A new program by the Museum of Cycladic Art
With the aim to be more accessible and inclusive for all, the Museum of Cycladic Art has developed the program “IN TOUCH”, enabling individuals with sensory impairments to have access to the permanent Cycladic Art exhibition.
The program takes place within the framework of the European Erasmus+ Program and is implemented with the support of Eurolife FFH, a strategic partner of the Museum of Cycladic Art. It was designed in close cooperation with the Non-profit Civil Partnership (NPCP) “Me Alla Matia” and HandsUp —the first sign language interpreting agency in Greece— and was launched after a successful pilot trial, involving focus groups of individuals with sensory impairment.
The program includes:
- A new mobile showcase for the visually impaired
- A multisensory museum kit
- A series of actions to make the Museum accessible to deaf or hard-of-hearing persons.
Mobile showcase for the visually impaired
For the program “In TOUCH”, the Museum of Cycladic Art has created a thematic tour, accessible to persons with visual impairments, creating a mobile showcase on the subject of Cycladic Culture. The showcase was created with the participation of a focus group of visually impaired individuals, in collaboration with the social enterprise “Me Alla Matia” and its President, Vaggelis Avgoulas. It was designed to include persons with visual impairments, without preventing any visitor who might want to enrich their museum experience from using it.
The showcase consists of different cases and includes a floor plan of the room, tactile maps of Greece and the Cyclades, and exhibit replicas made of marble or resin.
The tour is accompanied by appropriately formatted, descriptive texts available in Braille (for the blind) and large print (for the partially sighted), while also incorporating auditory elements into the experience, with audio guides for the Collection of Cycladic Art both in Greek and English. The recorded files included in the showcase provide information and instructions on the tactile experience and can be found in the Clio Muse application. This application, free of charge and accessible via a mobile phone provided by the Museum, is also aimed at the visually impaired individuals who use a screen reader.
The showcase can be used by at least two people and up to a small mixed group of people (with and without impairments) at once, accompanied by museum staff. The tour comprises thirteen different stopping points within the exhibition that are listed on the room’s floor plan. Each item bears a number, corresponding to the printed texts or audio descriptions.
In the context of the program “IN TOUCH”, a training seminar was held for the staff members of the Museum of Cycladic Art, aiming at familiarizing them with the concept of disability and proper welcoming of visitors with visual impairments (reception, tour, guiding, terminology, etc.)
Multi-sensory museum kit related to the Cycladic Culture
The program “IN TOUCH” also includes a multi-sensory museum kit on Cycladic Culture designed for the visually impaired. It enables them to explore elements such as the geography and history of the Cyclades, figurines, and raw materials, both inside and outside of the museum.
The museum kit contains a book with information in Braille and large print, an embroidered map, a tactile water map, stones, threads, fragments from replicas of figurines, and marble replicas of figurines. A video addressed mainly to the teacher/animator of the program explains how the material contained in the museum kit can be used for a journey through space and time.
The museum kit was originally designed for the Kallithea School for the Blind, where it is still located, while two more museum kits are being sent to special schools and typical schools to raise awareness among students, as well as nursing homes and other institutions. It was created as part of the Erasmus+ 2014-2017 program, exclusively for visually impaired individuals and in collaboration with the University of Thessaly.
A program for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
Finally, the program “IN TOUCH” of the Museum of Cycladic Art includes a series of actions that aim at making the Museum more accessible to deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals.
Information about visiting the museum is already available at cycladic.gr in the Greek Sign Language. A sign-language video can also be found at the museum entrance, providing detailed information about the museum (collections, opening hours, etc.).
The permanent exhibition of Cycladic Art includes a video of a recorded tour in the Greek Sign Language, accompanied by Greek subtitles, and in International Signs, accompanied by English subtitles. The sign language tour covers the main themes of Cycladic Culture and encompasses relevant images. In this way, the Cycladic Art Collection becomes accessible to all deaf and hard-of-hearing visitors, whether Greek or foreign.
The sign language videos were created in collaboration with HandsUp, the first sign language interpreting agency in Greece.
The museum’s partners
“Me Alla Matia”
Non-Profit Civil Partnership “Me Alla Matia” was founded in June 2018 by a group of disabled young people, who were self-organized with the ultimate goal of claiming inclusion and accessibility through social action. It was implemented as an afterthought of the unique, fully accessible news portal meallamatia.gr, which started as a blog in 2011 and continues to be a powerful means of promoting the disabled so that they become more and more visible to society.
Our vision is to eliminate the underrepresentation of disabled people and the dimension of disability in public debate and Civil Society.
Hands Up is a startup company and the first sign language interpreting agency in Greece. It offers accessible services to deaf and hard-of-hearing people, such as sign language interpretation, lip-reading, news, information, and entertainment through the new website: hands-up.org. Moreover, it advertises companies, organizations, etc. Through sign language, the team offers subtitling services and converts websites so that they are accessible and friendly to deaf and hard-of-hearing users. Finally, HandsUp can also train companies and organizations wishing to be informed about the right way to address deaf or HoH people, and create a unique customer experience for them.