Disability and Inclusion Training for Museums and Cultural Institutions

This 60-slide presentation is designed for museums, historic sites, art centers, and other cultural institutions. It can be used for staff and educator training as well as self-study.

 Review of the Sighted Guide Technique

What Cultural Institutions Need to Know about Service Animals?

 guide doc

Service animals are defined 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.

When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (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.

 Department of Justice 2010 Revisions of the Definition and Requirements Re Service Animals

This video created by our Norwegian colleagues might give you a new perspective on service animals

Please complete the survey after you have tested these materials.

Your feedback is much appreciated.

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Which of the following did you/will you do (check all that apply):

If you used or plan to use some/all of ABS’s online materials for a training, did you/will you include people with disabilities in the training as speakers or panelists?

Regarding your review of the Power Point: Please rate the following sections as too long, good as is, or missing important information (explain.

• The opening section: Why Access is Important (slides 1-9)

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• Definition of Disability (slides 10-18)

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Welcoming people with disabilities, including physical disabilities (slides 19-25)

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• Welcoming people who are D/deaf or hard of hearing (slides 26-28)

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• Welcoming people with dementia (slides 29-31)

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• Welcoming people on the Autism spectrum (slides 32-37)

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• Welcoming people are blind or visually impaired (slides 38-47)

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• Accommodations for people with disabilities (slides 48-52)

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• Creating an Accessible Environment (slides 53-58)

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Your Name, Affiliation, and Email Address

Visitors with disabilities
and their role in the training

When you are conducting an in-person staff training, it is critical that  representatives of the local community of people with disabilities play an active role in your training. All Art Beyond Sight in-person trainings feature a panel of people with disabilities and facilitate candid dialog between staff and panelists. It is important for the staff of cultural institutions to interact directly with visitors and future visitors with disabilities (and their families), not  only with organization that provide services for this community. Please refer to the videos here (and others on Art Beyond Sight YouTube Channel) for the first person accounts and suggestions from art and museum patrons with disabilities.

Advice from with Museum Visitors with Various Disabilities

Dr. Betsy Zaborowski, former Executive Director of the National Federation of the Blind’s Jernigan Institute, offers advice and inspiration for museums in creating accessibility for blind visitors.


What I would like from a museum? Sheila Leigland is blind and lives in Great Falls, Montana. She is a member of the Montana Association for the Blind.


How does it feel to be blind? A personal story from Dr. Betsy Zaborowski, former Executive Director, National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute


Hearing Loss: What does it mean to be hard of hearing? Joseph Gordon, a New Yorker and avid museum goer, describes his hearing loss and appropriate language for referring to people with hearing loss.


Hearing Loss: Successful Museum Experiences. Joseph Gordon describes his recent visit to the Museum of Modern Art in New York.


Closed captions, open captions, and t-loops and their use for visitors who are hard of hearing.


Kim Mack Rosenberg, president of the National Autism Association (NY Metro Chapter), on preparing for the museum visit of a person with autism


Autism: Advice to Museum Staff


Autism: Performing Arts and Music


Aimee Mullens, athlete, fashion icon, actor, advocate, and design innovator speaking at the Project Access New York/Art Beyond Sight symposium at the Museum of Modern Art, May 2, 2013.



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