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What Museum Front Line Staff Need to Know

Visitor Services, Educators, Security, Docents, Volunteers

This Module identifies the disabilities that museum front line staff typically encounter. It focuses on five major disability communities and outlines what front line staff need to know to serve museum visitors and communicate respectfully with them. We do not mean to ignore other disabilities not included in this section. Many of the techniques detailed here will be appropriate for any visitor who has other visible or invisible disabilities.

    Blind or Visually Impaired

    Deaf or Hard of Hearing

    Mobility Impairments

    Cognitive Impairments

    Invisible Impairments

People-First Language

People-First Language emphasizes the person, not the disability. A disability is not the primary, defining characteristic of an individual, rather just one of several aspects of the whole person.  People-First Language repects this fact by putting an emphasis upon the person not the disability.  It is preferable to communicate with visitors using People-First Language.  And, as always, if you don’t know how to describe someone, it’s best to ask the person what he or she prefers.

Some examples of People-First Language:

People-First Language

Language Not to Use

people with disabilities the handicapped or disabled
he has an intellectual disability he’s mentally retarded
my son has autism my son is autistic
she has Down syndrome she’s a Downs kid, a mongoloid
he has a learning disability he’s learning disabled
he’s of short stature or he’s short he’s a dwarf (or midget)
she has an emotional disability she’s emotionally disturbed
he uses a wheelchair he’s wheelchair bound or confined to a wheelchair
typical kids or kids without disabilities normal or healthy kids
she receives special education services/support services,accessible parking, bathrooms, etc she’s in special ed
she has a physical disability she’s crippled
she has a need for she has a problem with


Blind or Visually Impaired Visitors – What to Know

people on a museum tourWhen someone who is visibly blind or visually impaired enters the museum, the first staff member to greet them should always ask if they “would like assistance” (avoiding the word “need”) as it may be their first time in the building. They should be directed to the most appropriate point of entry (admissions desk, directly to galleries if it’s a free museum, coat check or restrooms if they request either or both). Admissions desk staff should have handy any adaptive elements such as a braille, large print or tactile versions of the museum floorplan,  and any gallery pieces if they are not kept inside the gallery.

 Security guards should be very sensitive to any potential barriers for blind and visually impaired visitors especially if the visitor has a white cane. If a visitor has a white cane, make sure they are aware of potential tripping hazards. One common and tricky element in museum lobbies is floor stanchions, typically used to create queuing lines at the admissions desk as well as to protect art.

photo of floor stanchions(More on stanchions in this PDF)



Braille and Large Print

The front desk staff should also have large print versions of the museum floorplan, ideally with a tactile or raised line version of the floorplan. If there are braille versions of the floor plan or select exhibition texts, the staff should also know where they are located and make sure they are up to date.

A note on brailled materials. Braille is a tricky element in a museum setting. Below are some of the considerations:

  • It can be expensive to produce documents in Braille.
  • You typically have to reduce the amount of content because braille takes up far more space and uses much thicker paper so that a basic gallery guide ends up being as heavy as a text book.
  • For a visitor who may already have a white cane or a service dog, carrying around a brailled document is unwieldy and requires a seat in order to read it.
  • Not all visitors who are legally blind can read Braille. Only about 10% of  people who are legally blind can read braille.

By no means does this mean that a museum should not do everything possible to accommodate braille users when it’s appropriate, but often even ardent Braille users agree that carrying a heavy document around the museum is not going to lead to a positive visitor experience.

 Audio Described Media

audio description iconVerbal description audio or audio described media.can also accommodate visitors who are blind or have low vision. Verbal description essentially describes the object before interpreting it for the visitors who can’t see it. It is typically part of existing audio tours so front line staff should ensure that visitors who have vision issues know about their museum’s audio tours.

The logo for verbal description or audio described media is an uppercase AD with three sound waves coming off the D.

 Text-to-Speech Software

Text to speech is a form of speech synthesis that converts text into spoken voice output. Text to speech systems were first developed to aid the visually impaired by offering a computer-generated spoken voice that would “read” text to the user. While many uses of text-to-speech software (screen readers) are for personal use on an individual’s own technology (computer, laptop, tablet, smartphone) there are several key uses of this technology that can help improve visitor experience and front line staff should understand how people with vision loss use it to navigate through their museum’s digital content and information.

