Monday, February 19, 2007

Egyptian Museum communicating Ancient Egypt to blind children

"Fifteen young girls sat around two tables in a classroom at the Egyptian Museum, molding rakes and water pumps out of red clay. They are participating in the museum’s program to teach schoolchildren about Egyptian agriculture during Pharaonic times.
In many museums, one might expect posters and pictures on the walls to inspire the childrens’ sculpting, but these walls are bare. The only hints of the museum are the busts of pharaohs and wooden models of hammers scattered on the tables.
The classroom uses these models, not pictures, because the schoolgirls are blind. Touch is their window to the world.
The Egyptian Museum has some of the most extensive programs for blind youth in the world. . . . . The Egyptian Museum now has five staff members working on programs for the blind, four of whom are blind or partially sighted themselves. Having blind staff members is highly unusual, as Marei discovered when she did not meet many people at the conference whose museums had blind staff members.
See the above page for the full story.
Usually, according to her, museums bring in blind volunteers to assist on particular exhibits. But with different volunteers advising each show, there is little continuity in education for the blind.
The Egyptian Museum gives tours and offers classes every Wednesday. Many museums in Egypt have special nights for blind and handicapped patrons on the last day of every month, but access to exhibits is restricted. Employees at the Egyptian Museum think that it is important to give them as full an experience of the museum as possible."

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