Disability Pride Is Here: An Interview with Poster House’s Accessibility Coordinator, Sarit Cahana
In celebration of Disability Pride Month, Poster House sat down with our Accessibility Coordinator, Sarit Cahana, to talk about her work, disability pride, and what the museum is doing to make our space more accessible.
Poster House: Could you tell us a little about your background and how you found your way to Poster House?
Sarit Cahana: My work in disability activism began when I was in high school. I had experienced discrimination and realized I deserved better. It is thanks to the many activists who came before me that I continued on this path.
Professionally, I worked in the disability field through different nonprofit organizations prior to joining museums. I honed my accessibility skills in these positions and wanted to use them in a space I had passion for! I got into this with a belief in the power of education and that institutions can provide excellent opportunities for alternative learning and fostering of community. I was so excited when I found Poster House. Its efforts aligned with my values, and I loved that it was, and continues to be, intentional with its accessibility goals.
PH: What do you believe museums could be doing to expand accessibility?
SC: As a start, museums should have an Accessibility Coordinator. While all employees are responsible for incorporating values that increase access, there needs to be a qualified individual who can guide efforts across the institution and problem-solve with and within multiple departments.
Institutions must also make an effort to hire and pay disabled people on a contract basis or as full or part-time staff. A key barrier to entry is the job description. Many position descriptions have discriminatory language or expectations that keep disabled individuals from applying. This discrimination is furthered by interviews that include inaccessible practices. Organizations are responsible for dedicating themselves to creating an inclusive environment and accessible space.
PH: What does a day in the life of an Accessibility Coordinator look like for you?
SC: My day-to-day varies and depends on what I’m trying to accomplish—and I love that part of my job! It keeps things interesting. I have some dedicated projects, and I work with various departments to assist them in making their areas of service more accessible. This can look like giving feedback to our excellent design team on our exhibitions, developing our Vibrant Verbal Description tours, or training our staff on our accessibility offerings and practices. My job is very collaborative, and I also enjoy learning from everyone’s expertise.
PH: What are some current projects you are working on? What has Poster House done to help expand disability access?
SC: My goal is to integrate accessibility into the fabric of the museum. Additionally, I hope the disabled community feels like a welcomed part of this institution. Projects I’m working on include building a social narrative for our guests with autism and an audio description of our permanent collection to help those with vision loss. I have also started adding Spanish-language labels for our fall shows. Exciting things are arriving soon!
I’ve also helped the museum expanded its current offerings, including the virtual Vibrant Verbal Description Tours and its in-person counterpart, and made physical and non-physical changes to our existing spaces. I am proud of the work I’ve done overhauling the website to make it more accessible and completing this task with buy-in from multiple departments. We’ve even introduced new events for the disabled community, including our past disability justice workshops and our disability pride-focused First Friday that occurred earlier this month.
PH: What does disability pride mean to you?
SC: For me, disability pride means that I am rejecting ableism and know what I deserve. This understanding is not easy to hold and is a constant practice. In my journey, it’s taken me a lot of time to be proud. It took a while to use the word “disabled” to describe myself! These days, I typically appreciate my disability and what it brings to my life.
PH: Any words of advice for the next generation of Accessibility Coordinators?
SC: Be involved in and support the disabled community! Don’t forget who you’re doing this work for. Lean on the community’s expertise and bring it along on this work.
To learn more about all of Poster House’s accessibility offerings at the museum, you can click the link here.