My Job at a Children’s Museum
If we were to ask a random sample of our sighted friends if a blind person could work at a children’s museum, the majority of those individuals might say no.
Well, my friends, I am here to erase that misconception. My name is Jonathan Franks and I work at an interactive children’s museum called the Thinkery in Austin, Texas that is focused on promoting science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics.
I have worked at this museum for a year and a half as a direct service staff member, taking on various responsibilities such as interacting with families and encouraging children to play with the various exhibits, maintaining and resetting the exhibits, informing families of the various programs that the museum is running, and answering any other inquiries that families have.
I also serve as a representative for the direct service staff members in the inclusion workgroup. The goal of this group is to ensure that the museum and all of its programs are accessible for each visitor and staff member. During the year, we work on promoting community spotlights to demonstrate our inclusivity. These spotlights cover topics including LGBTQ, Spanish heritage, foster families, disability awareness, and many other topics.
One of the many reasons I love working at this museum is that I am demonstrating that blind people can work in any kind of setting. It is also a huge educational platform for parents and children to learn about blindness from me. Every day that I work I am asked what my cane is and what it is used for, and I happily demonstrate why I use it and promote the values of the National Federation of the Blind by informing them how I live the life I want.
I strongly believe that informing children about the positive aspects of blindness will help them build acceptance of people with disabilities, and help them realize that we are high-functioning members of society and that we can work in any type of employment setting.
I met a physically disabled child who asked about my blindness and, after I talked with him for a few minutes about how I work at the museum, he talked to me about how he was an artist and how he utilized alternative techniques to do his art projects.
I am thankful to have not faced many challenges as a blind person while working at the Thinkery, but I have come across a few occasions where I have had to advocate for myself and the other employees with disabilities that work at the museum. All of those instances, though, have ended well.
I do have to be cognizant of the children running around so that they do not trip over my cane (which happens every day).
I was fortunate to win employee of the month for my hard work and initiative this past January. Even though I know I will eventually move on once I graduate with my master’s degree next year, I am definitely appreciative of this job. I am developing pertinent job skills and memories, and deepening my understanding that blind individuals can truly work alongside our sighted counterparts on an equal platform.