Australian Museum - Disability Action Plan 2010-2012

The Museum has developed a new Disability Action Plan covering the three years 2010 to 2012.

The Plan identifies the barriers facing and the needs of people with a disability and proposes a comprehensive response. The Plan addresses the 5 outcomes sought by the NSW Government for people with a disability. These outcomes are set out in Guidelines fo disability action planning for NSW Government agencies. The Museum will report progress in implementing the Plan in its Annual Reports.

Availability

The Museum’s Disability Action Plan is also available in PDF format at: http://www.australianmuseum.net.au/document/Disability-Action-Plan-2010-2012/

Copies of the Plan may also be obtained by contacting Michael Tierney during business hours: +612 9320 6000.

Director’s Message

The Australian Museum is a leader in scientific research, collections management, community programs and exhibitions related to natural history and indigenous studies. The Museum’s purpose is ‘to inspire the exploration of nature and cultures’.

Museums play a significant role in building strong and cohesive communities. Accessibility and, hence, participation by people with disability is a key element in achieving social inclusion.

We recognise that around 20% of our community has a long-term disability which means there are more than one million people in New South Wales affected. In terms of our visitors, we already welcome around 64,000 visitors each year who have disability.

The Museum aims to offer equal access to all; whether it is access to services, information, buildings, employment or opportunities to participate in government decision-making.

The Australian Museum - Disability Action Plan 2010-2012 is evidence of our commitment to provide equitable access. The Plan evaluates our current capability and sets out a comprehensive and integrated approach to enhance existing accessibility for visitors, volunteers and staff.

The Museum is pleased to support and contribute to the goals of New South Wales Government in meeting the needs of people with disability.

I wish to thank Alison McLaren and Sancha Donald of Accessible Arts as well as those staff and members of the community with disability who have contributed to the Plan.

I’m pleased to release the Australian Museum – Disability Action Plan 2010-2012. It will enable us to better meet the needs of people with disability and thereby ensure they can fully engage with the Museum and the services it provides.

Frank Howarth, Director

November 2009 

Policy Statement

The Australian Museum will inspire the uninhibited and independent exploration of nature and cultures by people with disability.

The Museum will strive to become a key collaborator and leader in the provision of best practice universal access within the Australian and international arts community. Through a partnership approach to implementing the Australian Museum - Disability Action Plan 2010-2012 the Museum will:

demonstrate a commitment to providing access to existing and future work including, but not limited to programs, services and venues

address access with a holistic approach towards all its important elements - access to services, physical access, access to information, communication about access and attitudinal access.

Access is a priority in front and back of house areas and at all levels of management.

This Plan provides clear guidance regarding actions, responsibilities and timeframes within which the Museum will advance access for staff, visitors and volunteers with disability by June 2012. This Plan demonstrates the first step in a long-term dedication to access which is consistent with the Museum’s values to be egalitarian, fair-minded, innovative, truthful and respectful.

Upon this solid platform, the Australian Museum will develop and promote the principles of social inclusion and equity throughout its exhibitions, programs, services and venues. The Museum recognises that improving access to facilities for people with disability and informing the public about such changes makes good business sense. It is likely to attract more diverse and larger audiences, result in increased customer satisfaction and provide improved design of services and premises for the benefit of all patrons and staff.

Legislative and Policy Context

The context for disability action planning involves legally binding components as well as guiding policy components, at state, federal and international levels.

The Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992 makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person with disability in the provision of access to premises that are open to the public. Not discriminating means more than just allowing anyone to come who wants to come; it’s about improving access and opportunities, as well as removing barriers to goods, services and employment. Disabilities identified by the Disability Discrimination Act include physical, intellectual, psychiatric, sensory, and neurological disabilities, as well as learning difficulties, physical disfigurement, organisms causing or capable of causing disease or illness, or loss of bodily or mental functions that an individual has now, had in the past or may have in the future.

Relevant Commonwealth Government policies are:

  • National Mental Health and Disability Employment Strategy (released September 2009);
  • the National Arts and Disability Strategy (released October 2009); and
  • the upcoming National Disability Strategy.

Under Section 9 of the NSW Disability Services Act 1993, all NSW Government agencies are required to develop Disability Action Plans. The Museum developed its first Disability Action Plan in 2000.

The NSW State Plan, A New Direction for NSW 2006, makes customer satisfaction with services and increased employment participation of people with disabilities key priorities. Specific targets for people with disabilities are:

  • Close the gap in the unemployment rate between people with disability and the overall community by 50% by 2016; and
  • Increase the out of home participation rate of people with a severe or profound disability to at least 85%.

The NSW Government has launched Stronger Together: A new direction for disability services in NSW 2006 -2016 and Better Together: A new direction to make NSW Government services work better for people with a disability and their families: 2007 – 2011. While Stronger Together delivers increases in specialist disability services, Better Together will ensure vital public services such as transport, health, education and housing are better able to meet the needs of people with disability and their families.

Guidelines for disability action planning by NSW Government agencies was published in September 2008 by the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care. The Guidelines identified five outcomes as a basis for planning:

  1. Identify and remove barriers to services
  2. Provide information and services in a range of accessible formats
  3. Make venues and facilities physically accessible
  4. Enable participation in public consultation and on government advisory boards and committees
  5. Increase employment participation of people with a disability.

At the international level, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities advocates that all measures be taken to facilitate “the right of persons with disabilities to take part on an equal basis with others in cultural life” (United Nations, 2006: Article 30). This includes access to cultural materials, activities and places. Article 30 also advocates that states “develop and utilise creative, artistic and intellectual potential [of people with disabilities for the benefit of individuals and the] enrichment of society”.

Perceived Barriers & Needs

A key principle set out in Better Together is that Government services to people with disability are provided in three tiers — universal services, adapted services and specialist services. The Museum delivers ‘universal services’ only and these are defined as ‘mainstream services accessed by large numbers of people with disability’.

Based on a review of the achievements of the Museum’s Disability Action Plan 2000, key areas for further improvement have been identified. The access barriers and needs of people with disability are set out below under the five outcome areas identified in the Guidelines.

Outcome 1: Identify and remove barriers to services.

Barriers to services means that the design, implementation or delivery of these services does not meet the needs of people with disability. Solutions could include redesign of the service, its implementation or delivery and training for staff to be aware of the needs of people with disability and to assist them gain access to services. Outcome 1 also envisages that the identification of barriers is repeated at appropriate intervals.

Some staff expressed a lack of confidence in their ability to serve and meet the needs of people with disability be they visitors or staff. There is also some misperception by some staff regarding the abilities, capacity and potential of many people with disability in the workplace. Improving disability awareness for staff and management would mean the Museum is better able to serve the needs of those with disability. (Actions 1.1 and 1.2)

Staff with disability indicated that they can’t access the full range of services the Museum offers to staff. Aural access and communication is sometimes difficult in both front and back of house areas of the Museum for staff with disability. For example, staff with low hearing find it difficult to follow meetings or training in some meeting rooms. (Actions 1.3 & 1.4) However, new office spaces provide improved access in many areas of the Museum.

