Posted on December 04, 2019

Sasol, the international integrated chemicals and energy company, as part of its ongoing efforts to promote inclusion and accessibility under its Accessible Qatar initiative, supported the newly opened Museum of Illusion to become more inclusive for people with disabilities, and arranged a special visit of the initiative’s Ambassadors on the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3. A United Nations initiative, The International Day of Persons with Disabilities aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development.

The Museum of Illusions have designed their premises to be suitable for the disabled community as part of their aim to be an accessible and inclusive museum for all people. However, to ensure proper inclusion, the Accessible Qatar initiative conducted an accessibility audit at the museum and supported in having the museum exhibit descriptions to be displayed in braille language to become accessible for the visually impaired. The Museum of Illusions offers interactive, immersive and fun experience for people of all ages and has become one of the fastest growing education and entertainment places, with locations in 18 cities around the world. The Doha branch of the Museum opened in September 2019 at the Gate Mall and is currently the only branch which includes braille language for the blind.

Commenting on the visit, Chris Molefe, President of Sasol in Qatar said: “Accessible Qatar initiative aspires to build an inclusive society where disabled people can explore and enjoy more of Qatar without limits. Our ambassadors of the disabled community were pleased to visit the Museum of Illusions and were appreciative of the efforts taken by the management to make the museum’s premises accessible and friendly for the disabled community. We thank the Museum of Illusions for giving us the opportunity to help provide better accessibility to the disabled community in Qatar, and also thank the Qatar Social & Cultural Center for Blind for offering braille printing services free of charge to the Qatari community.”

Ioana C. El Watidy Executive Director at Museum of Illusions said, “One in four families has a disabled member and we want to welcome those members, their families and friends and ensure they have an amazing experience. We are delighted to welcome the Ambassadors of Accessible Qatar to the museum, and very thankful to Sasol and its Accessible Qatar initiative for offering us an accessibility audit and advising us how to become more inclusive. We also thank the Qatar Social & Cultural Center for Blind for offering us the braille printing of all our exhibits. Access is usually seen in terms of barriers which need to be identified and dismantled, however, it should be considered in the broadest sense. It is not just about providing ramps or accessible toilets. The barriers may be physical, sensory, intellectual, emotional, attitudinal, financial, social, educational or cultural. Our main target is to remove the fear of the unknown and let the people know that Museum of illusions has good accessibility.”

Faisal Al-Kooheji, Accessible Qatar Ambassador for visual impairment and the Chairman of the Qatar Social Cultural Center for Blind, said, “The Museum of Illusions, as the name suggests is about the fantastic world of illusions and being visually impaired, I did not expect to have any kind of experience here. But the braille language descriptors at each exhibit are very detailed and give a picture on what the exhibit is about. I am thankful to Accessible Qatar and the Museum of Illusions to make the museum inclusive for blind people, to make us feel welcome and have a similar experience as a person with regular sight.”

The museum caters to different types of disability and has good lighting, clear labels, signs and arrows to ensure ease of access. Descriptions in Braille language along with magnifiers and large print descriptions of exhibits, well-chosen colour schemes and good acoustics are part of the museum’s inclusion programme. Except for certain areas with an inclined floor, all other space is easily accessible by wheelchairs. Also, at all times, a wheel-chair is available to borrow within the premises. The museum also has a Friendly Sensory hour every first Saturday of the month that provides an opportunity to guests who have mobility challenges, struggle to communicate or become easily overwhelmed by stimuli. The staff are also well trained to handle any kind of situation and have attended a Disability Awareness Training with accent on Autism Spectrum Disorder, presented by the Child Development Center.

Accessible Qatar is a smartphone application and website, the first of its kind in the region. It provides the disabled community with instant and reliable information about the accessibility of public and touristic locations in Qatar. The app is available for download free of charge on the App Store, Google Play store, and Windows Phone Store.