Participation and emancipation of people with visual impairments
In the Netherlands there are about 350.000 visually impaired people. Being blind or partially sighted has a big impact on their daily lives and on their participation in society. This can vary from very practical, technical inconveniences to psychosocial problems. Less than 20% of the visually impaired people have a paid job. The rest must rely on benefits in the context of the Young Disabled Persons Act (WaJong) or the Work and Social Assistance Act (WWB). Many employers are not aware of the possibilities to deploy the many talents of blind and partially sighted people.
The muZIEum (‘muSEEum’) is an extraordinary museum – without any light! Every year it offers 35,000 visitors (families, schools, business people) a glimpse of the day-to-day life of the blind and partially sighted. At the muZIEum, 40 people with visual impairments give guided tours in the dark within the building (hearing, tasting, touching, smelling) or outside, in the city centre of Nijmegen with the use of a cane and a pair of virtual reality glasses. Now, the tables have turned: the blind person leads the sighted person. The muZIEum is regarded as an innovative social experience with a high edutainment level.
The muZIEum foundation makes an important contribution to the employment situation and promotes awareness for the social participation and emancipation of visually impaired people. Apart from the fact that employees are no longer at the margin of society, the muZIEum offers them opportunities to develop themselves, both professionally and personally. They can pursue studies or training and they are asked to share their thoughts on developing the guest experiences and on the functioning of organisation as a whole.