Friday, July 31, 2015

MJH at the Disability Pride Parade

This blog is from Yael Friedman, Museum Educator.

On Sunday, July 12, Shu, one of our High School Apprentices, and I participated in New York City’s first annual Disability Pride Parade in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). We marched with the Museum Access Consortium (MAC) from Madison Square Park to Union Square Park. Representatives from more than 10 cultural institutions joined the MAC contingent.

Despite the heat, there was a tremendous showing at the parade. It was remarkable to see the enthusiasm and determination of thousands of parade participants, many of whom are disabled. The NYC Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities ensured accommodations for people with different types of disabilities. Many signs addressed challenges that people with disabilities face in their everyday life and the desire to be treated equally. For example, one sign stated "Treat me the way you want to be treated." Not only was this a celebration, it was an educational experience for those unfamiliar with the needs and perspectives of people with disabilities.

During the parade, I held the MAC banner as Shu ran up and down the street giving out Museum flyers and our calendar of events. MAC participants chanted “museums for all” as we made our way down Broadway. Shu cheerfully engaged with all of the supporters lined up alongside the parade and introduced them to the Museum. She reflected that, “Many people said thank you back, which was probably a courteous gesture in others' eyes, but to me, it really meant my work had an impact on them. I had long conversations with a few people on the sidewalk and in the parade. The onlookers were so pleased that people with disabilities are better accommodated in public spaces now than they were 25 years ago, before the ADA. I was also impressed by such advances in society. It was moving to share my happiness with them and be part of this historical moment.”

The Museum has worked with the American Sign Language (ASL) community over the past year, and it has been very successful. We consistently have a large showing at events and have been fortunate to work with three deaf Museum Educators who lead tours in ASL and Russian Sign Language for deaf visitors. Our focus this year is on expanding our programs for people with visual impairments.

A new season of programs for the ASL community will begin in the fall. Bookmark our ASL programs page and check back in September for new ASL events.

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