The Sharjah Museums Department, which has more than 16 museums, has decided to throw open the doors to special needs children. It will work together with the social services organization, Sharjah City of Humanitarian Services, to introduce programmes that will provide opportunities for children with special needs to tour museums.
They will begin with museum tours tailor-made for children with hearing disabilities, produce cross-promotional material, and allow free museum entrance for Sharjah City of Humanitarian Services (SCHS) students and their parents.
‘The idea is to ensure that its museums are open and accessible to children with disabilities, and that the community is aware of the importance of museums as cultural and educational destinations,’ said Manal Ataya, director general of Sharjah Museums Department. ‘Community involvement and enabling visitors with different disabilities to be part of a museum’s activities is absolutely crucial to us and we are constantly collaborating with local partners to achieve that.’
Because of this hundreds of students under the care of SCHS will attend the department’s various cultural and educational programmes on a regular basis.
The department will also create a tailor-made programme for Al Amal School for Deaf Students. The ‘Outstanding Guide’ initiative will see expert volunteers take part in a one-week training course at the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization in which they will be taught how to give guided tours using sign language.
The department’s tie up with SCHS is the latest in its initiatives to provide children with disabilities more access to museums. Last month it set up ‘touch tours’ for the visually impaired, consisting of replicas of a selection of objects from across Sharjah’s 16 museums. It also provides educational material in Braille and large print.