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Greece’s EMST Museum Aiming to Become Autism-friendly

Marking World Autism Awareness Day, celebrated on April 2, the National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST) in Athens presented plans to become autism-friendly and create a positive experience for its visitors on the spectrum.

The EMST is the first museum in Greece and in the EU to create the sensory conditions that will ensure the optimal experience for people with autism, increasing in this way accessibility to culture and education.

Among others, the museum will make available resources including pre-visit materials,  signage, support, sensory maps, staff training and other tools to help people on the spectrum and their companions prepare for and enjoy their visit to EMST, and has also designed sensory-friendly educational activities. 

The plan is being implemented with culture ministry funding for the 2020-21 period in collaboration with volunteer group TheHappyAct, which works to make entertainment and culture accessible to people on the autism spectrum.

“For the culture ministry, inclusion in culture and art is a priority,” said Culture Minister Lina Mendoni.

“Today on World Autism Awareness Day, a public organization, the National Museum of Contemporary Art, is taking pioneering steps on a European level, presenting a sensory accessibility guide that makes the museum space more open, friendlier, and accessible to children on the autism spectrum and to their families,” she added.

Participating in an educational program designed for children on autism spectrum during the event, Deputy Culture Minister Nicholas Yatromanolakis said the design of the innovative program started two years ago in collaboration with EMST.

“Speaking with parents of children on the autism spectrum today, it was clear how important it is to design universal accessibility policies in culture, not only for children but for the whole family,” he said. 

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. People with ASD may behave, communicate, interact, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. 

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