Visitors with low hearing have identified that the ground floor of the Barnett Wing which accommodates the main entry and exit, admissions desk, shop and café is extremely noisy. This is due to the height of the heritage ceilings, hard surfaces and the numbers using the spaces. This makes communication difficult and detracts from an enjoyable experience in these spaces. Actions that could mitigate noise levels would need to take account of heritage issues but are worth exploring. (Action 1.5)

The Museum already offers many tactile opportunities which meet the needs of people with a range of disabilities including Autism or intellectual disability. There is however limited description of exhibition content, particularly audio description for people with low vision. People with learning difficulties would also benefit from audio guides reducing the need to engage with written interpretive materials. People who are deaf or have low vision prefer a variety of avenues for communication of and engagement with exhibition content. Taking greater account of accessibility issues in the development and design of new exhibitions, whether they are temporary or permanent is indicated. (Action 1.6) Auslan interpretation, captioning and audio description of tours and audio materials is needed. (Action 1.7)

Furthermore, people with disability, as well as broader audiences, enjoy interactive and new media displays that enable improved engagement. However, where three dimensional effects are used, people with low vision are unable to experience the full effect. Therefore, use of such features needs to be considered carefully and competing objectives balanced. (Action 1.8)

Visitor and Learning Services staff are often required to educate students or visitors with a range of disabilities that need specific communication styles. Staff identified the need for additional training and resources to assist them in delivering quality programs to people of all abilities. As well, the Museum delivers services offsite via outreach programs and touring exhibitions and some service delivery is undertaken by partners. Both staff and partners need information and support resources that will allow them to make sure such services are accessible when delivery is offsite. Information and general disability awareness materials need to be incorporated in packages provided to partners. (Actions 1.9, 1.10 & 1.11)

Atmospheric sound in exhibitions can enhance sensory experiences for people with disability however, it can also result in confusion or disorientation for people with disabilities, especially people who are blind. As a result, the use of this technique needs careful consideration and competing objectives balanced. Factors needing consideration include the interaction of one atmospheric sound with others either from the same or other exhibitions and interaction of atmospheric sound with background noise. Where sounds and noise are not managed well, access is reduced for people with low hearing. (Action 1.12)

Interpretive information in temporary and permanent exhibition spaces need to be improved if people of all heights and people who have reduced vision are to be able to gain maximum benefit from their educative content. Current interpretive information and labels indicate a partial understanding of the needs of people with disability who participate in Museum activities or visit exhibitions. (Action 1.13)

The height and position of exhibition items, displays and interpretative information also needs to recognise the needs of people with disability, especially those in wheelchairs. The height, angle and positioning can make it difficult for people of various heights to access exhibitions. This can impact on people using wheelchairs, people of short stature as well as other key audiences such as children. People using wheelchairs for example, may need space underneath displays, interactives or interpretative information in order to move close enough to appreciate and engage with them. (Action 1.14) Feedback regarding these matters should be included in the planning, design and development of future exhibitions and refurbishment of existing exhibitions. (included in Action 1.6)

Actions that aim to address these barriers and needs are set out under Outcome 1 of the Disability Action Plan.

Outcome 2: Provide information and services in a range of accessible formats.

Many people who are blind or have low vision, as well as older people, appreciate large print and tactile versions of key information such as wayfinding maps identifying how to make your way around the Museum. (Actions 2.1 & 2.2). People who are blind, have low vision, learning difficulties and intellectual disabilities also appreciate audio recordings of information that can be accessed once at the Museum. (Action 2.3)

As audio recordings, audio description, captioning and large print versions are often established by other museums, the Australian Museum needs to include access materials in checklists completed prior to buying or selling exhibitions. (Action 2.4) Where computers are provided as part of the Museum’s exhibitions or programs, screen reader software is required by people who are blind. (Action 2.5)

As the Museum is renewing its commitment to access with the development of this Plan, it is critical to establish partnerships with other cultural institutions that have established knowledge and resources around the delivery of access provisions and services in the arts in order to fast track progress at the Museum. (Action 2.6)

People with disability, as well as some staff at the Museum, lack confidence and knowledge about access services offered throughout all areas of the Museum’s business. A multidimensional approach to improved communication would assist in greater confidence and awareness. (Action 2.7)

People with disability may lack an understanding about the interesting and exciting items included in exhibitions unless information in suitable formats is better distributed and more widely available. (Action 2.8)

The design of the Museum’s Explore magazine, a key communication avenue, needs review to ensure it fully meets accessible print and publication guidelines. (Action 2.9)

The new Australian Museum web site complies with W3C Web Accessibility Initiative Guidelines. However, as all web sites change and grow over time, the Museum will need to ensure the site’s compliance is maintained. This includes ensuring that all PDFs are accessible for people who use screen readers and that staff who manage content have the necessary knowledge and skills. (Actions 2.10 and 2.11)

Access information is provided on the Museum’s web site however, this needs to be expanded to enable relevant information for people of all abilities. This will also work to better reflect the amount of access services that the Museum does offer. (Action 2.12)

Actions that aim to address these barriers and needs are set out under Outcome 2 of the Disability Action Plan.

Outcome 3: Make venues and facilities physically accessible.

Outcome 3 relates to physical access to venues and facilities. For the purposes of this Plan this includes fixtures and furnishings as well as the buildings and building related services.

The Museum has a Site Master Plan that provides a vision for the future development of the site. The Master Plan recognises access issues; however it will be important that actions from the Disability Action Plan are thoroughly incorporated into the Master Plan. This could include making specific reference to accessible parking, access beyond current minimum standards and renovation of the Atrium to enable independent access for all people. (Action 3.1)

A professional and accredited access consultant would provide greater insight and ensure seamless accessible design across Museum projects. While the Museum is relying on current standards these provide minimum access and are consistently changing. The Museum needs to be planning ahead of time with expert advice if design decisions now are to last well into the future (Action 3.2).

Currently, the main and accessible entries to the Museum are separate with the accessible entry on William Street and the main entry for able visitors on College Street. For greater equity and improved ease of traffic flow, a single main accessible entry to the Museum is required. (Action 3.3) The Museum has begun planning for such an entry which would involve major renovations to heritage buildings.

