A year ago, I was asked to serve as the IMA’s Accessibility Taskforce Chair, which included memorizing abbreviations UD, ADA, ASL, ALD and AD. The truth of the matter is, my previous experience was limited to working with cognitive disabilities. Thus, the adoption of the famous phrase coined by actor Bill Murray in What About Bob as a way of approaching the practice of access. “Baby step onto the elevator…baby step into the elevator…I’m in the elevator”. In March 2010, members of the Accessibility Taskforce partnered with the Museum’s Education and Public Programs departments to make a concerted effort to apply universal design (UD) to both the IMA environment and its programs.
* Architecture. On March 1st, the IMA opened a Nursing Mother’s Room. This private facility is equipped with comfortable seating, electrical outlets, a changing station, and sanitizer. It is also conveniently located next door to a private restroom with sink on the ground level of the museum.
* Audio Description. On March 5th, the IMA welcomed the Joe Goode Performance Group. The San Francisco-based dance group used puppeteering, narrative, sound and movement to perform the tale of Wonderboy, a superhero isolated by his gift of sensitivity. The IMA commissioned artist Dante Ventresca of Theater of Inclusion to write and perform an audio description for a universal audience via assistive listening devices.
* Awareness. On March 6th, the IMA hosted the annual Ms. Wheelchair Indiana program that named Joey Alise Murello the organization’s new public advocate. Over the next year, Joey will focus on the abilities of those with disabilities to help remove the perception that they are less capable.
* Affiliate. ArtsWORK Indiana and the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired sponsored a Double-Shot Documentary Day on March 13th. Two films about people making music against the odds were shown in the Tobias Theater. In addition, tours incorporating ASL and audio description with touchable artwork were offered by Museum docents.
* American Sign Language. The Indiana School for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired performed Vibrations on March 18 and 19 in the Tobias Theater. The troupe showcased talents in dance, ASL song-interpretation, drums and hilarious skits.
I realize such endeavors are “baby steps.” I know we are on a path to being in the figurative elevator. Stay tuned.