Portions of the following slide show have appeared in two presentations and two publications:

  1. "Including Everyone...The 21st Century Museum", a presentation with David Miller to the International Conference on Designing for the 21st Century at Hofstra University, New York, June, 1998
  2. A presentation to the European Institute on Design and Disability at the National Gallery of Art, Dublin, in August, 1993. Issue 1, No. 1 of the EIDD Journal, in press
  3. The website of the Maryland Technology Assistance Program, Tapping Technology, October, 1998, "Access Abroad".

In the 21st Century Museum, "special" needs become universal requirements. Integral Design is a company dedicated to the idea that accessibility is an essential building block to the process of creating and growing a successful museum.

The following show discusses the role of Universal Design in modern museums and also demonstrates one nonvisual access technique for web surfers or audience members who are not able to see the pictures and graphics included in websites or audio-visual presentations.

Audio Description provides verbal or text descriptions of visual elements in great enough detail, and avoiding visual referents, to convey the main elements of the graphic and their relationship to one another. The standard way to provide audio description on a website is to link the text description to the capital letter "D". Although a "D" has been placed next to each image, here the audio description is displayed on the same page containing the graphic.

Miraculous new museums are being built...the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain is an American museum, but not located on American soil.

Guggenheim Museum

DD: A golden colored Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain appears on the cover of the New York Times Magazine. The shapes are fantastic - curved expanses of building resemble satin ribbon, and other cones and asymmetrical sections appear as unusual building blocks dumped in a pile by a playful giant. The title on the magazine cover reads: "Word is out that miracles still occur..."

The Getty Museum is very grand...and brand spanking new.

Getty Museum

DD: The Getty Museum in Los Angeles, CA - A modern white and marbled beige facade with a large tree in the center of a courtyard.

Larger-than-life puppets at the Getty create excitement.

Getty Museum Puppets

Huge puppets, about 15 feet high, walk down the steps in the Getty Museum courtyard. One puppet wears a yellow suit and red dunce's cap; the other a shiny blue dress and bright red hair with white face; a medieval costume.

Museum-goers come in all sizes.

Puppet and child

Another huge puppet in the Getty courtyard, posed in multicolored costume next to a tiny child, shows the relative size of the puppet: the child comes up to the knee of the puppeteer, the puppet towers another ten feet above.

Planning for visitor access, flow and convenience??? Benches are not included here....

Visitor Access

Fifty people queued next to train tracks; six tall white columns hide the rails. Velvet ropes mark the queue.

Even rooftops at the Getty are adorned with native flora.

Getty Rooftop

A rooftop adorned with several different types of cactus plants overlooks a splendid view of Los Angeles with the Pacific Ocean in the background

Case Study #1: The Museum of the American Printing House for the Blind, Louisville, KY

A Special Purpose Museum Main Audience: Blind individuals and their friends, families, colleagues. Also attractive to the General Public.

Tactile graphic displays allow a certain type of access by blind individuals. Not all visual materials are effectively displayed in this mode...

Tactile map

A tactile map is shown. A pair of men's hands are seen examining a tactile map of the United States.

...however, some 3D displays are interesting both visually and via tactile exploration.

Tactile Exhibit

Tactile exhibit: A box labeled "Kenya" with four 3D life-size objects in a display case atop it: Gorilla, chimp, monkey and human hands.

Allowing limited tactile access to artifacts can be simple, attractive and safe.

Braille Display

A woman's hand with red fingernails lifts a clear Lucite panel in front of a Braille writer display. Another Braille writer device is shown alongside.

Infotainment is a force to be reckoned with in today's museum.

Magazine Collage

A collage of a magazine article: "The Mouse Downtown" and a red bordered photo labeled "Disney", shows Mickey Mouse. Text reads: "A most famous mouse is starring in dual roles aimed at boasting (sic) tourism in Maryland. Walt Disney Imagineering, a Subsidiary of the Disney Co., is the lead design consultant in two new Baltimore Inner Harbor attractions, Port Discovery and the Hall of Exploration..."

Community Involvement Promotes Accessibility

In the new Port Discovery, The Children's Museum in Baltimore, the Museum mission is "Daring Kids to Dream" and the Accessibility Group Mission is

"To provide responses to Port Discovery questions and suggestions that will increase the viability of PD as a Universally Accessible museum to the greatest extent possible, particularly in reference to the building exhibits, programs, guest services and graphics."

Seven Guiding Principles of Universal Design

  1. Equitable Use (NOT separate but equal)
  2. Flexibility in Use
  3. Simple and Intuitive Operating Instructions
  4. Perceptible Information
  5. Tolerance of Error
  6. Low physical effort
  7. Size and space for approach, reach, comfort

It's just a computer "in pants"!

Science Museum

A young woman sits in front of a kiosk with track ball and computer screen. At the Science Museum in Vancouver, B.C., keyboard access is very, very simple. But, is the screen accessible?

Kiosk Design can be accessible.

In the U.S. and abroad, in airports and museums, kiosks must be designed to be reachable, audible and to provide alternate ways of accessing them, if the objective is to reach the whole audience.

information kiosk

A dark-haired smiling man, casually dressed, poses in his wheelchair next to an information kiosk. The kiosk, green in color, is pyramidal, bearing the Gaelic legend: "Failte" and Information Ireland Touchscreen. A video monitor and keypad is positioned above him; the keypad is embedded in the kiosk, seemingly out of his reach from the chair.

Elements of Accessible Kiosk Design

Kiosks are used in many "Real Life" applications:

Goals of Universal Design in the 21st Century Museum:

For more information contact Integral Design
The Philadelphia Building
1315 Walnut Street
Suite 320
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Phone: (410) 925-8302
E-mail: mbrady@idimpact.com