While the accessible entry is signed, the Museum has received complaints from people using wheelchairs, people with limited mobility as well as people using prams that the directions to the accessible entrance are not clear. The sign requires revision to eliminate this confusion. (Action 3.4)

Currently the Museum enables people with limited mobility to book accessible parking in a driveway off College Street that leads to the accessible entrance. This provides only limited parking (2-3 vehicles) and has inadequate turning space. This parking may be lost under the proposed single accessible entry; although drop-off and pick-up of people with disability may be able to be incorporated in the design. (Included in Action 3.3) Alternative parking and access therefore needs to be identified in the Site Master Plan. (Included in Action 3.1) One possibility could be additional on-street accessible parking spaces near and around the Museum. (Action 3.5)

There is currently an accessible toilet on Level 2 of the Museum which appears to meet current standards however, it is three levels removed from the accessible entrance. There is no accessible toilet on the Ground Level of the Museum. For improved access and practicality, an accessible toilet is required on the Ground Level and preferably in or close to the Atrium which is the main point of visitor orientation. (Action 3.6)

The Museum’s public areas are made up five buildings constructed over 175 years and with differing floor levels linked by ramps or sloping floors. The Ground Level is made up of three different levels linked by sloping floors. In the Atrium the combination of the gradient and carpet are such that people using wheelchairs can’t move between levels independently. In the near term this carpet should be replaced with a more suitable covering. (Action 3.7) In the longer term the elimination of the slope may be considered under the Site Master Plan. (included in Action 3.1)

It was observed that people using wheelchairs can’t move easily and independently between the gondolas and displays in the shop. Ease of movement around displays may also be an issue in exhibitions, particularly when crowded, unless considered during exhibition design. Action to address such barriers to services could also improve circulation generally. (Action 3.8)

People with low vision are likely to collide with protruding exhibition items that are not of appropriate contrast. Additional contrast would assist people in finding their way around exhibition items and through exhibitions spaces. Contrasting doorways are an important feature in this regard. (Actions 3.9)

People with limited mobility, as well as general visitors, need increased rest areas throughout the Museum, particularly where Museum items may include programs or interactive displays that engage visitors for longer periods of time. (Actions 3.10)

People with low vision also experience difficulty where lighting levels are low or where there are hot spots of lighting that use high glare bulbs. Such people have difficulty navigating exhibition spaces and interpreting signage. (Action 3.11) Further, various building elements (eg door frames, walls and floors), fixtures and fittings would be more visible to people with low vision if there was more contrast between them. (Action 3.12)

Volunteers, new staff and visitors to the Museum can experience difficulty finding their way through back of house areas, particularly in fire stairs that can be disorientating. The Wayfinding system which was recently installed serves part, but not all, of the Museum’s site which consists of 13 buildings. Wayfinding for staff and back of house visitors with disability needs to be addressed through a consistent approach across the entire site and complements the existing wayfinding in front of house areas. (Action 3.13)

People using larger wheelchairs such as scooters also find access to the Bird and Insect gallery difficult as the current ramp is narrow and difficult to negotiate (Action 3.14).

While not the direct responsibility of the Museum, it is noted that unless outreach and touring exhibition venues are accessible, some potential participants will not have access to the Museum’s outreach programs and services. (Action 3.15)

Actions that aim to address these barriers and needs are set out under Outcome 3 of the Disability Action Plan.

Outcome 4: Enable participation in public consultation and on government advisory boards and committees.

Currently the Museum consults with people with specific disabilities on an infrequent basis. Opportunities for consultation on a more regular basis and with people with a broader variety of disabilities are required. Such consultation should include anonymous and face-to-face processes. In addition to staff and visitors with disability, consultation regarding all projects throughout the Museum needs to incorporate the advice of a professional access consultant. (Action 4.1)

Some people with disability are unlikely to visit the Museum as a result of having to ask too many questions prior to their visit and/or due to difficult previous experiences at a range of cultural institutions and the nature of their access requirements. The Museum could benefit from consulting such non-visitors. Consultation with people with disability needs to include options for gathering feedback from such non-visitors as well. (Action 4.2)

An internal Disability Action Plan Steering Committee will be established to assist in driving the implementation of the Plan throughout all areas of the Museum’s business. To ensure the success and integrity of the Committee, its members should include representatives of the Museum’s management and a staff member who experiences disability. (Action 4.3)

Currently there is no clear pathway for the collation of all feedback regarding access to the Museum and its services. Feedback is dispersed throughout the Museum’s practices andorganisational units. In order to improve reporting and knowledge about progress towards improved access throughout the implementation of this Plan, procedures that collate positive and negative feedback regarding access to the Museum is needed on an annual basis. (Action 4.4)

It was found that the Museum has only limited data on the number of people with disability who visit and/or participate in Museum programs. Through improved consultation and data collection, the Museum can better plan its services to increase their accessibility. Better data is also required for effective monitoring of audience responses to improvements in accessibility in all its aspects. (Action 4.5)

Actions that aim to address these barriers and needs are set out under Outcome 4 of the Disability Action Plan.

Outcome 5: Increase employment participation of people with disability.

Priority F2 of the State Plan requires all NSW Government agencies to increase participation of people with disability not only through community activities and programs, but also through employment.

Many people with disability experience barriers to gaining employment in the arts industry. Such people need encouragement to apply for employment. The Museum’s current practice in advertising positions could be improved by communicating that the Museum is an inclusive workplace (Action 5.1).

The current recorded number of Museum staff with a disability is less than 2% which is lower than the community average of around 20% and is therefore likely to be substantially incorrect. Further, the Museum has a significant proportion of staff and volunteers with 10 years or more employment. Some of these are likely to have acquired disabilities since they joined the Museum. A more accurate record is needed if the Museum is to address the needs of existing staff with disability. An annual and anonymous survey would provide a more accurate record at the organisational level which can then be reported in the Annual Report and used as a basis for planning. (Action 5.2) The survey should also invite individual staff to request workplace adjustments if required.

Actions that aim to address these barriers and needs are set out under Outcome 5 of the Disability Action Plan.

Disability Action Plan

A key policy principle set out in Better Together is that Government services to people with disability are provided in three tiers — universal services, adapted services and specialist services. The Museum delivers ‘universal services’ only and these are defined as ‘mainstream services accessed by large numbers of people with disability’.

The Museum’s Action Plan aim follows the five outcomes required for universal services as set out in Guidelines for disability action planning by NSW Government agencies:

  1. Identify and remove barriers to services
  2. Provide information and services in a range of accessible formats
  3. Make venues and facilities physically accessible
  4. Enable active and meaningful consultation with people with disability including advisory boards and committees
  5. Increase employment participation of people with disability.

Improving access, in all its dimensions, is an ongoing commitment for the Museum. This Plan represents a staged approach to realising full access for people with disability in the long-term. Where this Plan does not entirely address specific access barriers and needs, the Museum is committed to ensuring that future Plans will continue to address these matters and significant progress towards the elimination of these issues will be made in the interim.

Outcome 1: Identify and remove barriers to services.

Action Target Responsibility Timeframe (Cost Ranking)
1.1 Deliver Disability Awareness Training (including wayfinding techniques) for staff at all levels of management and service delivery in front and back of house. All staff & volunteers are capable of assisting other staff and visitors in finding and accessing Museum services. Manager, Human Resources By December 2010 (Low cost)
1.2 Incorporate Disability Awareness Training into induction procedures for permanent, casual and contracted staff including a tour of access services and provisions throughout the Museum. Induction procedures have been revised

 

All new staff can provide attitudinal access [2] for visitors, volunteers and staff with disability and are aware of the location of access services and facilities.

 

Manager, Human Resources By June 2010 (No cost) Ongoing (No cost)
1.3 Install assistive listening devices in front and back of house. Theatre & Boardroom Other priority areas (meeting rooms, Library and function spaces)

 

Other areas of the Museum

 

Visitors and staff with disability are able to use assistive listening devices in all front and back of house areas.