Apple mobile products (iPhone, iPad) are very popular within the visually impaired community because of their very successful VoiceOver interface. For Android users, the comparable application is called TalkBack and functions similarly. VoiceOver and TalkBack tell the user what is on the screen that they can’t see or can’t see as well as fully sighted users. The basic interface replaces single-touch “clicking” with double-touch “clicking.” When the user touches something once the automated voice in their device identifies, out loud, the button/app/link/image/document. If the user taps twice it opens. The user can also control the speed of the reader up to as much as  300x the traditional speaking rate.

Walei Sabry at podiumWalei Sabry, Consultant on Disability Access Technology

Sabry demonstrates how to use several iPhone apps geared towards those with vision loss. The first few minutes are a good introduction to how VoiceOver works.

Fourteen minutes into the video Sabry discusses the importance of correctly labeling every button, app, link, image, and document in an app for screen readers.

Sighted Guide Technique

Sa hand holding an elbowighted Guide is a technique in which a person with vision acts as a guide for a person who is blind or has low vision. In the basic sighted guide technique, the person who is blind or has low vision holds the guide’s arm lightly above the back of the elbow and allows the guide to walk one-half step ahead. This allows him or her to feel and follow the guide’s direction. A museum visitor may ask for a Sighted Guide. Short videos in the Multimedia Presentations section of this Module demonstrate Sighted Guide.

On the Art Beyond Sight website, you can watch or download a short PowerPoint:

Review of the Sighted Guide Technique

Slide from Sighted Guide Powerpoint

 Service Animals

stockxpertcom_id8812852_766e5f1e9692e36aea712152138300dbAs of March 15, 2011, only dogs are recognized as service animals under titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Below is how the ADA defines a service animal.

The ADA defines service animals as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA. Some State and local laws also define service animal more broadly than the ADA does. Information about such laws can be obtained from the State attorney general’s office.

If a visitor comes into your museum with an animal that does not have a vest clearly denoting “service animal” and it is not clear what the disability may be, museum staff are allowed to ask only two very specific questions:
(1) “Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?”
(2) “What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?”

Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.

If the person does not respond with one of the disabilities discussed in this module that are approved to have service animals, it is up to the museum to decide whether the visitor may enter with their pet. . If an animal with a visitor barks or acts aggressively it is highly unlikely it is a trained service animal.  Service animals are trained not to bark or act aggressively.. If a service dog does acts in an uncontrollable manner and the handler does not control it or if the dog is not housebroken, the museum may ask the visitor to remove the animal from the premises. The visitor should be welcomed to continue their visit without the animal should they wish to do so.

For more detailed information about specific regulations related to service animals and the ADA (including new regulations related to miniature horses as service animals) please visit this page.

norway video

For a humorous argument about why only dogs should be considered as service animals, watch this short video “It Could Have Been Worse,” by the Norwegian Association of the Blind.

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Blind and Visually Impaired Visitors – What to Say and Do

  • Ask before providing assistance. Don’t assume help is needed. When asking, try to use the phrase “Would you like assistance?”
  • Never push, pull, or grab a person who is blind. This can be frightening, embarrassing, or even unsafe.
  • Use your normal voice. Most people who are blind have normal hearing. If you know the person has a hearing problem, focus on speaking clearly rather than shouting.
  • Introduce yourself each time you encounter a person with vision loss. Not everyone recognizes or remembers voices.
  • Identify yourself when entering a room and let the person know when you are leaving.
  • Identify yourself when a person who is blind enters the room or approaches you.
  • Don’t leave the person standing alone in an open space.
  • Don’t hesitate to use words like “look” and “see.” It’s ok to say things like “Did you see the Mets game last night?”
  • Give explicit directions like “on your left,” “five blocks north,” “directly behind you.” Avoid using hand signals or head nods. If you point or gesture, describe verbally what you are indicating.
  • Ask permission before touching someone who is blind, or his or her personal belongings.

chancey fleet at podium

Chancey Fleet, Assistive Technology Coordinator at the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library in New York.

Fleet demonstrates techniques for assisting museum visitors with assistive technology.


Some of this material is repeated in another section of this Module, “Communication Training for Staff,”  which contains a full list of  Tips for Interacting with People with Disabilities.

