It’s hard to believe that nearly a year has passed since the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace was awarded a grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Sciences (IMLS) for our newest initiative, Access for all: Advancing Girl Scouts’ Commitment to Disability Inclusion. The first half of this two-year project has been intensely busy, insightful, and educational for staff at the birthplace, who have conducted research and trainings for the initiative all while serving Girl Scouts and other visitors each day.
Early in 2018, to kick off Access for All, we commissioned the Institute for Human Centered Design to create a detailed report assessing the birthplace’s facilities, programs, policies, and website for accessibility. This process involved working with user-experts—people with disabilities, including Girl Scouts—to participate in our tours and programs and provide valuable feedback. The finished report is now being used to create a roadmap for making improvements regarding access and inclusion.
In the spring, we invested in the first of many staff trainings to facilitate our team’s ability to better serve audiences with disabilities, including Girl Scouts. Our staff learned about inclusive language, disability history, access in cultural sites, verbal description, and much more. Janis, a member of the Birthplace interpretive staff, said that the “training has been very helpful to me by providing insights about accommodating all visitors on an historic property.”
This new set of tools to better serve the community is something we just can’t keep to ourselves! That’s why we are now in the development stages of creating training workshops for Girl Scout Troop leaders throughout the state of Georgia. Working closely with Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia, we will share a range of tools to prepare Girl Scout Troop leaders to better serve Girl Scouts with disabilities. We are excited to help more girls gain access not only to the birthplace, but to the Movement as a whole. Stay tuned for announcements as we prepare to launch our trainings in 2020.
Finally, next year, we will unveil a brand new Girl Scout Troop Experience, a half-day program for Troops visiting the Birthplace that will explore themes from Access for all, including Juliette Gordon Low’s life story as a woman who was hard of hearing. We look forward to equipping the next generation of women leaders with the tools to make the world a better and more inclusive place for everyone.