 

Manager, Building & Security Services By June 2010 (Funds available) By June 2012[3] (High cost) To be confirmed
Footnotes
  1. While the cost of actions cannot be known at this planning stage, preliminary and indicative cost rankings have been included as a guide and have been defined as follows. No cost = self explanatory. Low cost = <$20,000. Medium cost = > $20,000 but < $100,000. High Cost = > $100,000
  2. Attitudinal access describes the delivery of service by staff who respond appropriately and are welcoming of visitors and other staff with disability. Where attitudinal access isn’t provided, people with disability are made to feel different, unwelcome or simply a burden or over serviced by staff. This results in a feeling that they would not like to return.
  3. Subject to funding by government under the Museum’s Total Asset Management Plan
1.4 Establish and implement a policy ensuring that a microphone is used at all meetings. Staff and guests with low hearing attending meetings and functions at the Museum will gain improved access to content. Director By December 2009 (Low cost)
1.5 Install sound proofing panels in the café, bistro and shop to reduce noise, enabling access for people with low hearing. Complaints regarding noise levels are reduced to 5 per annum. Manager, Building & Security Services By June 2012 (Medium cost)
1.6 Adjust the Review Process in the Exhibitions Strategy to ensure access issues and solutions are thoroughly evaluated. Feedback regarding access to exhibitions for people with disabilities improves over time; ultimately reaching 90% positive feedback. Head, Exhibitions & Creative Services By June 2010 (Medium cost)
1.7 Provide Auslan-interpreted tours upon request and communicate this in access information. The Australian Museum will gain further visitors from the Deaf community. Head, Visitor Services & Programs By December 2010 (Low cost)
1.8 Ensure that audiovisual materials in new exhibitions and programs are captioned and audio described. People who are deaf and blind are able to access audiovisual materials at the Museum. Head, Exhibitions & Creative Services and Visitor Services and Programs. By June 2012 (Medium cost)
1.9 Refresh audio description training for all visitor programs and education staff. Visitor programs and services staff are able to provide a full and rich experience for visitors and students who are blind or have low vision. Head, Visitor Programs and Services By June 2011 (Medium cost) (Low cost)
1.10 Secure or develop fact sheets about educational techniques for students and visitors with specific disabilities. Work with Autism Spectrum Australia to develop a fact sheet for educators on learning techniques for people with Aspergers or Autism. Make fact sheets available to educators, visitor services, front of house and bookings office staff Investigate appropriate examples employed at other cultural institutions Australian Museum staff and partners delivering educational activities are equipped to enable effective learning for people and students with a range of disabilities. Head, Visitor Programs & Services By June 2010 (Medium cost) By December 2010 (Low cost)
1.11 Provide Disability Awareness Training materials, including the above fact sheets, in information packs offered to partner organisations participating in Science Communication’s outreach programs. Australian Museum educating partners feel confident to communicate with and teach students with disability. Manager, Science Communication By December 2010 (Low cost)
1.12 Undertake sound assessments of each exhibition space ensuring that atmospheric sounds do not interfere with one another resulting in confusion and difficulty for people with low hearing and/or vision. Incorporate results into planning and design of future exhibitions. Atmospheric sounds are clear adding to the experience for visitors who are blind or have low vision and clarify content of the exhibitions rather than confuse content. No sounds overlap or interfere with one another. Head, Exhibitions and Creative Services By December 2012 (High cost)
1.13 Update and improve interpretive information in all exhibition spaces ensuring they are engaging and provided at the appropriate angle, height, contrast, colour and they are well lit enabling access for people of all heights and people with low vision. Ensure the results of this process are reflected in the Museum's Style Guide. Labels are placed in a consistent position in relation to displays throughout the Museum. Feedback through evaluation by older visitors and visitors with low vision is at least 75% positive. The Style Guide provides an example of best practice for interpretive signage in Museums. Head, Exhibitions & Creative Services By June 2012 (High cost) By December 2010 (Low cost)
1.14 Consult with people using wheelchairs and people of short stature regarding the positioning of and access to exhibition items and interpretative information. Ensure they are accessible, incorporating areas underneath displays for people using wheelchairs to move closer to the item. Include feedback in planning and design of future exhibitions and prepare for refurbishment of permanent exhibitions. Anaudience evaluation of all exhibitions items receives 90% positive feedback by people using wheelchairs and people of short stature. Heads, Exhibitions & Creative Services By June, 2011 (Medium cost)

Outcome 2: Provide information and services in a range of accessible formats.

Action Target Responsibility Timeframe (Cost Ranking) [4]
2.1 Enlarge the A4 version of the current map to A3. Make large print catalogues of labels and maps of the Museum available upon request. Make available small clip on lamps for people with low vision. Visitors with low vision are able to navigate and access interpretive materials provided throughout the Museum. Manager, Visitor Services From January 2010 (Low cost) From January 2011 (Low cost)
2.2 Procure 5 tactile maps of the Museum for loan to visitors who are blind. In consultation with relevant user groups, investigate strategies for more independent wayfinding for those who are blind. Visitors who are blind gain improved independent wayfinding around the Museum. Manager, Visitor Services Head, Exhibitions & Creative Services By June 2010 (Low cost) By December 2010 (Low cost)
2.3 Establish an audio recording for each exhibition area that is available for download as an MP3 on the Museum’s web site and in the Atrium near admissions. Visitors with low vision, dyslexia, Aspergers, intellectual disability and people from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse backgrounds gain access to interpretation of exhibitions. Head, Exhibitions & Creative Services Trial in one exhibition by December 2010 (Medium cost)
  1. While the cost of actions cannot be known at this planning stage, preliminary and indicative cost rankings have been included as a guide and are defined as follows. No cost = self explanatory. Low cost = <$20,000. Medium cost = > $20,000 but < $100,000. High Cost = > $100,000
2.4 When considering the purchase of exhibitions, consider the inclusion of access materials (eg large print catalogues, audio description, audio guides and captioned videos) as a highly desirable factor. Ensure such information is available for other partners procuring such exhibitions from the Museum. Access to exhibitions will be provided at a lower cost and with less replication. Head, Exhibitions & Creative Services. By September 2010 (Low cost)
2.5 Install DAISY screen reader software on at least one computer (where computers are provided) in each public area of the Museum e.g. Search and Discover. Visitors with low vision gain access to online content and educational programs and content. Heads, Visitor Programs & Services By December 2011 (Medium cost)
2.6 Establish access partnerships across all areas of the Museum with appropriate organisations and through key initiatives (e.g. Library partnership with the Smithsonian Museum to enable access for Australian Museum visitors including people with profound disabilities to digital collections of rare books). The Australian Museum improves access as a result of learning from other experts in their field and as a result increases the quality of visitor experience. This is reflected by positive evaluations by disability groups facilitated by Audience Research. Director By December 2011 (Low cost)

 