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D/deaf and Hard of Hearing Visitors – What to Know

stockxpertcom_id11441971_1558adf6fd78b741b1a21e617e562bfdMany people who are D/deaf communicate using American Sign Language and consider themselves to be members of a cultural and linguistic minority.  Other individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing communicate through listening and spoken language. It’s very important to respect this culture even if you are inexperienced with communicating with those who are members of it.

“Deaf,” “deaf,” and “hard of hearing” are categories used to refer to people with hearing disabilities. “Deaf” people (uppercase “D”) associate with the Deaf community/culture, while people who refer to themselves as hard of hearing or deaf may have some ability to hear and/or do not associate with the Deaf community/culture.

  • According to Carol Padden and Tom Humphries, in Deaf in America: Voices from a Culture (1988):
    “We use the lowercase deaf when referring to the audiological condition of not hearing, and the uppercase Deaf when referring to a particular group of deaf people who share a language – American Sign Language (ASL) – and a culture.  The members of this group have inherited their sign language, use it as a primary means of communication among themselves, and hold a set of beliefs about themselves and their connection to the larger society.  We distinguish them from, for example, those who find themselves losing their hearing because of illness, trauma or age; although these people share the condition of not hearing, they do not have access to the knowledge, beliefs, and practices that make up the culture of Deaf people.” (for more see
  • Many people in the Deaf community are unsure about the emergence of technology and medical procedures to allow hearing or partial hearing where it had previously not been possible. It can sometimes be a polarizing issue in the Deaf community. Some in this community have a very strong connection to American Sign Language and Deaf culture and can be offended when asked a question like “Have you considered cochlear implants?”

When visitors who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing enter your building it is often not obvious to front line staff that they have a hearing issue. If they are using American Sign Language (ASL), you may be able to spot that at a distance, but hearing aids are more difficult to spot. Since oral communication is a critical part of the visitor experience when a visitor first arrives, it is essential to have clear visible signage telling visitors what services are available to them.


logo for t-loopAt the admissions desk there are many things a museum can do to accommodate d/Deaf and hard-of-hearing visitors. If the visitor wears a T-coil hearing aid or a T-coil cochlear implant, signage at the admissions desk can let the visitor know that the admissions desk is equipped with a T-coil induction loop (see Adaptive Technologies  for a more detailed description of T-coil equipment).

The T-coil logo features a large ear with a dark band extending from the lower-left corner to the upper-right corner, and an uppercase T in the lower-right corner with the wording at the bottom “Hearing Loop/Switch hearing aid to T-coil.” While the ADA guidelines related to assistive listening devices do not explicitly state that museums and other Title III entities are required to install T-coil loops, T-coil integration is becoming more and more the norm. If a visitor asks about this technology, staff should know if the museum has T-coil loops and, if they have them, where they are.   They might be in galleries, theaters and/or classrooms. A T-coil logo placed on or near all T-coil locations can further help alert visitors to the presence of the

When a T-coil hearing aid user flips their T-coil switch it turns off the normal amplification function of their hearing device so they can only hear what is coming through the T-coil.

 Open Captioninglogo for open captioning

Open captioning is similar to closed captioning on a television and subtitling typically seen on foreign films. The difference is that open captions cannot be turned off. Open captioning is added during the production of a video production; the captions are “burned” onto the video. To the right is the symbol for open captioning. Information about the availability of open captioned videos should be available at the museum’s information desk.

janice lintz at podium

Janice S. Lintz, CEO of Hearing Access and Innovations.

The Current State of Captioning Standards for People Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing





 Assistive Listening Devices

Another accommodation for visitors who are d/Deaf or Hard of Hearing is the Assistive Listening Device (ALD). These are individual units that allow the user to control the level of the audio portion of films or the sound of lectures via infrared or radio frequencies. Typically these would be used in a museum’s theater. They might also be used for guided tours. The units are distributed individually to visitors so clear signage that alerts visitors to their availability is a must. Front line staff should:logo for assistive listening devices

  • Know where all ALDs are kept
  • Know how to use them and basic trouble shooting (volume, batteries)
  • Be clear with visitors about what they should do with the unit when they have finished using it.

