Accessibility at museums reflects a "culture of compliance" more than genuine efforts towards inclusion, says Richard Sandell. How can these institutions integrate disability into their displays and combat indifference towards disabled people?
'Museums routinely discriminate against disabled people. Although anti-discrimination laws in the UK have generally proved effective in ensuring that disabled people can, in one way or another, gain entry to cultural institutions, the experiences that await them are often sorely lacking. Newly built museums and large-scale refurbishment projects continue to open with displays that betray the lack of attention paid to disabled people, especially those with learning and sensory impairments. Museums are not only inaccessible to many but they also neglect to tell stories linked to disabled people’s lives, or they portray individuals in ways that perpetuate deeply entrenched negative stereotypes of disability. The cumulative effect of this widespread and persistent disregard is that many do not feel welcome in our cultural institutions and, as a result, visit less often.
Change has been slow but we can begin to see improvements being made and, excitingly, some examples that show what is possible when museums actively listen to and fully involve disabled people in planning their new galleries, facilities and public programmes.' ... Keep reading on Apollo Magazine