2.7 Communicate the Museum’s access achievements externally and internally including, but not limited to:
  • undertake targeted marketing of access services and tours to people with disability and organisations supporting them;
  • acknowledge staff who have made a significant contribution to accessibility and/or who have contributed to the implementation of the Disability Action Plan.
Visitors and staff will be aware and feel more confident of the Museum’s achievements for people with disability. Visitors with disability will increase by 15% over three years. Assistant Director, Public Programs & Operations Manager, Marketing and Publicity Assistant Director, Public Programs & Operations From January 2010 (Medium cost) From January 2010 (No cost)
2.8 Provide information about exhibitions and their content:
  • on the Australian Museum web site;
  • through a communication hub near the information desk on an electronic touch screen (a map of the Museum could also be included in this communication hub).
  •  
People with and without disability gain a greater awareness about what exhibitions are on offer at the Australian Museum and 80% of feedback through comments and exit surveys is positive. Head, Exhibitions & Creative Services By December 2010 (Medium cost)
2.9 Ensure Explore magazine meets accessibility standards (eg minimum of 12 point sans serif (or 13 point simple serif or serif font such as Garamond); avoiding red and precluding low contrast background and foreground colours such as yellow on orange. Annual surveys on the accessibility of Explore finds that 75% of people with low vision rate Explore as accessible. Executive Officer, Australian Museum Members and Manager, Marketing & Publicity

 

From December 2009 (Low cost)
2.10 Ensure web content remains accessible. All content available via the website is accessible for people using screen readers. Manager, Web From January 2010 (Low cost)
2.11 Ensure staff who manage web content have the knowledge and skills to do so to meet the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative Guidelines. Annual sampling of the Australian Museum web site by people who are blind or have low vision show that the site offers 100% access for people using screen readers. Manager, Web From June, 2010 (Low cost)
2.12 Include information about access services and programs (including the number of wheelchairs and rest seats available for hire) in an easy to navigate location, directly from the home page on the Australian Museum web site and link directly to and from information about discounted ticketing and Companion Card information on the admissions page of the web site. Visitors to the Australian Museum web site are aware of access services and programs and subsequently visit the Museum. Head, Exhibitions & Creative Services By June 2010 (Low cost)

Outcome 3: Make venues and facilities physically accessible.

Action Target Responsibility Timeframe (Cost Ranking) [5]
3.1 Revise the Site Master Plan to include:

 

  • onsite accessible car parking spaces as well as an accessible pick-up and drop-off location
  • access provisions beyond current standards enabling current and future access for people of all abilities
  • renovations to the Ground Level that eliminate the slope in the Atrium.
  •  
The Site Master Plan is consistent with the Disability Action Plan and is approved by a professional access auditor. Director By December, 2010 (Medium cost)
3.2 As required and at appropriate stages of capital projects and exhibitions, engage a professional access auditor to advise the project team. New assets go beyond current standards and provide effective access for visitors and staff with disability today and into the future. New assets meet appropriate standards for accessibility. Director From April, 2010 (Medium cost)
  1. While the cost of actions cannot be known at this planning stage, preliminary and indicative cost rankings have been included as a guide and have been defined as follows. No cost = self explanatory. Low cost = <$20,000. Medium cost = > $20,000 but < $100,000. High Cost = > $100,000
3.3 Secure funding to construct a single entry to the Museum that is accessible for all visitors. Consider drop-off facilities for people with disability in the design of any single accessible entry Funds are secured to construct a single main entry to the Museum that is accessible for all visitors between 2012 and 2015. Director By June, 2012 (High cost)
3.4 Install signage that provides clear directions to the Museum’s accessible entrance. Consider signage at the bottom of William Street entrance steps, the Director’s drive and the main College St entrance. By June 2010, no more than 1% of all feedback to the Museum regarding the wheelchair accessible entrance is negative. Executive Officer, Public Programs & Operations By May, 2010 (Low cost)
3.5 Work in partnership with the City of Sydney’s Inclusion Officer to establish accessible car parking and safe pick-up and drop-off locations on streets surrounding the Museum. Visitors with disability are able to gain improved ease of access to the Museum. Manager, Building & Security Services By December, 2010 (Low cost)
3.6 Assess the accessible toilet on Level Two to ensure that it meets current standards and is maintained effectively. Construct a unisex accessible toilet on the Ground Floor which meets current standards including automatic doors. The existing accessible toilet on Level Two is maintained effectively and meets current standards. An accessible toilet is available on the ground floor and receives positive evaluation by an access auditor. Manager, Building & Security Services Director By June 2010 (Low cost) By November, 2012 (High cost)
3.7 Replace the carpet in the Atrium with a durable surface that will enable independent access for people using wheelchairs. People using wheelchairs are able to negotiate the ramp in the Atrium. Manager, Building & Security Services By June, 2011 (Medium cost)
3.8 Develop a checklist of accessibility requirements for new exhibitions and temporary placement of fixtures and furniture in all areas to enable independent access for people using wheelchairs (including the shop). People using a wheelchair are able to access all areas including exhibitions, shop and eating areas without assistance from staff or companions to move temporary displays or stands out of the way. Head, Commercial Services, Head, Exhibitions & Creative Services and Manager, Building & Security Services By June 2010 (Medium cost)
3.9 Inspect new exhibitions to ensure any items that protrude into visitor pathways are contrasting. People with low vision are able to navigate exhibitions Head, Exhibitions & Creative Services From January 2010 (Low cost)
3.10 Ensure adequate and appropriate placement of rest seating in exhibition spaces. There is one rest seating area per space (at an appropriate height with optional arm rests). Head, Exhibitions & Creative Services By June 2012 (Medium cost)
3.11 Investigate and, where necessary, provide consistent and low glare functional lighting for exhibition spaces and signage People with low vision are able to view exhibitions and utilise the wayfinding system. Head, Exhibitions & Creative Services By November 2011 (Medium cost)
3.12 Investigate and, where appropriate, introduce consistent use of contrast between building elements, fixtures and fittings. People with low vision are able to navigate the Museum between exhibition spaces independently and are able to find their way out of the Museum in the case of fire. Manager, Building & Security Services By June 2012 (High cost)
3.13 Include clear wayfinding signage in back of house areas across the entire Museum site for the safety and convenience of new staff, visitors and volunteers. New staff, visitors and volunteers take part in an independent trial that identifies that they are able to find their way around the Museum without getting disorientated and are able to find their way out of the Museum in the case of fire or emergency. Manager, Building & Security Services By November, 2011 (High cost)
3.14 Undertake a professional access audit of the ramp to the Bird and Insect gallery (Lewis Wing) and secure funds for renovations to ensure that it is beyond current standards by June 2014. Access audit completed to identify scope of work required People using larger wheelchairs including scooters are able to access the Bird and Insect exhibition by June 2014. Director By June, 2010 (Medium cost) By June 2014 (High cost)
3.15 Consider accessibility of services and venues when identifying partners and venues for outreach programs and touring exhibitions. Partners delivering outreach programs and touring exhibitions provide equitable access for people with disability in line with the Museum’s practices. Head, Visitor Programs & Services and Head, Exhibitions & Creative Services From January 2010(No cost)

Outcome 4: Enable participation in public consultation and on government advisory boards and committees.