Certain ALDs are also able to transmit via an induction neck loop. The logo for ALDs is similar to the T-coil logo, but the thick band is replaced by a dotted line with two sound waves directly behind the ear in the upper-right-hand corner.

If a museum is showing a film or video that is not open captioned and ALDs are not available, it must provide a transcript of the audio. The transcript can be included in the same document as the large-print text that is provided for visitors with low-vision.

It’s important to remember that ALDs and T-coil induction loops are of no use to a visitor who has no hearing at all.

American Sign Language ASL Deaf ABCDFor Deaf visitors who use ASL and come in either by themselves or with a group who are all ASL users, visitor services staff should not panic! Visitors who do not speak English come into American museums every day. Front line staff should be prepared for greeting visitors who use ASL just as they would a visitor who does not speak English.

A staff person should not feel guilty that they do not speak ASL or that the museum does not have an ASL interpreter available. Most museums will provide ASL interpreters free of charge for education programs, public programs and guided tours so long as they have two weeks advance notice*. If visitors using ASL come in without having requested an interpreter, staff are encouraged to use any ASL they may know and/or follow the speech reading/lip reading guide in this module and/or communicate by writing down the information if they have to. As always, the staff person should ask the visitor how they would like to communicate.

*All Title III entities are required by ADA to provide an ASL interpreter at the entity’s expense (unless it represents an undue financial burden) for a program that would typically be led by an educator/docent/tour guide. Museums are allowed to require reasonable advance notice (typically two weeks). While there are many institutions both large and small who cannot provide certain types of auxiliary aids because it would represent an undue financial burden, most institutions would be expected to provide the funding for ASL interpreters when they are requested with appropriate advance notice. See ADA Title III regulations.

 CART (Computer Aided Realtime Translation)

drawing of a CART setupCommunication Access Real-Time Translation (CART), also called open captioning or simply real-time captioning, is the name of the system that court reporters, closed captioners and voice writers, and others use to convert speech to text. A trained operator uses keyboard or stenography methods to transcribe spoken speech into written text. Many museums offer CART captioning for events and programs. If CART captioning services are requested by a visitor or group (typically with several weeks’ notice) a CART services company sends a professional court reporter who uses a stenographer’s machine attached to a computer.

The computer translates the stenotype shorthand into English and displays it on a computer monitor or large screen.

D/deaf and Hard of Hearing Visitors – What to Say and Do

  • Always avoid the terms “deaf and mute” and “deaf and dumb.Deaf and dumb is a phrase whose use can be traced back to Aristotle. The term “mute” is inaccurate because many people who are deaf have some use of their vocal chords and all can communicate fluently in some manner so they are not actually mute. (excerpted from
    • Many people in the D/deaf and hard of hearing communities also dislikes the term hearing impaired because the word impaired is a negative that implies that something is broken and needs to be fixed.
  • Ask the person how he or she prefers to communicate (e.g., lip/speech reading, writing, sign language, interpreter, T-coil/induction loop audio, etc.) and accommodate as best you can.
    • Many museums in the US (and all museums in the UK) have adopted T-coil/induction loop technology for both interpretive audio in exhibitions and programs as well as at their admissions desk. This technology is relatively inexpensive and easy to install. The T-coil logo alerts hearing aid users that they can simply flip a switch on their hearing aid and hear the needed sound as if they were listening to a radio station. This can be especially helpful at museum admissions desks which are often located in cavernous lobbies with a great deal of noise.
  • When speaking with a deaf person, speak in a normal tone of voice.
  • Reduce background noise as much as you can if the person has some ability to hear.
  • If you are speaking through an interpreter, remember that the interpreter may lag a few words behind. Pause occasionally.
  • Talk directly to the person who is D/deaf or hard of hearing, not the interpreter.
  • Facilitate speech reading/lip reading by:
  • Facing into the light.
  • Making sure you have the person’s attention before you start to speak.
  • A wave or a light touch on the shoulder are appropriate ways to get his/her attention.
  • Keeping hands and other objects away from your mouth.
  • Facing the person directly.
  • Maintaining eye contact.
  • Standing still and not walking around or turning your back on the person.
  • Asking if you don’t understand; ask the person to repeat what she/he said or to write it down.
  • Speaking in a clear and expressive manner.
  • Speaking naturally: don’t over enunciate or exaggerate words and do not raise your voice.
  • Remember that not all D/deaf individuals can lip-read. For those who can, lip reading is only effective roughly 50% of the time, with the remainder understood through context.  Sometimes words are missed and many words look the same on the lips, such as when forming words containing “f” and “v”, “s” and “z”, “sh” and “ch” and “b”, “m” and “p”. As a result, names of people, places, or things (words that cannot be “figured out”) should be spelled out.

