Research reveals that during pandemic, museum engagement amongst disabled people has improved

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13th August 2021 12:35 - Museums, Libraries and Archives

Research reveals that during pandemic, museum engagement amongst disabled people has improved: A study has revealed some positive news in terms of engagement relating to the museums sector, uncovering that the global Covid-19 pandemic has improved engagement for disabled people.

The consultation revealed that almost all D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent respondents felt the pandemic had provided a positive opportunity to engage in flexible remote working, interview practices and digital engagement for audiences.

It also found that the most common reason for D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people not being as successful at progressing a career in the museums sector were inaccessible recruitment practices, lack of flexibility with working patterns and unnecessary requirements such as having a driving licence or ability to lift objects.

The report by Accentuate, a specialist disability programme, titled: Curating for Change: Disabled People Leading in Museums was compiled after a consultation made up of surveying, phone interviews and workshops with a wide range of museums, sector organisations, disabled people’s organisations, and D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people working in museums or wanting to pursue a career in museums.

Curating for Change was set up with support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF). It is an England-wide initiative seeking to ‘create sea change’ in the way D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people are represented within the nation’s museums. Then followed an Art Fund award to support the implementation of the Museums Strategic Disability Network to help drive change across the sector.

When asking Partner Museums why they wanted to take part in the Curating for Change scheme, the top reason given was to increase their skills and expertise. Almost all the Partners polled said they want to learn more about how they can better recruit D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people (94.1%), while almost nine in 10 (88.2%) said they would like to gain new skills to help them create fully accessible exhibitions and experiences, while the same percentage (88.2%) said they would like to understand more about how they can improve engagement for D/deaf and/or disabled audience members.

The survey asked participating museums about what prevents them from engaging with more D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent audience members, with the top two barriers being revealed as ‘a lack of specialist contacts’ (58.8%) and ‘a lack of understanding and/or skills to provide support to engagement’ (58.8%). Other responses given were ‘a lack of confidence within our organisation’ (47.1%), ‘a lack of finances for supporting additional needs of D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent audiences’ (41.2%), and ‘a lack of space and/or facilities within our organisation’ (29.4%).

To find out more visit www.accentuateuk.org



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