I took the name for this post from a conference that was held on Monday at Eureka: the National Children’s Museum, which is in Halifax. It expresses a fundamental principle about museums – that all aspects of the Service should be user-friendly.
Below is a statement on access that we produced in Bristol last year, to explain exactly what we mean by it, and what we aspire to. That’s not to say we always achieve our aspirations, but we are trying.
Bristol Museums, Galleries and Archives
We believe good access benefits everyone and our goal is that diverse people find all aspects of our service user-friendly.
By “access” we mean being able to benefit from all that is on offer. This includes the following dimensions of our work:-
Physical – for example being able to navigate the building
Intellectual – for example being able to engage with the interpretation
Social – for example being able to take part in events
Cultural – for example having their faith needs recognized (i.e. when displays include nudity, objects regarded as sacred, human remains, etc).
In practice, access work covers the following areas:
- Environment (Sites and buildings)
- Collections and the objects we exhibit
- Marketing and publicity
- Learning opportunities
- Language and terminology
- Retail services
By ‘diversity’ we mean people’s differences across gender, age, ethnicity, socio-economic background, cultural background, disability, faith, sexual orientation and learning styles.
We constantly ask the question “If we do it this way, who will we be disabling” and “how can we enable them instead?”
We strive to meet the access needs of all users as we believe that people’s access needs are their access needs and we should not expect them to fit in with us. In so doing, we plan to give everyone the same or an alternative equitable experience.
We recognise that people have different access needs at different times and in different situations and that people often fall into more than one category which will affect their access needs, e.g. they may be disabled and under 5.
We work in partnership with diverse communities and individuals to develop access and involve users with particular access needs in the development process.
Our access work is informed by the Equalities Act 2010, Bristol City Council’s Integrated Equalities Policy and Equalities Impact Assessments.
(For the Access All Areas conference information see www.eureka.org.uk)