Accessibility is important, and educational facilities and museums have to be cognizant of the idea that not all people may be able to access their facilities easily and work to close that gap so that everyone can have the opportunity to enjoy the experience. Well, in the spirit of that The Ford Foundation has awarded a 10 million dollar grant to The Henry Ford and all of it’s attractions to boost accessibility and remove barriers to people that are participating in programs or taking tours of the facilities. The goal of these grant funds are to allow people who might otherwise not be capable of gaining access to The Henry Ford to do so.
The $10 million dollar grant will fund what has been named the Ford Foundation Equity Initiative, this initiative will include several projects aimed at increasing accessibility at all of The Henry Ford’s Dearborn attractions.
The Ford Foundation Equity Initiative will allocate funds towards several projects including but not limited to:
- Renovating of restrooms located at the museum and the village as well as any other structural amenities to make these restrooms more accessible to people with disabilities as well as their families and caregivers.
- Expanding an existing paid college internship program aimed at attracting a significantly more diverse group of students from a wide range of academic fields, who are studying either at local or out-of-state educational institutions and attract them to the cultural sector
- An expansion of The Henry Ford Youth Mentorship Program which seeks to help at-risk youth.
- Fund field trips for all public school students in the 4th, 5th, and 6th grades who are currently registered in the Detroit Public Schools Community District.
- Improving on the attraction’s current sensory-friendly and tactile tours to improve accessibility for people who are visually-impaired or those individuals and their families who are on the autism spectrum
- Regular town hall meetings at The Henry Ford will include lectures as well as discussions on a variety of topics led by civic leaders, historians, and thought leaders.
The Ford Freedom Equity Initiative will help so many individuals and families who otherwise might be limited in their ability to enjoy the experience of all that The Henry Ford has to offer. Initiatives like this one that strives to improve the experience of people with disabilities as well as those facing significant life challenges are critical to improving the experience for everyone involved.
The President and CEO of The Henry Ford, Patricia Mooradian had this to say about The Ford Foundation Equity Initiative and its inclusive projects: “It’s all about equity and inclusion and making sure we have friendly environments for all need, We want everybody to have accessibility to what this institution has to offer. We don’t want any barriers to somebody coming here, whether it’s a student coming from different circumstances (or) an adult needing special care.”
More cultural institutions should take note of what The Henry Ford is doing to increase accessibility, foster equity, and better the community that supports it. There is still so much work to be done in terms of creating a more inclusive community, but this is a step in the right direction.
By Lianne Hikind