Building off of an earlier blog post about museum accessibility resources, we wanted to highlight another group of relevant publications and websites. The resources below are useful for anyone creating or evaluating inclusive museum experiences. Some come from non-profits and organizations devoted to accessibility while others come from associations related to the broader world of museums and science centers. You can learn more by checking out the growing list of articles on both the CMME and Open Exhibits sites.
General guidelines to know:
The Center for Universal Design “is a national information, technical assistance, and research center that evaluates, develops, and promotes accessible and universal design in housing, commercial and public facilities, outdoor environments, and products.” In particular, one of the invaluable resources that they have created is a downloadable poster that explains and illustrates the Principles of Universal Design.
CAST, “a nonprofit research and development organization that works to expand learning opportunities for all individuals through Universal Design for Learning,” has also created indispensable go-to materials for thinking about museum accessibility. Among the host of resources devoted to Universal Design for Learning, CAST has created guidelines, videos, and presentations. All of them can be found here.
The DO-IT Center “promotes the success of individuals with disabilities in postsecondary education and careers, using technology as an empowering tool,” and their website features numerous resources. Some are specifically geared to students with disabilities while others are for educators and employers. One of our favorite videos produced by DO-IT features how to make websites accessible.
A project called Universal Design Education involving The Center for Universal Design, IDEA Center in the School of Architecture and Planning, and the Global Universal Design Educator’s Network has created a unique website dedicated to “support[ing] educators and students in their teaching and study of universal design.” Be sure to check out the extensive links and bibliographies and join one of the conversations on the Discussion Forums.
Museum specific resources to explore:
Through the Office for Accessibility, the National Endowment for the Arts highlights its work to “make the arts accessible for people with disabilities, older adults, veterans, and people living in institutions.” One of the publications showcased on the website is the Design for Accessibility: A Cultural Administrator’s Handbook. This resource, which suggests practical steps you can take to make your organization more inclusive, has an online companion that is available here.
The Association of Science-Technology Centers devotes part of its website to information for museum professionals about Accessible Practices. This site is a collection of key resources including legal guidelines, background information about the Disability Rights Movement, checklists and advice on how to choose access advisors.
The American Alliance of Museums has also published references for the museum field on how to make institutions more accessible to all. One particularly significant publication, Everyone’s Welcome, helps professionals become familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and learn ways to incorporate recommendations into their work. You can purchase this book directly from their site.
And finally, The British Museum’s website provides an example of how museums can make their online collections more accessible by including both British Sign Language videos and audio descriptions of objects in their collection. Discover these objects and more here.
The Open Exhibits Collection Viewer now has the ability to pull from collection data in CollectiveAccess collection management software. Catalog objects and metadata in CollectiveAccess are queried and pulled into the Collection Viewer interface for interactive browsing of museum or archival collections.
CollectiveAccess is web-based software for managing museum and archival collections. It is the first collection management system used with the Collection Viewer as proof of concept for making interactive multitouch exhibits with existing datasets. Open Exhibits created an artificial collection of objects within CollectiveAccess using images from the Encyclopedia of Life Images Group on Flickr and descriptive text from various web sources. The Collection Viewer mapped to the 'Organism Type', 'Organism Subtype', and 'Organism Location' fields in the object records to create a primary browsing category and two narrower sub-categories. The 'Physical Description' field was used to populate the image description.
The Collection Viewer interface features two browsing docks where visitors can select categories and sub-categories for image browsing. Based on pre-mapped category terms, relevant images will appear in the dock and are available to be dragged into the main viewing area. Once in the viewing space, images can be enlarged, rotated, and shared. Description information for each image is viewable by tapping on the information icon on the bottom left corner of each image.
This version of the Collection Viewer will be released in the upcoming weeks. Open Exhibits will be demonstrating the Collection Viewer this week Museums and the Web on Ideum's prototype of the Platform 46 3M multitouch table.
The Collection Viewer for use with Flickr photo sets is available for download. For more information and to download, see this Downloads page.
We're pleased to announce a major release for the Open Exhibits SDK - version 2.6. This release is packed with new components, features, and bug fixes. We've made it possible to connect the gesture analysis engine to just about any device. As proof we've integrated the Leap Motion Controller and provided support for the Starling Framework. Now you can use any input configuration. For example you can configure the Leap Motion Controller to rotate a 3D model and configure the touch screen to select menu options.
- 2D Leap integration
- Starling support
- TweenMax integration
- Database-driven rendering
- New and improved CML expression attributes, selectors, and template renderers
- Open GML binding infrastructure allows use of any framework or input type
- New and improved UI elements and components including: Accordion, Model3D, Drawer, Dock, FlickrQuery, Hotspot, ProgressBar, SlideshowViewer, ScrollPane, and ScrollBar.
Open Exhibits software comes with over 50 UI elements and other librariesthat can be used to construct multitouch and motion tracking applications and exhibits. Recently, we've begun redesigning many of the UI elements for a release later this summer. Below are a couple of examples of design direction we are going in.
Notice the light and dark version of these UI elements. We are trying to make this set of UI elements as universally adaptable as possible. Our UI elements can all be re-skinned, but having a more attractive starting point (these will be our "default" components) would be a step forward. Along with improved visual design, we've been reworking some of the functionality of these elements to make them more user friendly--there is still a bit of work remaining. You can see more of these designs on the Open Exhibits Flickr site. Let us know what you think.
Have you heard of the DUO?
The DUO is the world’s first and only DIY 3D sensing solution. The DUO comes in many forms: with open hardware plans, molded cases, kits and fully assembled devices. All paired with an open source Driver, SDK and examples. Resulting in a professional grade solution for 3D sensing using stereo vision. The best part is it’s extremely easy to use, just plug it in, download the software and you can start playing within minutes. If you can wave in the air you can use a DUO.
What could be as cool as a multitouch screen? Multitouch without a screen. As multitouch moves into the third dimension, so does Open Exhibits. Our team is working on developing a library of 3D motion gestures and adding support for 3D motion sensing and other new HCI technologies. Integrating the DUO is on the roadmap. The DUO provides a DIY solution that museum techs should be keeping an eye on.
Help the DUO become a reality with their Kickstarter campaign.