Disability Awareness Training

Creating an Accessible Museum:

Universal, or Human-centered, Design

“We have the power through design to minimize
or exaggerate disabling experiences.” Adaptivelogo

Valerie Fletcher, Institute for Human-Centered
Design at Adaptive Environments, Boston, MA


This section is a brief introduction to the issues and possibilities involved in creating an accessible museum and program. For more detailed information, please visit our Accessibility Tools Training.

What is Accessibility and Universal Design?

Universally Designed Museum Programs

Universal Design in Museums (1:06)

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Media player icon showing Rebecca McGinnis

Rebecca McGinnis, Accessibilty Coordinator, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, on Universally Designed Museum Programs.

When planning museum programming that is accessible and inclusive, useful points of reference are the principles created for the Universal Design for Learning Environments, developed by CAST (Center for Applied Special Technology). Components of a universally designed classroom curriculum include:

Universal Design in Exhibits: A Brief Overview

TactilemapUniversal Design principles are applied to exhibit design to create an environment or experience that is usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.


Characteristics of accessible design:

Accessible Web

HandsandkeyboardFor those unfamiliar with accessibility issues pertaining to Web page design, consider that many users may operate in contexts very different from your own.



Content developers must consider these different situations during page design. While there are several situations to consider, each accessible design choice generally benefits several disability groups at once and the Web community as a whole.

Accessible Web Guidelines and Resources

One tool that blind people have to use with computers is called a screen reader, software that reads aloud what is on a computer screen and provides navigational cues. There are many different screen readers. A popular one is called JAWS (Job Access With Speech).

Click on the screen at right to hear how JAWS works.

How a JAWS Screen Reader Works (1:15)

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Disability Awareness Training
  A New Paradigm
  WHO New Definition of Disability
    Social or Human Rights New Model
    Accessibility and "Invisible" Disabilities
  Defining Accessibility
  Why Access to the Arts?
    Artists' Perspective
  Personal Perspective
    Legal Perspective
    Economic Perspective
    Institutional Perspective
  Accessibility Skills
    People-first Language
    Disability Stereotypes
    Communication Tips
    Sighted Guide Technique
  Assistive Technologies
    Mobility Accommodations
    Sensory Accommodations
    Cognitive Accommodations
  An Accessible Museum: Universal Design
  Tools For Accessibility
  Practical Exercises


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