Attendees were then divided into groups and enjoyed workshops on many of these important areas. We learned how to work with a Sign Language Interpreter, had audio description training, memory loss tour training, as well as discussions on how to greet visitors with disabilities and on how to recognize bias in museum spaces.
This great event ended with roundtable discussions on the following topics: measuring accessibility, making your current tours more accessible, interacting with kids with disabilities, analyzing the MHS site survey, and discussions with different groups in Saint Louis, Alive and Well STL, the Alzheimer's Association Greater Missouri Chapter and both the English as a second language and English language learners.
When leaving the History Museum, it seems everyone I talked to wanted to express appreciation for the inspiring and extremely helpful presentations. Their years of focusing on the topic of Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion were evident. The MHS's depth of understanding the needs of others is impressive. This is now the "hot" topic today, but they have been focusing on it for years – hats off to the Missouri Historical Society!
What was the take away from the Forum? Right after the Forum many of our members put these ideas into immediate practice. Here are a few examples:
• The Humane Society contacted a memory care facility and began a new program for those interested in a touch program with the animals.
• The National Blues Museum now offers off-site activities with music.
• The St. Louis Public Library said that they had sought an interpreter for the hearing impaired for an upcoming program.
• Several other museums/organizations were planning to offer "language cards" that welcome visitors and offer introductions for those who do not speak English.
The MHS is so pleased about the huge success of their Forum that now there is conversation occurring within the MHS's accessibility committee of hosting this event on a regular basis; no decision has made as to how often it would occur, but things are happening!
Thank you MHS for your valuable contributions.
The mission of the Docent Council of Metropolitan Saint Louis is to facilitate the exchange of information and ideas among docents and staff who work with docents from cultural institutions in the Saint Louis area. In addition to holding three meetings and sponsoring two exchange tours each year, the Council hosts a biennial Symposium as well as Forums or other programs in-between. They are open to all docents from member institutions.
We welcome your docent ideas and experiences. Share them by:
--joining the National Docents Forum Facebook group an interactive forum for docents and guides.