Action Target Responsibility Timeframe (Cost Ranking) [6]
4.1 Establish an access consultation process for the development of significant projects including public programs, exhibitions and capital works. Consultation should include:
  • evaluation by a broad group of people representing all disabilities on a regular and strategic basis
  • consultation with front of house, visitor services and education staff regarding access for visitors with disabilities
  • the strategic engagement of a professional access consultant at key stages in the development of significant projects.
  •  
The following groups are engaged in consultation about significant projects at the Museum:

 

  • support units and specialised schools
  • Department of Education and Training Disability Support Staff
  • staff and volunteers who work directly with the public
  • a broad range of individuals and groups representing all disabilities (as defined in the Disability Discrimination Act)
  • staff with disability
  • a professional access auditor.
Head, Exhibitions & Creative Services and Head, Visitor Programs & Services By December, 2010 (Low cost)
4.2 Provide a clear opportunity for feedback regarding access to the Museum on the web site in a key position linked to access information. People with disability gain the opportunity to provide anonymous feedback regarding access to the Museum online. Head, Exhibitions & Creative Services By June, 2010 (Low cost)
Footnote
  1. While the cost of actions cannot be known at this planning stage, preliminary and indicative cost rankings have been included as a guide and have been defined as follows. No cost = self explanatory. Low cost = <$20,000. Medium cost = > $20,000 but < $100,000. High Cost = > $100,000
4.3 Establish a Steering Committee to oversee the implementation of the Disability Action Plan. Members of the Committee will include a representative of the Museum’s management and at least one staff member with disability. The Disability Steering Committee is made up of members that are dedicated to implementing the Plan and offer integrity, authenticity and honest leadership throughout the process. Assistant Director, Public Programs & Operations. By January, 2010 (Low cost)
4.4 Prepare an annual report to the Disability Action Plan Steering Committee which collates and analyses all comments regarding all aspects of accessibility that have been gathered through existing and future feedback processes. The views of people providing feedback regarding all aspects of accessibility to the Museum are meaningfully recorded and collected for review by the Disability Action Plan Steering Committee. Manager, Audience Research and Manager, Marketing By June, 2010 (ongoing) (Low cost)
4.5 Annually estimate the number of visitors to the Museum with disability and evaluate their responses regarding all aspects of accessibility by:
  • recording the number of disability groups who book visits;
  • sampling of visitors with disability at admissions for three, three-week periods throughout the year;
  • undertake an annual survey of disability groups regarding their attendance and on allaspects of the Museum’s accessibility.
An estimate of the number of visitors with disability to the Museum and their responses regarding all aspects of accessibility is included in the Annual Report. The Museum sees an increase in visitation and/or an increase in positive feedback to the improvements made under this Disability Action Plan. Manager, Audience Research By June, 2010 (Low cost)

Outcome 5: Increase employment participation of people with disability.

Action Target Responsibility Timeframe (Cost Ranking) [7]
5.1 Promote an inclusive culture at the Museum by including positive statements in job advertisements and information packages that encourage people with disability to apply. An increase in the number of job applicants with disability. Manager, Human Resources From January, 2009 (Low cost)
5.2 Conduct an annual anonymous survey that records the number and needs of staff and volunteers with disability. An accurate record is obtained of the number and needs of staff and volunteers with disability and is reported in the Annual Report. Workplace adjustments are identified and addressed Manager, Human Resources Manager, Building and Security Services and other Managers depending on the nature of the adjustment By June, 2010 (Low cost) From July 2010 (Medium cost)
Footnote
  1. While the cost of actions cannot be known at this planning stage, preliminary and indicative cost rankings have been included as a guide and have been defined as follows. No cost = self explanatory. Low cost = <$20,000. Medium cost = > $20,000 but < $100,000. High Cost = > $100,000

Appendix A: Overview of Functions and Services

The purpose of the Australian Museum is to inspire the exploration of nature and cultures. The Museum has a vision for a beautiful and sustainable natural world with vibrant and diverse cultures. The Museum has five goals:

  • To build a ‘time series’ of objects defining our natural and cultural world
  • To unlock and share the knowledge in our natural and cultural connections
  • To ignite enthusiasm for the skills that explorers and collectors use
  • To find new connections across nature, culture and our lives
  • To capture the imagination of the young, the old and all those in between.

The Museum also works with an approach that respects the following values:

  • Egalitarian and fair minded
  • Willing to use humour and not take ourselves too seriously
  • Inquisitive and explorative
  • Creative and innovative
  • Truthful and authoritative
  • Outgoing
  • Respectful of the rights and views of others
  • Engaged in a dialogue with all our audiences.

Throughout the Museum’s work including purpose, vision, goals and values, access for and engagement of staff, visitors and volunteers with disability will be recognised as critically important to enable social inclusion in all areas of business.

Functions

The Australian Museum is a leader in research, collections management, community programs and exhibitions related to natural history and indigenous studies. The concept of ‘contemporary relevance and historic depth’ underpins the Museum’s purpose ‘to inspire the exploration of nature and cultures.’

The Australian Museum was founded in 1827 as the Colonial or Sydney Museum and is Australia’s first museum. The Museum acquired its current name in June 1836 and opened to the public at its current location in May 1857.

The Australian Museum is a statutory body established under the Australian Museum Trust Act 1975. The Trust consists of 11 members one of whom must have knowledge of, or experience in, science, another whom must have knowledge of, or experience in, education and another whom must have knowledge of, or experience in, Australian Indigenous culture. The objects of the Act are:

to propagate knowledge about the natural environment of Australia and to increase that knowledge, particularly in the natural sciences of biology, anthropology and geology’

The Museum is principally funded by the NSW government operating with the Department of the Arts, Sport and Recreation.

Services

The Museum delivers three main services to clients and stakeholders:

  • collection management - the Museum maintains and develops the largest natural history and cultural collections in Australia with over 16 million registered items or lots covering invertebrate and vertebrate zoology, mineralogy and palaeontology, and anthropology from Australia and the Pacific region through curatorial and Indigenous programs
  • scientific research- the Museum undertakes scientific research on its collection of objects and in the field to expand our understanding of the biota and Indigenous cultures of Australia and the Pacific region through knowledge generation and communication
  • public programs - the Museum presents a wide array of exhibitions, public and educational programs and events - onsite, offsite and online to raise community awareness of the biota and Indigenous cultures of Australia and the Pacific region.

The Museum’s main customers are:

  • the community of NSW, which benefits from our public programs and research, and seeks knowledge and understanding of our cultural and natural worlds
  • NSW Government agencies, which rely on our knowledge of our cultural and natural worlds.

In collaboration with other museums, the Australian Museum reaches audiences across Australia and New Zealand with touring exhibitions. In collaboration with other scientific research institutions in Australia and internationally, the Museum contributes to our knowledge of our natural and cultural worlds. In addition, the Museum’s web site reaches an international audience.

Our key stakeholders are the NSW Government and organisations engaged in natural resources management or working with Indigenous cultures. Other important stakeholders include:

  • visitors from Australia and overseas
  • donors, sponsors and partners, and Australian Museum Members
  • our volunteers and our staff.

Appendix B: Planning Context

Customer Profile

The Australian Museum visitor profile is made up of visitors to permanent exhibitions, visitors to temporary exhibitions, children attending holiday programs, school groups visiting the Museum, students participating in outreach services such as Science Communication and people attending Member’s events. The total number of visitors with disability who participated in Museum activities for the financial year of 2007-2008 is 332, 622. A ten year history of complete visitor numbers is provided below.

