A best-selling author and disability advocate says she’s thrilled with the Royal BC Museum’s orca exhibit, not just because it is interesting, but also for how accessible it is.
“I’m constantly finding obstacles getting into businesses, getting into different museums and exhibits”, says best-selling and critically acclaimed author Tara Moss.
Moss and her family recently moved back to Victoria from Australia. She says the challenges for disabled people, like her, are similar around the world.
In addition to being an author, Moss is also a disability advocate.
“So for the last six years, I’ve had a condition called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. It means that I use a wheelchair or a cane, and accessibility has become incredibly important for me in my life.”
Moss, also a former model and television host, grew up in Victoria and has a soft spot for the Royal British Columbia Museum.
“I’ve been coming here since I was a little kid. And now that I’m a mom and I’ve got a daughter, I want her to be able to enjoy it as well. I really love the Orcas exhibit because they’ve been very careful to get accessibility right,” she says.
According to Moss, an estimated 22 per cent of Canadians have a disability — a number she personally believes is underestimated.
With that in mind, the Royal BC Museum is making a push to create more accessible exhibits. The entire third floor of the museum will be closed to the public on Dec. 31 and will re-open with new exhibits and a more accessible layout.
“I can’t get my way through old town, for example, because I’m a wheelchair user. The fact that they’re looking at that they’re looking to update it, I think is a really good thing,” says Moss.
Moss also applauds the museum’s latest exhibit, Orcas: Our Shared Future, for its accessibility.
“I can turn around easily. I’m not going to be running into other people. There aren’t little narrow corridors. I love that they’ve actually put in braille panels in this exhibit. So if braille is your way of taking an of information. It’s there. I’ve got places in the exhibit where people can take a time out and have a sit.”
Moss says these accessible additions to public spaces makes a difference.
“Whether it has to do with disabilities or chronic illness, whether it has to do with autism, whether it has to do with hearing and visual impairments. They’re part of our communities. They’re our friends, our loved ones, our colleagues, and maybe our future selves. If we’re building in universal design and accessibility from the start, then those people know that they’re welcome.”
Orcas: Our Shared Future has been extended and will run until March 31, 2022.