Two Sharjah museums awarded the global ‘Accessible for Disability Certificate’

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Two museums under Sharjah Museums Authority have been awarded the certificate of Accessible for Disability in the Museum category by The World Disability Union (WDU).

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Established in 2011, the not-for-profit WDU is an umbrella organization for 150 sub-organizations from 68 countries that aims to incorporate differently enabled people into the community.

The latest WDU announcement said that Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization and Sharjah Maritime Museum, have passed all regulations and guidelines for disability-friendly amenities.

These include the availability of wheelchair ramps, restroom fixtures, automatic doors, and low-rise reception desks that enable SMA staff to communicate effectively with people in wheelchairs.

Programs for the visually impaired at a Sharjah museum. (Courtesy: SMA)
Programs for the visually impaired at a Sharjah museum. (Courtesy: SMA)

SMA has also teamed up with Al Amal School for the Deaf from Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services, to help its employees master sign language.

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The Sharjah Museums Authority (SMA), established in 2006 as an autonomous government authority, links and oversees 16 museums across Sharjah that cover widely varied fields, including Islamic art and culture, archaeology, heritage, science, marine life, as well as the history of Sharjah and the region.

Since 2011, SMA had launched a number of programs that provide opportunities for children with hearing disabilities to tour museums.

Important milestone

“This is another important milestone for the emirate of Sharjah and SMA,” said Manal Ataya, Director-General of SMA.

“We share WDU’s mission regarding the inclusion of individuals with disabilities into the society. Organizations are at their best when they welcome, respect, and involve people of all backgrounds, including people with disabilities. Accessibility is something we take very seriously at the Authority, and we strive to ensure that our museums, in this regard, are leading in this region,” she added.

Excavation workshop for autistic children at a Sharjah museum. (Courtesy: SMA)
Excavation workshop for autistic children at a Sharjah museum. (Courtesy: SMA)

Over the years, SMA had rolled out a series of services and programs for people with different disabilities.

Apart from making its facilities wheelchair-accessible, the Authority had trained staff members to communicate with hearing-impaired visitors in sign language.

In 2018, SMA launched a first of its kind initiative in the Arabian Gulf, to provide tours moderated by people with hearing disabilities.

Through the ‘Outstanding Guide in Sign Language’ program, SMA offers a thorough training program targeting deaf graduates to provide them with the skills they need to be outstanding museum guides.

Also in 2018, the authority has launched its pioneering ‘Autism Friendly Museums’ program and published its Museums in the Middle East Journal’, which focused in its first edition on Best Practices of Art & Culture for People with Different Disabilities.

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