Some of this material is repeated in another section of this Module, “Communication Training for Staff,” which contains a full list of Tips for Interacting with People with Disabilities.

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 Mobility Impairments – What to Know

man pushing a woman outdoorsVisitors with mobility impairments can often be easily identified because they use mobility devices like manual or power wheelchairs, electric scooters, or golf carts, walkers, canes, crutches, or braces. Recently, devices categorized as Other Power-Driven Mobility Devices (OPDMDs) such as Segways becomephoto of a segway popular as mobility devices especially with returning veterans who were injured while serving abroad.

Some individuals without a disability choose to use scooters, golf carts and Segways for easier travel. If someone uses one of these devices but does not have a disability you are not legally bound to allow them to enter your museum. You may also ask them to leave if you have safety concerns for other visitors or for your collection.

(For more on the Department of Justice’s January 2014 new regulations regarding mobility devices and OPDMDs)

Information should be available about wheelchair-accessible restrooms, elevators/wheelchair lifts, and wheelchair seating in theaters or spaces with fixed seating. Front line staff should be aware of places that are inaccessible to visitors in wheelchairs and OPDMDs as well as the procedures for checking out temporary wheelchairs.

Mobility Impairments – What to Say and Do

  • Respect personal space and belongings. Ask before touching or moving wheelchairs, crutches, canes, and walkers.
  • Ask permission before you start pushing someone’s wheelchair or physically touching/supporting someone in any way. Listen, and respect individual preferences.
  • Try to be eye to eye.  If the person is in a wheelchair, try to sit down so that you can look one another in the eye.

Some of this material is repeated in another section of this Module, “Communication Training for Staff,” which contains a full list of Tips for Interacting with People with Disabilities.

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Cognitive Impairments – What to Know

Screen shot 2014-12-11 at 10.28.22 AMIt may be hard to know if a visitor has a cognitive impairment. But if you are aware of a visitor’s cognitive issue and also aware of issues related to your building or programming that could adversely affect their visit, you must let them know. For example, for visitors with autism you may want to let someone in their group know that a video presentation has several very loud sections or that a certain exhibition is extremely crowded and difficult to move through freely. These are both potentially challenging environments for someone with .

Many museums offer wonderful programs for people with autism and for people with dementia. While these programs are occurring (or being scheduled) it’s essential to take into consideration other activity that may be happening at the museum that day. If possible, try to schedule programs for quiet locations.

Cognitive Impairments – What to Say and Do

For People with Autism:

  • Autism is a broad-spectrum disorder. Some people with autism are unable to verbalize. If a person does not respond to a verbal question, assume they understood you, but may not be able to speak. If possible, offer another means of communication, such as pen/paper, or a tablet.
  • Many people with autism have auditory processing difficulties. Do not give multi-step commands or use run-on sentences. Straightforward, clear remarks are best.
  • Some people with autism are sensitive to touch, and some may react with intensity when touched. Museum and security staff should be aware of this and act accordingly. For instance, if the person with autism does not appear to welcome physical contact, do not try to shake hands.
  • Many people with autism appear disconnected, may not make eye contact, and may have stereotypy (stims) such as hand clapping or rocking (and some have verbal stims). Do not assume that they are not taking everything in.
  • People may stim for a variety of reasons (e.g., they are in an unfamiliar place or are excited). Stimming may be how a person with autism regulates incoming sensory stimulation to avoid being overwhelmed by stimuli. Do not discourage them, unless it presents a danger to them or to others.
  • People with autism may have visual processing difficulties. In particular, sudden and unexpected movement can be disturbing to them. Security staff should avoid rushing up to someone who, for instance, is stimming.
  • Crowds can be challenging for people with autism. Museum personnel should know where there are quiet spaces to which they can direct families of people with autism, if they request or require such quiet areas.
  • Loud noises can be disturbing and, conversely, low-level noises, such as buzzing from fluorescent lights (which also might flicker) can be bothersome. Be aware that something most people might not react to could be an issue for a person with autism whose sensory system is very sensitive.
  • If providing programs for groups of children or adults with autism, develop a social story about a visit to the museum that can be made available before the visit to the group or families with members with autism.
  • Previewing an experience and having a sense of what to expect is important to people on the autism spectrum. At the beginning of a group visit, set clear parameters and explain how long you will be doing certain activities.
  • Reminders and alert are important. For many people with autism, transitions can be difficult, so letting them know that a transition is coming up is important. Alert people in advance if you are entering a space with films or videos that include bright lights, loud noises, or abrupt actions.
  • Have a system in place to assist a person with autism who is lost in the museum. (This is particularly important for someone who is non-verbal or has limited verbal skills.) Consider providing special name tags or badges to families/groups that include a person or persons with autism. This would help reunite someone who is lost with his/her group.

