16 August 2010

Museums strives for accessibility

By: Zongezile Matshoba

A temporary touch display with labels in Braille, a recipe book on wild vegetable also in Braille, and Kuyasa art works that were prepared amazed every participant, thanks to Zach Taljaard, the Albany Museum Exhibition Officer.

Accessibility, other than employment, is the thorniest issue out of all things that still face people with physical challenges. This was made clear in a workshop organised by the Accessibility Advisory Committee, Focus on the Person, held at Albany Museum on Thursday, 12 August 2010.

Toyoyo Koliti, standing on his crutches, was emphatic on his challenge to all.

“Do not lose focus, or you will end up being a beggar. Fight for accessibility, employment and equality.”

He ascertained that there is a great need for research to be conducted and data collected about disabled people to convince employers of their skills and capabilities.

“Be a specialist in your disability. Get skills. Be independent. Convince other people to give help only when it is needed.”

Koliti is totally opposed to disabled people being part of a quota system to employment equity. He added that they are always at work, doing the job as required, and will be on leave only for valid reasons.

Slovo Dyira, 16, a grade 9 learner at Mary Waters High School reflected on the challenges facing school going learners.

“Our parents have to go and beg principals to accept us. We are constantly teased by other learners.” Two representatives from Settlers Hospital, Vera Fainstone, the audiologist and Robyn Ashbolt, the occupational therapist took everyone through sign language and wheelchair usage. People were taught that there are many wheelchairs which are made according to each individual’s specific needs. With the sign language, although alphabets are international, every region has its own sign. People were taught how to say “how are you” and “thank you”. Bongani Nangu shared how blind people negotiate their way at home and in town.

Three short films, two about people on wheel chairs, and the third one about a blind person were also shown. Francine Mukendi also talked about the inaccessibility of the Rhodes University's Steve Biko Student Centre. This building also has Rhodes Music Radio, the Student Resource Centre and the Career Centre.

Tony Dold from the Selmar Schonland Herbarium entertained the audience with lovely jembe drum beats that left everyone enjoying the feeling of the sounds.

Some of the original committee have left but Taljaard, Agata Runowicz-Forsdyke, Luc and Karen Marechal, Phumlani Cimi have been with committee all the way. This year they were joined by Heine Kohl, HOD Maintenance and Amy van Wezel, the History intern.

The committee warmly thanked Fruit and Veg City for the fruit that kept everyone healthy, and Pick n Pay for the committee's birthday cake and biscuits.

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