People with disability participate in the Museum as independent visitors, through group bookings, outreach education programs, school group visits and audience research and evaluation initiatives. Staff have estimated that whilst 20 per cent of Australia’s population experiences disability, a total of 1 per cent of visitors to the Museum experience disability. However, data has not been collected systematically in the past and this matter is addressed via actions provided in the Plan above.

In addition to the 20 per cent of Australian’s with disability, 2.6 million people care for people with disabilities as family, friends and companions. Additionally, 650 million people across the globe identify as persons with disabilities. This means that by improving access, the Museum is not only improving access to a further 20 per cent of potential visitors, it is also increasing access for their families and friends and a great number of international citizens who would also secure admissions to the Museum. Finally, as the population ages, the prevalence of disability will increase in both the Membership of the Museum and the broader community. As a result, access will become even more critical to maintain existing visitors as well as in attracting future visitors.

Table 1:Total number of visitors to the Australian Museum for the year ending 30 June.

2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
262,982 262,954 243,521 364,326 283,432 336,334 297,001 317,677 332,622 321,954

Staff Profile

The Museum is made up of a team of highly skilled and long-term employees providing responsive and innovative service and research in the areas of natural science research, exhibitions and creative services, visitor programming and learning services, online content, audience research, awards, membership services, library services, communications, and management of the Museum including facilities and delivery of planning, policy and coordination.

In the 2007 / 2008 financial year, 3 of the 237 staff were reported to experience a disability. This means that 1.26 per cent of staff at the Museum have a disability. This figure is low. However, conversations with staff and consideration of aging volunteers that make a significant contribution to the Museum identifies that the number of staff and volunteers with disability engaged by the Museum could be a lot higher. Further recording and reporting of these statistics is required. Actions provided in this plan provide an insight into how the Australian Museum will work to increase this figure and to ensure that staff and volunteers with disability gain full access to actively participate in the workplace.

Services and Facilities Currently Available at the Museum for people with a disability

The Australian Museum offers a range of features to assist visitors with specific needs in accessing and enjoying the Museum’s venues, exhibitions and collections. Free parking is available for people with disabilities or their carers at the College Street entrance to the building. Bookings must be made at least two days in advance, as the number of spaces is limited. Support workers and carers of people with disabilities are also admitted free to the Museum as the Museum is an affiliate of the Companion Card. Ramp access to the Museum is available at the William Street entrance. The accessible entrance to the Australian Museum includes automatic doors and all public areas of the Museum and exhibition levels can be accessed via ramps and lifts. The main lift is currently being upgraded and will become a more reliable access point for visitors using wheelchairs. Two wheelchairs and portable rest seats are available to visitors to the Museum and can be borrowed free from the Admissions Desk upon request. An accessible toilet is located on Level 2, close to the lifts in the Search and Discover section.

Tours may be booked to assist visitors with specific needs to make the most of their time in the Museum. Visitor programs staff are experienced and skilled and will offer a responsive service to all visitors at the Museum. The Museum has a large number of touchable objects in certain exhibitions, at activity stations or in the Hands on Rooms. The Hands on Rooms can be booked for group tours, including those with specific needs. Tour bookings can be made by phoning on (02) 9320 6163.

The Museum Style Guide is currently being rolled out and this policy will ensure that all future interpretive materials, signage, print and publications that the Museum distributes will include appropriate font types and sizes, contrast, colours and accessible design. A new wayfinding system has recently been installed and makes navigation and orientation for visitors once inside the Museum easier. The wayfinding system took accessible design into account and uses pictorial images to enable clear and consistent communication for all patrons of the Museum. A visitor comments book is located at the admissions desk and patrons of the Museum are encouraged to record their impressions of the exhibitions and facilities at the Museum. Comments are monitored frequently and those requiring a written response are referred to the Manager, Marketing and Publicity for action.

The Museum is committed to engaging people with disability through audience evaluations of exhibitions. Results from these evaluations are addressed immediately where possible or incorporated into an Exhibition Review Strategy that provides guidance for future exhibition design and planning.

The Australian Museum also has a traveling exhibition programme, improving opportunities for access for many groups in the community, including those with disability. The Museum-on-the-Road programme is designed to provide regional communities with access to Museum exhibitions and programs and targets less populated areas of NSW. The Museum on average produces about one traveling exhibition each year in natural history and/or culture. The Museum offers educational outreach programs such as Science in the City, Suburbs and Bush. Other outreach programs include the Museum-in-a-Box programme. Boxes covering 22 topic areas are available for loan and are comprised of educational materials developed to complement schools’ education curricula as well as background information on publicity, marketing and related merchandising.

The Australian Museum recognises that online services are a powerful tool for reaching out to current and new audiences. The Australian Museum is committed to ensuring that the web site is accessible to everyone. The new Australian Museum web site has been established in line with W3C Web Accessibility Initiative Guidelines and has been tested by patrons with low vision who use screen readers. This new web site will increase opportunities for visitors with disability to engage with online content. The Museum’s web site is continually expanding in scope and coverage and offers the opportunity to learn about aspects of the Museum’s collections and issues of biological and cultural diversity, without the need to visit the Museum’s premises in person. For example, the Museum’s marine invertebrate collections are computerised, assisting both collection management and access by users. Continuing advances in technology will also enable the Museum to play a larger role in linking people in discussion and exploration of biological and cultural diversity.

Outcomes from Previous Disability Action Plan

The previous Disability Action Plan was established in 2000 with a life span of three years until 2002. The following actions represented in the previous Plan have been achieved by the Museum:

  • Consultation with other agencies within the Arts Portfolio to share information about best practice initiatives for people with disabilities
  • Survey of Museum users to identify barriers to usage of Museum’s facilities and services and potential solutions
  • Inclusion of questions on disability issues in Public Programme evaluations
  • Expand visitor research to include people with disabilities and their needs / interests and suggestions for improvement of facilities and services
  • Discussions with Heritage Council of NSW regarding ramp for wheelchair access at William Street entrance
  • Placement of access information on the Internet.

Other actions that were not achieved and have been incorporated into this Plan include, but are not limited to:

  • Disability Awareness Training for staff
  • Installation of assistive listening devices throughout the Museum
  • Improved employment practices with regard to people with disability
  • Development of a Steering Committee to oversee the implementation of the Plan.

Appendix C: Consultation Process

Consultation is a critical element of all planning processes. When developing a Disability Action Plan, a crucial focus is on social inclusion throughout both internal and external consultation procedures. Given the whole of organisation responsibility and ownership for provision of access for people with disability, people with and without disabilities are required to participate in consultations.

Consultation undertaken to develop this Disability Action Plan

Accessible Arts assisted the Museum to establish this Disability Action Plan. Accessible Arts offer broader knowledge and understanding of access issues in the arts for people with disability as a result of a full-time commitment to this matter and experience in delivering previous consultations in the arts and disability sector across the State.

Further knowledge was drawn from the Australian Museum’s publication Many Voices Making Choices: Museum Audiences with Disabilities published in 2005 with experienced authors including the Museum’s Head Audience Research, Lynda Kelly. This publication provides qualitative insight into the experiences of people with disabilities when accessing Museums including the Australian Museum and the National Museum of Australia. Critical highlights from this publication is the social interaction and education benefits that people with disability encounter when participating in Museum activities or visiting exhibitions.

