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SCRATCH Built on bold foundations, the exhibitions team at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights hit the nail on the head when they embraced the voice of the disability community. Corey Timpson shares their ambitious approach to inclusive design


our years before the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) opened its doors, the exhibitions team faced a critical moment. While making a presentation to the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD), the team encountered a response that no designers ever want to hear – the audience unleashed a barrage of criticism. This reaction led to a bold shift in the development of Canada’s new national museum in Winnipeg, which opened in 2014. The institution was being built from scratch. The time to engage in an ambitious new approach was never better.

Seizing opportunities The reaction from the disability community made it clear that, while the intent of the exhibitions was great, the design left much to be desired for visitors with disabilities. Fortunately, there was still ample time for change. We agreed that a human rights museum would absolutely need to become a leader in inclusive design and 80

Timpson talks about accessible design


accessibility. Our goal was to establish inclusive design as a mandatory museum practice across all departments. The museum could only truly be a leader in the field if inclusive design became a key characteristic of our corporate culture. We then established an Inclusive Design Advisory Council (IDAC) comprising a dozen members with various disabilities from across Canada. Its role is to help the museum make informed decisions. Council members act as liaisons to their communities, which has also enabled museum teams to tap a vast network of