In some way, COVID has become a unique common factor for all of us globally. In times of isolation and lockdowns, it has brought us closer as ‘humans’ in ways more than one. This is a brilliant opportunity for museums to become more accessible and inclusive in multiple ways; to reach out to all those whom they previously couldn’t due to various factors. One way to do this is to use technology to its fullest, recognizing that inclusion within museums is not only about wheelchair access or building ramps. This is a great opportunity to become ‘socially’ and ‘intellectually’ accessible for a wider audience.
Museums, being the repository of time, can showcase stories of hope, survival, evolution, and growth through such channels as radio, websites and social media. Post-COVID the scene will be very different, and for an organization (www.accessforall.co) that has been working on developing tactile Braille artworks and objects, multi-sensory programs, and participatory outreach, we will have to look at newer ways for museums to engage with persons with disabilities.
In order for museums to survive, they have a central part to play in the inclusion of all stakeholders, especially of the persons with disabilities – the forgotten stakeholders!
Museums will have to adapt to ‘scenario-based design’, which means that this is an evolving situation in which one doesn’t know what lies ahead, so we will have to be flexible and take it as it comes. There is no prescribed solution to this situation. One can see that very evidently today – the social media team which was once behind-the-scenes has become the most important resource of the museum, keeping its work accessible and ‘e-alive’. So the real question to answer is this: how can museums collaborate with consultants and in-house teams to create a network of stories through various mediums to be relevant, inclusive and significant in the upcoming era of the ‘new normal’?