BENGALURU: Bengaluru is set to have one of the most accessible museums in India, thanks to an INR 10 crore grant that Mphasis, an Information Technology solutions provider specialising in cloud and cognitive services, is offering to the upcoming Museum of Art & Photography (MAP). The museum, which will open its doors to the city at the latter end of 2020, will be the setting for a pioneering initiative in public accessibility and develop what will become one of the most inclusive spaces in the country.
The Mphasis grant will be given to MAP over a period of five years to enable the museum to take a 360-degree approach to accessibility right from the outset. This will include the physical space of the museum, structural works as well as interiors, under the expert guidance of the Diversity and Equal Opportunity Centre (DEOC) who are benchmarking the MAP building and services against some of the most established museums in the world.
Being ready to welcome visitors with a disability is not enough – MAP aims to break down barriers in the perception of who museums are for. Over the next few months, a primary task will be focusing on building relationships between MAP and NGOs and groups who work with People with Disabilities (PwDs), to ensure that they are aware of these opportunities and they can contribute to the shaping of programs and services to cater to their needs.
“Mphasis has always believed that inclusion needs to be championed in mainstream spaces and not in corridors of isolation. Through this partnership, we hope to encourage and showcase equal access to opportunities in community spaces. We are honored to be part of this pioneering initiative, which will go a long way towards promoting the cause of inclusivity in the country,” said Srikanth Karra, Chief Human Resources Officer, Mphasis.
With the help of this grant, MAP will be able to also offer art education workshops specifically tailored for PwDs and inclusive exhibitions in their galleries, as well as inclusive auditorium programs such as talks and conferences. Technology will be a core component of MAP and all equipment will be procured with access in mind, including the website. Further, thanks to Mphasis’ support, a career in the arts will be open to PwDs too. The Inclusion Officer, as well as being the central point of contact for all access-related matters, will be implementing policies and practices which will allow for fair recruitment and retention of staff with disabilities.
“Creating an inclusive museum goes far beyond ramps and wheelchair-friendly restrooms,” said Abhishek Poddar founder and trustee of MAP, “We will ensure that all spaces in the museum are easy to navigate by installing accessible signage, ensuring suitable use of appropriate technology and keeping access at the forefront of the choices we make regarding the interiors. Exhibitions will also have to be accessible by having as many artworks as possible translated into tactile experiences and accompanied by audio and visual guides. We would also like our visitors’ programs, education services and outreach to be accessible and inclusive for people with different disabilities.”
“As an organisation, we have been on a journey to understand what it means to be truly inclusive. We are aware that most disabilities are non-visible and therefore our staff will be trained to liaise with the public in a respectful and mindful manner. A Quiet Room will be available to visitors as well,” he added.
According to the World Health Organisation, in their World Report on Disability – about 15 per cent of the world’s population live with some form of disability, of whom 2-4 per cent experienced significant difficulties in functioning.While museums world-over have already taken great strides in the area of accessibility, cultural spaces in India are still catching up. The collaboration between Mphasis and MAP is pioneering in its effort to create a barrier-free space so that museums too can be inc
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