restrooms, elevators, galleries, and back to the lobby.
Learning Tool: Verbal-description Skills
- Objectives: To become familiar with the technique of verbal description for audiences who are blind or visually impaired. To develop a verbal description of one work from the collection.
- Expert of the Day: This should be an educator or professional experienced with verbal description.
- Practical Exercises
- Review Learning Tool: Verbal Description.
- Review Art Beyond Sight Guidelines for Verbal Descriptions.
- Read and Listen to Samples of Verbal Description.
- Ask a colleague to draw a picture as you verbally describe a painting; then compare it to the actual artwork. What was left out of the description?
- Write a verbal description of a work of art, read it to a person who has not seen the object, then ask that person to compare the mental image created by your description with the actual work of art.
Learning Tool: How to Give a Touch Tour
- Objectives: To understand how an artwork can be understood through touch. To learn how to guide an art experience though touch. To briefly review conservation concerns with tactile access and how to protect works of art.
- Expert of the Day: This should be an educator or professional experienced with touch tours.
- Practical Exercises
- Review Learning Tool: Touch Tours and other Tactile Experiences.
- Curators, conservators and educators will choose works that are appropriate for a touch tour. Review background information on these works.
- Develop verbal descriptions for these works.
- Adapt question strategies to the tactile experience.
Learning Tool: Incorporating Alternative Tactile Experiences
- Objectives: To understand how an artwork can be understood through touch. To learn how to guide an art experience though touch.
- Expert of the Day: This should be an educator or professional experienced with touch tours, or an individual who is blind or visually impaired, experienced with art and with explaining tactile experiences.
- Practical Exercises.
- Review Learning Tool: Touch Tours and other Tactile Experience.
- Brainstorm alternative tactile experiences. Be creative!
- Choose works for which you think an alternative tactile experience might work. They may be related to those on your touch tour; for example, explore a similar theme or a different work by the same artist.
- Create a verbal description for your tactile experience, linking it to the work.
- Try it out on a volunteer who is blind or visually impaired.
Learning Tool: Tactile Diagrams
- Objectives: To become familiar with the methodology of the tactile diagram; to understand how verbal description works with tactile diagrams.
- Expert of the Day: This should be a tactile diagram researcher, museum educator, or a blind volunteer experienced with tactile diagrams.
- Practical Exercises.
- Review Learning Tool: Tactile Diagrams.
- Review guidelines for making tactile diagrams.
- Familiarize yourself with patterns and icons used in the diagrams.
- Review sample tactile diagrams include in the book Art Beyond Sight: A Resource Guide, and the Art History through Touch and Sound series, either in traditional print form or from the Online version of the series.
- Compare the experience of using the diagram without, and then with, the verbal descriptions.
- Create your own tactile diagram for a work on your touch tour, and write a verbal description to go with it. Using a familiar work of art will facilitate the process.
Learning Tool: Sound and Drama
- Objectives: To understand how sound and movement can enhance a touch tour or classroom experience.
- Expert of the Day: This can be a musician, dancer, actor, or educator.
- Practical Exercises
- Review Learning Tool: Sound And Drama.
- Listen to examples of Sound Images from Art History Through Touch and Sound series.
- Research music and musical instruments of the period.
- Create musical instruments from everyday materials.
- Act out a work of art, preferably one for which you have already written a verbal description and included in a touch tour. Ask docents (as students) to position their bodies as a figure in a work of art. What would the next movement in the narrative be?
Learning Tool: Art-making and Hands-on Activity Training
- Objectives: To understand that there are professional artists who are blind and visually impaired. To discover the benefits of art-making programs . To become familiar with art-making materials used by people who are blind and visually impaired. Resource materials could include slides or other images (postcards, photocopies, Web images) of works by professional artists who are blind.
- Expert of the Day: This can be an artist who is blind or visually impaired, or an art therapist.
- Practical Exercises:
- Review Learning Tool: Art Making
- See our Art Program at a School or Community Center for the Blind for more art making ideas.
- Play! Try out the materials and processes used, and the types of results processes. Try more than one material and process if possible.
Disability-awareness Training Session:
- Research instructors. Find out any space or materials requirements, technical services required, and so forth.
- Identify participants, and coordinate time and date.
- Reserve the meeting space, and make sure it is accessible.
- Prepare information packets in advance, as participants may want to review materials in advance; have copies in accessible formats.
- Refreshments are usually welcome.
After completing the above disability-awareness training, staff and docents can continue with basic training. Adapt knowledge, skills and experience to this particular audience's needs.
- Contact professionals at other museums with established programs for materials and advice.
- Provide meeting space.
- Prepare descriptions of tools for providing accessibility. (See earlier chapter in this book.) Provide samples where possible.
After completing the basic staff/docent training outlined in the Agendas section, continue to train advanced docents. If possible, this should be ongoing multi-session training, with repeated practice sessions and activities, as this is the way to increase confidence and ownership of the program. After some time, a docent leader could be identified and independent practice sessions encouraged.
- Identify members of your volunteer audience. Solicit donations and museum “freebies” as thank-you gifts for these volunteers, such as museum passes, discounts to the store or museum events.
- Provide meeting space.
- Schedule multiple sessions.
- Write handouts, with background information on different objects in the collection.
- Prepare materials for hands-on activities.
- Complete and review evaluations of docent tours.
- Find one or two people in your docent corps who would be interested in leading tours for visitors who are blind and visually impaired, as well as their standard tours. It is our recommendation that the docents be experienced in both techniques.
- THERE IS NEVER ENOUGH TIME! Don't worry if you train your docents only once or twice a year, or have very limited time for disability awareness training, and have even less time for information on visual disabilities. Whatever time you have, go for it! This is an ongoing process; encourage your docents to review the material presented on this web site on their own.
- Practice, practice, practice ! Your docents and volunteers may not be completely comfortable leading tours for blind visitors even after going through the formal training process. Don't worry – lack of practice can make people jittery. Have your docents and tour-leading volunteers meet separately with members of the advisory board and friends of the museum who are blind, to practice communication skills, sighted-guide techniques, verbal description and tactile tours. Allow time for discussion afterwards. Document feedback, and revise tours accordingly.
- Learn from each other! Encourage your staff, docents, and volunteers to share the aspects of the tour or of working with people who are blind that make them uncomfortable, or where they are afraid of making the visitor uncomfortable, and develop strategies to deal with their problems. They can also share positive experiences and approaches that were successful.
- Since this is primarily an investment of time, and largely the time of your volunteers, funding issues are slightly easier to resolve. Try to find some low-cost method of remuneration for your advisory board, “experts of the day,” and volunteers, such as admission vouchers, museum memberships, and discounts to the museum store.
- Seek out a sponsor for your monthly access lunch meetings and trainings, such as hospitals, insurance companies, and other corporate sponsors.
- Again, this is primarily an investment of time, and largely the time of your volunteers. Try partnering a blind volunteer with a docent.
- Reward your docents and volunteers. See the Awareness Month Web site for downloadable posters, and certificates of participation and appreciation, to motivate and thank your docents and volunteers.