One of the best reading assignments from the colloquium was the Spring 2005 edition of The Public Historian. Reading this selection sparked many ideas and thoughts about my dissertation process, and it also led to several professional development opportunities. The main points that I took away from the reading were that sensitivity and awareness are lacking among museum professionals and public historians in general. Additionally, the Americans with Disabilities Act has been embraced by many organizations, but most organizations are not thinking beyond that. Many organizations have not yet reached out to welcome different groups to their museums or organizations. Inviting these groups to ask them what should happen is an integral part of community relationships, and this also gives the community a sense of ownership.
As an extra project, I am currently researching, planning, and coordinating a workshop and mini-conference to be held at MTSU in the fall of 2012. This event is being sponsored by the American Association for State and Local History and several other organizations throughout the area. The theme is accessibility, sensitivity, and disability awareness in museums, and the target audience is museum professionals, museum educators, special education teachers, and graduate students. Additionally, I have contacted and scheduled out-of-state speakers to widen the scope of the workshop and to attract new audiences to our programs. The workshop will not only inform my dissertation research, but it should also be a great opportunity for MTSU and the History Department to get very positive publicity.
The workshop is called Disability and Your Cultural Organization: Sensitivity and Strategies for Going Beyond ADA. It will be held Saturday November 3, 2012 from 9AM – 3 PM at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
Morning sessions include Keynote Speaker Krista Flores, Program Specialist, Smithsonian Institution Accessibility Program, additional speakers: Karen Wade, Director of Homestead Museum, Los Angeles County, California and Dr. Lisa Pruitt, Middle Tennessee State University. Additionally, a panel of various experts in the fields of education, museums, special education, recreation and more will be available! Afternoon Breakout sessions will include case studies, information about specific issues, and think-tank opportunities. Registration Fees will include lunch and all workshop materials. Please email Katie Stringer at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details, questions, or registration information
 The Public Historian, Vol. 27, No. 2 (Spring 2005). Special issue on “Disability and the Practice of Public History,” Susan Burch and Katherine Ott, guest editors.