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Activities For Modules


Share the activities you create for your students that relate to Disability and Inclusion. We will add them to this site.
Send a description of the activity and any supporting resources you use (Word doc format), and indicate the module in which it is most appropriate. If you have photos you can send those too.
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Module 1 – State of the Field: Museum Accessibility

Module 2 – Understanding our Stakeholders: The Disability Community

Module 3 – Communicating and Interacting with People with Disabilities

Module 4 – Museum Acccess: Accessible Physical Space

Module 5 – Museum Access: Multimodal Engagement

Module 6 – Museum Access:Inclusive Practices by Museum Teams

Module 2 – Understanding Our Stakeholders: The Disability Community

Disability History Assignments

by William S. Walker, Cooperstown Graduate Program

Assignment 1: Living with AIDS

Reading: Tony Kushner, Angels in America: Millennium Approaches

View: How to Survive a Plague (film)

Students discuss depictions of people living with AIDS in the play and film.  They also explore the history of AIDS activism and the politics of gender, sexuality, and disability.  In addition, students do in-class presentations on museum exhibitions, programs, and websites that examine the past and present of living with AIDS and/or the history of AIDS activism

Samples Blog post by Cooperstown Graduate Program students:

Assignment 2: The Struggle for Disability Rights

View: Lives Worth Living: The Great Fight for Disability Rights (film)

Objects: Material culture from CGP teaching collection related to history of disability and disability rights (e.g. leg braces, “handicapped” parking sign, ADA button)

Students participate in a facilitated dialogue about the film and objects.  Questions for the dialogue include: What strategies did activists use to build support for legislation and highlight injustice and inequality in society? How did various activists work together and build coalitions to lobby for legislation? Who were some of the important leaders of the disability rights movement and what made them effective? What challenges and inequalities continue to exist in the area of disability rights and how might we address them?

 Assignment 3: The Misguided Quest to Perfect Humanity through Eugenics


— Special issue on public history and eugenics: The Public Historian 29, No. 3 (Summer 2007).

“Image Archive on the American Eugenics Movement,” DNA Learning Center

— Articles on Nazi eugenics from United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website

Joanna Schoen, “The Legacy of North Carolina’s Eugenics Program”

“North Carolina’s Eugenics History: Testimonies from Victims” 

Julie Rose (NPR), “A Brutal Chapter in North Carolina’s Eugenics Past”

Students explore the intersections of the history of disability, race, gender, sexuality, and science through the lens of eugenics.  In addition, they discuss the various ways museums have presented the history of eugenics and brainstorm new ideas for museum exhibitions and programs on the topic.

Module 3 – Communicating and Interacting with People with Disabilities

From Chris Catanese

Museum Consultant, Former Director of Visitor Experience, New-York Historical Society

Role Play Disabilities

Assign each student a disability or challenge. Have them visualize and describe potential barriers from the initial visit they make to the museum website, to the approach to the building, entering the building and encountering security, and the admissions desk to the gallery. Once they are in the gallery the interpretive accessible aspects outlined in Module 5 will be the focus. Then list what the museum could do to make the visit more accessible for that particular disability.


Contact your university’s office for accessibility services and volunteer to work on an upcoming event or project where you will communicate and interact with people having various disabilities.

Organize a Panel of Visitors with Disabilities

Put together a small panel or workshop as outlined in this module for your class or the larger school community.

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Module 4 – Museum Access: Physical Access

From Cassandra Demski
Curator of Education, Grounds For Sculpture, Hamilton, NJ

Role Play Jobs

Put students into groups. Have each person in a group pick a museum job out of a hat. Then give each group of students a concept for an exhibit or program. Each student must explain how his or her job would be involved in making that exhibit or program accessible.

Role Play Disabilities

Assign each student a disability or challenge. Have them list some of the barriers to enjoying a museum visit. Then list what the museum could do to make the visit more accessible for that particular disability.


From Annie Leist
Special Projects Lead, Art Beyond Sight

Interview A Local Museum Professional

Have students focus on a museum team of interest to them, possibly a future career path. Then have students reach out to a professional on that team at a local museum. Interview that person about how their museum addresses accessibility questions, and what role if any they play. Students could write up the conversation to present to the class. Or students could create imaginary proposals for a project they work on with their chosen museum professional related to accessibility and inclusion.