For People with Dementia:

  • Be open hearted. People with dementia respond well to genuine hospitality.
  • Speak directly to the person. Assume that he/she is capable of responding.
  • Be patient in waiting for a response. It takes people with dementia longer to process information, especially when they are in a new environment.
  • When greeting a visitor with dementia, make eye contact with the person. Get to eye level.
  • Introduce yourself. Ask, “And you are?”
  • Do not automatically try to shake hands, as some people with dementia may not wish to be touched. Museum and security staff should be aware of this, and use discretion and judgment in initiating any form of physical contact.
  • Give clear directions to places such as waiting areas and restrooms. Do so one at a time, and use gestures to clarify directions.
  • When giving a group tour, introduce the group leader and provide a nametag in a large, bold font for each participant.
  • Use simple, bold signage to enhance orientation (For example: 4th floor, go right).
  • When moving through the museum on a group tour, be clear about where you are going. For instance, say, “We are taking this elevator to the 4th floor.”
  • Include people with dementia in the conversations and activities.
  • Listen. People with dementia often have important insights to share.

Some of this material is repeated in another section of this Module, “Communication Training for Staff,” which contains a full list of Tips for Interacting with People with Disabilities.

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Invisible Disabilities – What to Know

question markInvisible Disabilities is an umbrella term that covers a spectrum of hidden disabilities or challenges that are primarily neurological in nature and are not always obvious. They can limit a person’s daily activities and include conditions with symptoms such as shortness of breath, debilitating pain, fatigue, dizziness, weakness, cognitive dysfunction, learning differences and mental disorders, as well as hearing and vision impairments.  A person with a visible impairment or one who uses an assistive device such as a wheelchair, walker, or cane can also have invisible disabilities.   It is estimated that 10% of the people who live in the United States have an invisible disability.

Sometimes these disabilities are temporary, such as those resulting from an accident or occurring as a side effect of a medication.  They may also be incremental, happening gradually over time.  Most people over 60 have or will have “acquired limitations.”  As we age, we can’t walk as far or as fast, and our eyes, ears, and hands don’t work as well.

Nonetheless, the need for accessibility remains – for better lighting, larger print, magnified sound, accessible elevators and bathrooms, more seating. Therefore, the investment in making an institution and programming accessible can benefit a broad range of visitors and staff.  Often special education programs in museums are targeted to people with invisible disabilities.
(Adapted from “Invisible Disabilities Information: What are Invisible Disabilities?”  Retrieved November 21, 2013.)

Invisible Disabilities – What to Say and Do

Since front line staff may have no idea that someone has an invisible disability, it’s important for them to always keep it in mind. For example, if they get frustrated because a visitor is taking a very long time to count out their money when buying tickets they should remember that the visitor might have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder making what seems like a trivial transaction very challenging. Or if a security guard encounters a visitor lying on the floor in a remote corner of the building they should approach them with compassion as the person could be suffering from chronic back pain and museum visits can be grueling on the lower back.

People with invisible disabilities are often misunderstood and people often have unrealistic expectations of them because they “seem to be fine.” It’s important for front line staff to remember that someone who might b acting differently than you would expect may have an invisible disability.

Some of this material is repeated in another section of this Module, “Communication Training for Staff,” which contains a full list of Tips for Interacting with People with Disabilities.

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