Notes and questions from the Accessibility session at the Museums and the Web Conference 2017.
Table 1 Questions
What is the potential visitor’s pathway to getting information? What are the questions these various communities need to have answered:
- blind or low vision
- wheelchair or limited mobility
- doesn’t speak the language
- can’t drive/public transportation
- breast-feeding mother
- deaf or hearing-impaired: ASL or assisted listening devices/TTY
- autism spectrum
- aging population: bypass a line?
- olfactory sensitivities
- service animals
- distances: how much walking?
- Map with location of accessible parking & entrances
Table 2 Questions
How does accessibility influence programs?
- without undermining content
- e.g. exhibition design e.g. height of shelves etc.
- Inclusive design is an easier sell (useful to greater audiences) as opposed to accessibility
- Impact of accessibility on design. Resentment or ambivalence to accessibility guidelines if it constrains them.
- Different thinking required: e.g. a button to trigger the accessible version
- everything is subjective, so one person’s design/aesthetic guideline may not be someone else’s
How do we view disability in general?
- it’s not all just visible disabilities
- it then expands to those who require accessibility considerations
- it can be injuries to those who don’t have disabilities
- can start with low cost ways: signage and awareness
- connect with the organizations that support and are part of the community
- to also help with training
Table 3 Questions
- hungry for a toolkit — including guiding questions on how to even start thinking about this — sets agenda
- mandate…start from the very beginning – not tacked on at the end
- prompts for each project
- strategy for accessibility champion – how do you include it as apart of a process
- different toolkit — technology checklist item
- investing in staff resources – dedicated staff hours
- every department had a specialist addressing accessibility needs
- designers not present for our group — they should be made aware and part of the force for change
- use case scenarios as part of manual – easy entry points, low hanging fruit, scale it up
- shared resources and language – contracts, labels, etc
- data – for justification / arguments for inclusion
- Dialog in the Dark – exhibition in germany – O.Noir *
- SEGD accessibility tour *
- create empathy —> step 1
Table 4 Questions
Physical space and digital properties – different departments all responsible for those entities
- How do we establish standards for both?
- How do we agree on similar goals?
- How to begin? Accessibility affects so many aspects of the museum business
Cal Academy – physical space is inclusive and accessible, but the digital space is less so
- Language center – ability to translate pages
- New to the organization – is the website even up to the standards to be compliant
Internal resources to devote to tackling accessibility
- Where do you start? It’s a daunting task to solve all of the problems simultaneously
- Types of disabilities that need to be addressed – Socioeconomic? Different types of disabilities that need to be addressed
China – very new topic to be addressed, interested in learning from other countries and practices
- Canadian Museum for Human Rights – Accessibility options on the website (newer websites may have access to newer standards)
Education – having to shift the organization’s perspective at all levels to create change
- Who can we talk to and how can we reach them to address the needs of our community/visitors?
- User testing/user focus groups
- Events/programs that are inclusive to groups with disabilities
- Raising awareness – how do you tackle training/changing internal culture to appropriately serve those with disabilities
- How does a blind person engage with a website? What are they looking for? What is that embodied experience like? Need to gain more insight into challenges that we (without disabilities) don’t even think about?
- Budgets – how do you fit these programs/initiatives into a budget?
- Is it more expensive to design a website or a digital product with accessibility in mind? Is that illegal or should it be?
Table 5 Questions
- Given a limited budget and resources, how do we prioritize which functional needs to serve?
- What are some methods that we can use to do an accessibility assessment or our institutions?
- How do we educate staff and decision-makers?
- How do we make sure that these policies are sustainable and built into the culture of your museum and way of working?
- How do we keep our museums from siloing audiences by their functional needs, and instead recognize that they are also families, students, they just have non-standard requirements?
- How much does it really cost to enact policies? Does it increase program costs exponentially or are there incremental and sustainable ways to enact access policies?
- Is there a tipping point when making products more accessible begins to lessen the comfort level or aesthetic experience of the majority?
- Who are the experts in the field that we can turn to to gain confidence that we’re doing the right things?
Major questions for all institutions to consider
- What is the scope of the problem? Who are the audiences or groups that don’t have access right now?
- Does it extend to socio-economic distinctions or cultural backgrounds?