Article

Accessibility impacts Brazilian museum

Before Perkins training, there were no accessibility options for people with disabilities visiting the Earth Sciences Museum in Rio de Janeiro. Now? Their impact grows.

Group picture of the Sentidos Brasil-Perkins Working Group at the Earth Sciences Museum in Rio de Janeiro.

Before Perkins training, there were no accessibility options for people with disabilities visiting the Earth Sciences Museum in Rio de Janeiro.

Now? Their impact grows.

Accessibility in numbers

In 2021, the Sentidos Brasil-Perkins Working Group (WG), which consists of people with disabilities, families, and professionals with experience in the education and inclusion of children and youth with visual impairments, multiple disabilities, and deafblindness, helped the museum impact 3,945 people.

So far in 2022, the number of people impacted rose to 9,411. The museum has:

Flyer with Portuguese text. The background image shows an example of tactile exploration: there are two rocks exhibited on a table with note cards underneath each one. A hand firmly grasps the rock on their right-hand side.
Museum flyer that highlights the changes implemented in the museum in tandem with Perkins
Accessible mineral rock exhibition. There is a white label on the bottom left of the blue display cube. While it's not noticeable in the picture, the braille plaque is also there.
Mineral rock exhibit with a transparent braille plaque on the bottom left corner.

Accessibility is a Journey

In 2018, Perkins established the WG hoping to implement more accessibility options in Brazil. Since learning isn’t limited only to schools, they developed action plans to improve accessibility within cultural institutions. Soon after, in 2019, the Earth Sciences Museum in Rio de Janeiro welcomed the initiative. 

The WG, along with Perkins support, coordinated the training for the museum staff. They introduced the scope of disability diversity and various accessibility strategies such as audio description, sign language, and other communication tools. In addition, they provided the staff with opportunities for tactile exploration, hand under hand strategy, and more.

“Perkins brought several solutions and strategies so that we could improve our actions in relation to inclusion, and this was put into practice, both in itinerant actions and in specific actions within the museum.”

Rodrigo, a museum staff member

While the pandemic derailed the world’s plans in 2020, the WG and the museum maintained a strong connection. The museum’s team members became energized in making their space and their collection of minerals and fossils accessible to everyone. Célia Corsino, the museum general coordinator, gave a lively speech about the experience, “The museum team has been different since we started the partnership with the [WG]. We now have a different perspective and a different way of thinking about our work, being aware that it must happen to everyone, and that it is possible to do this!”

Zoom meeting between WG and museum staff on disability inclusion.
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