Autism award for museum

Orla Kelly (third from right), from Autism NI, presents a  Autism NI Impact Award to staff at the Tower Museum in Derry, in recognition of their continual  'Autism Friendly'  programme. From left are museum services staff members Sharon Glackin, Alison  Norris, operations manager, Betty Doherty,  Emma McGarrity, Ronan McConnell, education officer and Gerry Lynn.
Orla Kelly (third from right), from Autism NI, presents a Autism NI Impact Award to staff at the Tower Museum in Derry, in recognition of their continual 'Autism Friendly' programme. From left are museum services staff members Sharon Glackin, Alison Norris, operations manager, Betty Doherty, Emma McGarrity, Ronan McConnell, education officer and Gerry Lynn.

Staff at the Tower Museum have been officially accredited for their work in making the facility Autism friendly, being presented today with an Autism Impact Award from Autism NI.

The award was welcomed by the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor John Boyle, who praised the work of the team in promoting access and inclusion for all.

“This is a fantastic achievement by the Tower team who are already renowned for their friendly service,” Cllr. Boyle said.

He added: “This will further enhance the visitor experience at the museum and ensure that even more people can enjoy the many exhibitions and collections on show.

“It’s one of council’s priorities to enhance wellbeing through cultural experiences and this award will mean more opportunities to engage with all members of our community.”

As Northern Ireland’s largest Autism charity, Autism NI has developed the Impact Awards to help organisations create a more ‘Autism friendly environment’ for visitors.

The award has been designed to better understand any staff and customers who may have Autism and also how to adapt the museum environment to support this.

Through attaining the award, 30,000 individuals and families living with autism in Northern Ireland that previously may have been excluded will now be able to access exhibitions and workshops.

Autism Champion at the Tower Museum, Betty Doherty, said the team were delighted with the acknowledgement.

“The process of training for the award and the adjustments we have made throughout the Tower Museum have really enabled us to gain a better understanding of the needs of people with Autism,” Betty said.

She added: “ We are delighted that the museum will now be a more welcoming space for those with Autism and give them the confidence to engage with us more readily.”

In order to attain the award, the museum has developed a number of autism friendly strategies. The Autism Champions have made adjustments to ensure that the museum is autism accessible through a variety of measures.