In addition to this foundation, internal and external consultations were undertaken throughout May in 2009. This included one-on-one and small group consultations with over 30 staff at a Senior Management, Branch Head, Management and delivery levels of the organisation. These consultations included questions specific to each area of the Museum’s business around the 5 outcome areas:

  1. Identifying and removing barriers to services for people with disability
  2. Providing information in a range of formats that are accessible to people with disability
  3. Making Government buildings and facilities physically accessible to people with disability
  4. Assisting people with disability to participate in public consultations and to apply for and participate in government advisory boards and committees
  5. Increasing employment participation of people with disability in the NSW public sector

Broader questions around perception and understanding of the Museum’s provision of access for people with disability were also included and this uncovered a common picture and understanding across the Museum regarding the importance of access and key strategies that may address major access barriers. This result provided a positive insight regarding an existing foundation of strong whole of organisation communication and reflected upon the high retention of staff with many staff having worked at the Museum for around ten years or more.

External consultations were also undertaken with people representing a cross-section of disabilities and backgrounds. These included and considered the needs for: people with sensory disabilities including people who are blind or have low vision; people who are Deaf or have low hearing; people with psychiatric disabilities; people with physical disabilities and limited mobility; people with intellectual disabilities and learning difficulties; people with neurological disabilities; people with physical disfigurement; people with organisms causing or capable of causing disease or illness; and people with a loss of bodily and/or mental functions. These consultations were held on and off site at times convenient to participants to enable greater inclusion. The clear outcomes from these consultations uncovered that the Museum does and could offer greater access for people with disabilities, however, many people lack an understanding about what was available at the Museum and how they could participate in events or undertake a visit. Actions provided within this Plan reflect the views and ideas provided by participants and this offers greater meaning and purpose for implementation. Improved and independent access to the Museum will result in increased visitor numbers including people with disability, their family and friends as well as broader groups that would also benefit including older people and families with prams. Subsequently, the Museum foresees increased revenue as a result of access initiatives in years to come.

Future consultation towards Disability Action Plans

Actions provided in this Plan identify that consultation with visitors with disability is not a one off event, but a requirement for consideration in all projects and exhibition procedures throughout each year. People representing a cross-section of access needs will be engaged in conversation before, during and after all projects undertaken by the Museum in all business areas.

When reviewing the Disability Action Plan, the Museum will engage a professional access auditor to undertake an assessment and provide recommendations for the entire Museum in front and back of house areas. Results from this assessment and recommendations will be included in the next Disability Action Plan (July 2012 – June 2015). Extensive consultations will also be facilitated by the Museum with an inclusive approach inviting dialogue with people representing all disabilities identified in the Disability Discrimination Act definition of disability. Collaborative and one-on-one consultations will also be undertaken with staff from all areas of the Museum’s business and levels of seniority. This would include results from access reports that come out of annual Personal Performance Programme reviews as well as broader conversations around particular outcome areas for the Plan and the overall status of the Museum and implementation of access initiatives.

Results from this consultation process will guide the development of the next Disability Action Plan ensuring that there is whole of organisation contribution to the Plan that will also result in continued whole of organisation ownership and responsibility for implementing the Plan. The profile of access and disability initiatives undertaken by the Museum will continue to expand and increase both internally and in the broader community throughout this important process.

Appendix D: Monitoring and Review

The development and implementation of current and future Disability Action Plans is recognised as an imperative task for the Museum as it ensures that the Museum is working towards meeting all aspects of the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act (1992). This Act is embedded within Federal legislation and the Museum will respect and acknowledge the Act in all areas of business and operations.

Communication

The Plan will be made available on the Australian Museum web site, included in staff orientation packages and procedures. This Plan and future Disability Action Plans will be lodged with the Department of Disability, Ageing and Homecare as well as the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Implementation

The Disability Action Plan will be incorporated into annual and long-term planning, programming and budgeting procedures. This would include, but is not limited to the Total Asset Management Plan, the Corporate Strategic Plan, the Site Master Plan and annual work programs and budgets. Outcomes from implementation will be included in Annual Reports and statistics provided should improve over time as a result of improved recording mechanisms.

  • The Plan includes an indicative cost for each Action. Of the 48 Actions:
  • 25 are considered to low cost (ie may cost less than $20,000)
  • 40 are considered to be medium cost (ie may cost between $20,000 and $100,000)
  • 8 are considered to be high cost (ie may cost more than $100,000)

Successful implementation of the Plan and hence achievement of community and Government objectives to increase accessibility will be dependent on appropriate funding to meet the needs identified.

Monitoring

Whilst all staff across the Museum will be responsible for implementing specific access activities in their area of business, the success of the Museum in implementing this plan will largely depend on whole of organisation ownership and responsibility for the realisation of access achievements. The Plan will also require a dedicated Disability Action Plan Steering Committee and an allocated member of Senior Management responsible for driving the delivery of the Plan who will sit on the Committee. In the case that the Senior Manager moves on, it is imperative that there is an effective hand over of progress and key areas for focus regarding the implementation of the Plan with another member of Senior Management. Furthermore, all staff will have specific actions incorporated into their Personal Performance Programme and the member of Senior Management responsible for driving the Plan will incorporate a broader statement identifying responsibility to oversee and facilitate the implementation of the Plan in their Personal Performance Programme. Access specific results from Personal Performance Programme reviews will be incorporated into monitoring procedures for the Disability Action Plan on an annual basis.

Annual reporting

An annual evaluation of progress towards implementing the Plan will be undertaken in a timely manner in order to effectively feed into the Annual Report. Statistics will include: numbers of staff who experience disability; numbers of visitors with disability; and a report on outcomes from implementation such as, ‘all staff completed disability awareness training’.

Review

This Plan has a life span of three years from January 2010 to December 2012. The Plan will require review and redevelopment in 2013 to enable a new plan for the following three-year period from January 2013 to June 2015. The next 2013-2015 Plan will be based on:

  • an assessment of progress in implementing the 2012-2013 Plan
  • the findings of a professional access auditor who will be engaged to undertake a thorough audit of all aspects of accessibility
  • on inclusive external and internal consultations with people with disability representing all areas of the definition of disability provided under the Disability Discrimination Act.

References

Australian Government (1992) Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act. Canberra: Attorney-General’s Department.

Department of Aging, Disability and Homecare (2008) Guidelines for disability action planning by NSW Government agencies. Sydney: Department of Aging, Disability and Homecare.

Landman, P., Fishburn, K., Kelly, L. and Tonkin, S. (2005) Many Voices Making Choices: Museum Audiences with Disability. Sydney: Australian Museum; Canberra: National Museum of Australia.

New South Wales Government (1993) Disability Services Act. Sydney: NSW Government.

New South Wales Government (2006) The NSW State Plan: A New Direction. Sydney: NSW Government.

United Nations (16 December 2006) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. New York: United Nations.


Mr Michael Tierney , Executive Officer
Last Updated:

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