Explore Mobile Apps and Accessibility

Ask students to choose a mobile app being used by a museum or cultural institution of their choice and review it from the perspective of accessibility. Does it work well with a screen reader? Does it have verbal description, captioned video, or other content aimed at users with disabilities? This might require additional research on the students’ part, or collaboration with local organizations for people with disabilities. What works well? What doesn’t? How might the app be improved? This assignment could also be done with websites, or with interactive technology in the museum itself.

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Module 5 – Museum Access: Multimodal

From Lynn McRainey, Elizabeth F. Cheney Director of Education at the Chicago History Museum

Explore One Gallery

When visiting a museum, select one gallery in an exhibition. Identify and discuss the different ways key messages could be communicated without using written labels. Consider how different interactive experiences might benefit audiences with different abilities.

Experience Verbal Description

Listen to a variety of verbal descriptions of paintings, sculptures, places, and buildings. Select one example not familiar to you and listen to the auditory description trying not to look at the image on your screen. Consider how the narrator’s choice of words paints an image in your mind.

Write a Verbal Description

Select an object or building and have everyone write a verbal description of the selected piece. Have each student read aloud their narrative. Discuss how different words and ordering of information is more successful.

Verbal Description Outside the Gallery

In addition to describing collections, identify  other contexts in which verbal description could be used. For example, describing the exterior of the museum or the space in which a program is occurring such as an auditorium or classroom.

 Discuss Tactile Experiences

Discuss successful examples of how tactile, hands-on experiences have been used in different exhibitions. How have these experiences benefited different ages and abilities of members of a group? How did the experiences encourage curiosity, exploration, and discovery for young and old, sighted and blind visitors? How do the tactile experiences prompt conversations or raise questions for further examination or discussion?

Evaluate Others for Accessibility

Explore the web to see how museums and cultural organizations are communicating available accommodations. Select a city, either where you currently reside or any city of interest. Then, identify four museums and one performing arts program. Visit the website of these five organizations to review their “Accessibility” listing. Do you give any a five star ranking and why?

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Module 6 – Museum Access: Inclusive Practices by Museum Teams

From Gretchen Sullivan Sorin, Ph.D.   Director, Distinguished Service Professor Cooperstown Graduate Program, SUNY Oneonta, Cooperstown, NY

I do an exercise with my students that requires them to go into a museum and find a label and evaluate it for accessibility (using a checklist) for a variety of audiences. I have them sketch it and write the label verbatim. I like this exercise because it is active rather than passive—simply reading about accessibility. I also ask the students to redesign the label and we discuss what the museum could do to improve its accessibility.

Exhibition Label Search — Find a museum to critique: Print the label verbatim

Answer the following questions about the text of the label:
1. Who do you think is the intended audience?
2. Is the vocabulary appropriate for the audience? Why or Why not?
3. What do you like/dislike about the label?
4. What is the relationship between the label and the artifacts that it supports?
5. Describe the writing style. Is it accessible to a general audience? Why or Why not?
6. Does the text relate to the objects? Does each bring clarity to the other?
7. Does the text deepen your understanding of the story?
8. Does the text help you to look more closely at the objects?
9 Are technical terms and foreign words or phrases explained or defined

Consider the design and physical accessibility of the label
Take a photograph of the label or do a sketch of the label within its context. What other things are near the label?(It’s near artifacts relating to the story. It’s near the bathrooms, and back so far I have to squint to read it)
Use this checklist to critique the accessibility of the label:

AAM Guidelines for Label Accessibility

Is the type size appropriate to the viewing distance? No smaller than one-quarter of an inch. (The Indianapolis Children’s Museum does not use labels smaller than 30 point.)
Does the label use a sans-serif (or modified) serif type-face with easily recognizable characters?
Are bold or large type used to highlight or emphasize key data?
Does the label use standard character proportions?
Is there sufficient space between letters, words, and lines of type?
Is there wide spacing between letters for signs?
Is there high-contrast between the type and the background?
Are the materials used nonglossy and glare-free?
Is the label color or shade different from the background (wall or deck) in the exhibition gallery
How is the label hung? Is it too high or too low?

Optimal installation–Wall labels centered at 54 inches from the floor
Case labels attached to the outside of the case (only when extremely necessary) at a height of between 36 and 48 inches and at an angle of between 30 and 45 degrees.

Are labels placed in a consistent location making them easy to find?
Is lighting adequate and even over the entire surface of the label?
Is the text too long. Could all visitors stand to read it? Is the text for object labels 75 words or less?

From: Standards Manual for Signs and Labels, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Association of Museums, 1995, p 8-9

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