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Meet on ‘Museums and disabled’ in Mysore

The Regional Museum of Natural History of the Government of India, Ministry of Environment & Forests (RMNH), based in Mysore will be organizing a National Conference on “Museums and Disabled” during 17-19 January 2008. The venue may be Mysore or Chennai.

The RMNH Mysore has established itself as a pioneer in the field of museum accessibility with reference to persons with disabilities (PwDs). The first ‘Museum Garden for Disabled’ was established in its campus in Mysore in October 2006 and it has become a hub of activities involving PwDs.

It has so far organized two national level programmes: a workshop called “Thamaso ma Jyothirgamaya” in 2006 and a conference on “Access for All” in 2007. In addition to more than 200 museologists from all over India, a large number of PwDs from South India
and Madhya Pradesh have participated in these programmes. The details of the ‘Garden for Disabled’ have been published in international conferences of ICOM (International Council of Museums) and ICEVI (International Council for the Education of People with Visual impairments). A “Mysore Declaration on Museums and Disabled” has been one of the outcomes of the national conference on “Access for all”.

The proposed national conference on “Museums and Disabled” is expected to attract a large number of experts in the fields of museology, heritage management, disability studies, architecture, public works etc., along with officials from various government departments. A large number of agencies involved in helping the disabled along with many PwDs have confirmed their participation.

The programme schedule is expected to comprise of the following: Exhibition of assistive devices and books which may be useful for museums, plenary sessions, academic sessions in various groups, special session on a proposed “Accessible gallery”, demonstration of access audits of museums, demonstration of “Sensitisation of museum staff”, filed visits to local places of interest, and preparation of a draft “National policy for museums and the disabled” for discussion and eventual submission to the concerned ministries and other Government agencies, according to Dr B. Venugopal, Scientist-in-Charge, Regional Museum of Natural History, Sidharth Nagar PO, Mysore-570011. email: vbha56@ yahoo.com

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