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Sharjah Museums launches tactile tours for visually impaired

SHARJAH, UAE, March 22, 2023

Sharjah Museums Authority will make accessible a number of replicas in the museums more accessible for visitors with visual impairment in tactile tours next April as part of a new initiative to broaden services for people with disabilities.

The new scheme offers visually challenged visitors an interactive museum experience that allows them to touch models of objects and embrace an opportunity to see with their other senses.

Visitors will be provided with explanatory brochures in Braille that offer more information about the displays.

Some of the replicas that will be showcased at the Abu Bakr Gallery of Islamic Faith at the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilisation include a Holy Qur’an attributed to Uthman ibn Affan written in Kufic script on parchment made from animal skins that measures 41 cm in length, 46 cm in width, and 11 cm in thickness.

They additionally feature a 6-metre-long Kaaba curtain lined with a durable green silk fabric and embroidered with eminent Qur’anic verses and Islamic patterns, and a Quran replica of the most prominent works of calligraphist Ahmed Karahisari’s, the original of which is preserved in Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul, Turkey.

Also models of Al Kaaba the direction of Al Qibla and centre of pilgrimage for Muslims and Al Bidyah Mosque which is the oldest mosque ever found in UAE that was built in 1446 and still operational, are among the tactile objects showcased at Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilisation.

Other object replicas showcased at Sharjah Archaeology Museum feature a 7000-year-old necklace that was found in Al Buhais 18 cemetery and dates back to the Stone Age, a rectangular soft stone box that dates back to the period between 2500 and 2000 B.C, and a coarse stone with a flat surface brought from Kalba in Sharjah and featuring a carving of an animal on its top that is believed to be a drawing of a bull dating back to the period between 2000 and 1000 B.C.

A reddish-sand painted ceramic figurine and a round dome-shaped ceramic incense lid with an animal figure on its top believed to be a bull, that were both unearthed in Muwaileh archaeological site and date back to 600- 900 B.C. as well as a flat, rectangular piece of stone bearing Southern Musnad script writings and a tetradrachm coin depicting an image of Hercules, are also among the tactile objects at this museum.

More replicas will be showcased next year as part of this scheme.

Manal Ataya, Director General of Sharjah Museums Authority, affirmed that the authority's latest initiative is part of its commitment to supporting people with different disabilities and offering them unique and inclusive museum experiences.

“At SMA we aim to provide an accessible and more inclusive museum experience for people with all disabilities by offering them equal access to our museums, displays and programs,” added Ataya.

Guides who have extended experience in dealing with visually-impaired people will carry out the tactile tours.

In recognition of SMA’s efforts in supporting and enhancing the presence of people with disabilities, a number of SMA museums have been awarded the certificate of Accessible for Disability in the Museum category by The World Disability Union (WDU) in 2020 and 2021. – TradeArabia News Service




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