Alexis Pastuch has been a member of the ROM’s Accessibility Advisory Committee since 2010. After studying to be a law clerk at Durham College, Alexis found it difficult to locate a position with accessibility standards that created a comfortable working environment. This challenge encouraged Alexis to work towards positive change with Alexibility, her personal consulting company founded in 2007.
Personal experience taught Alexis that even though an institution may advertise itself as accessible, there are often a number of smaller challenges that make visiting an inconvenient experience. In order to help others avoid the disappointment she often encountered, her company offers to scope out a venue to evaluate accessibility before a client visits.
Alexis’ leadership experience and initiative led to her current involvement on the ROM’s Accessibility Advisory Committee. As a part of the committee, she feels proud to be making a difference in her community. Providing feedback on new exhibitions at the Museum means barriers are addressed at the ground level. The recent Ultimate Dinosaurs exhibition benefited from this process. After an exclusive preview of the exhibition, the touch screen monitors were lowered to accommodate wheelchair users and visitors of shorter heights.
Alexis explains that museums and art galleries often do not take wheelchair height into consideration when designing exhibitions, “Accessibility is usually thought to be getting people in the door, but it is so much more than that.” Text panels are frequently so high that she cannot see them. After feedback from the Accessibility Advisory Committee, text panels at the ROM have been placed at lower levels to accommodate the sight lines of different visitors, complete with large print.
It can be difficult to find a happy medium when it comes to museum design, but Alexis feels passionate about the importance of dialogue and reception to feedback.
When discussing Access Awareness Week, Alexis explains that eliminating barriers is the only way to ensure everyone can enjoy open access to the treasures that the Museum has to offer. Alexis’ favourite part of the museum is the Teck Suite of Galleries: Earth's Treasures, explaining that she just cannot resist all of the sparkly gems!
For more information on the museum's accessibility initiatives please visit the webpage here.