Grupo MCCAC (Accessible Science Museums and Centres Group), Brazil
Initiated in 2021, the project “Science Communication: Access, Accessibility, and Experiences of Diverse Audiences” is organized by the Brazilian Group Accessible Science Museums and Centers (Grupo MCCAC). In order to create a network of shared inclusive practices and the defence of the rights of people with disabilities, it has established three interconnected goals: 1) to provide education and training of human resources from varied levels of expertise, especially from the fields of science museums and museology; 2) to connect research and practice to advance the themes and best practices for inclusion of people with disabilities; 3) to create and disseminate content through bibliographical publishing, educational and training materials.
Science museums are cornerstone educational institutions in cities and communities and can provide the fundamental human right of people to engage in scientific, cultural, educational and leisure activities. By training current and future professionals, researching, publishing and communicating about inclusion and accessibility, the project can reduce inequalities and promote inclusive quality education and science communication.
We develop participatory research: engaging people with disabilities not only as visitors/ audiences but also as professionals and protagonists. We acknowledge intersectionality and diversity and bring in marginalized communities. The results obtained from research help to understand individuals better, making it possible to identify what needs to be improved. We investigate successes, needs, challenges, and barriers and share these experiences with other institutions to build new hybrid museological practices.
On the three goals of the project, we involve various actors of society, engaging with people with different types of disabilities, museum professionals, scientists, educators, students, local communities, government agencies and other stakeholders — national and international — who actively cooperate and contribute to the planning, design, implementation, and evaluation of activities.
We have governmental grants (CNPq and FAPERJ) and the research is part of the courses: Doctorate and Master’s programs in Bioscience and Health Education; Master’s in Science, Technology and Health Communication and Specialization in Science and Technology Communication – at Fiocruz; and the Specialization in Science Teaching at IFRJ/Campus Maracanã. The project is based on the Grupo MCCAC associated researchers’ and professionals’ voluntary work and expertise: 15 members from the areas of education, museology, biology, physics, cultural production, chemistry, graphic design, language teaching, engineering, social sciences, sociomuseology and arts. Four speak Brazilian Sign Language, two are professionals in audio descriptions, and two are experts in accessible web and graphic design.
We do not charge for any of our work. We provided training for around 500 people from different fields of expertise. The materials are free, available online, often in more than one language — Portuguese, English, or Spanish — and have accessibility features. Throughout the two-year project, we published a book, a Collective Glossary of Signs of Brazilian Museums, papers, book chapters, and a research topic in Frontiers in Education. We co-created the event “Encounters for Diversity in Science and Culture” and participated in the development of the traveling exhibition “Accessible Physics: Ride this Wave” with private organizations and people with disabilities.