Making Exhibits Accessible

New Accessibility Feature Enhances Open Exhibits Experience
Video tour of enhanced Solar System Exhibit Enhanced Solar System Exhibit Ideum (the lead organization of Open Exhibits) has made significant progress in multitouch accessibility in the process of developing three prototypes for the Creating Museum Media for Everyone (CMME) National Science Foundation-funded project. The third prototype, a new version of our Open Exhibits Solar System Exhibit, incorporates improvements based on usability test results and suggestions from the Museum of Science Boston, National Center for ...
CMME Exhibit Resource Overview
We have finished posting about the Museum of Science's portion of the Creating Museum Media for Everyone (CMME) project. In case you missed any of the posts, you can find direct links to each of them below. Background: These posts include resources and thinking that jumpstarted our exhibit development process. CMME Workshop Part 1 CMME Workshop Part 2 Use of Workshops for Promoting Universal Design Museum Accessibility Resources Additional Museum Accessibility Resources 2012 Workshop Themes Applying Universal Design ...
CMME: Audio Toolkit
Audio is a major feature of the final exhibit for the Museum of Science’s portion of the Creating Museum Media for Everyone (CMME) project. The audio components help guide visitors through their interaction with the exhibit. We found that many of the audio components were important for almost all visitors, in addition to those who had low or no vision. Audio is also useful for visitors who are dyslexic and with other cognitive disabilities that affect the ability to read.
CMME: Graph Paths Not Taken
Written by Emily O’Hara and Stephanie Iacovelli For the Museum of Science’s portion of the Creating Museum Media for Everyone project, we wanted to create an accessible interactive that featured graphed data.  The final exhibit component contains five scatter plot graphs, each with a calculated trend line. In addition to the graph options available in the final exhibit, the development team wanted to find a way for visitors to compare the data between graphs. We explored layering the graphs and comparing data through the use of a bar graph.
CMME: Design Toolkit
Contributions from Malorie Landgreen, Emily O’Hara, Robert Rayle, Michael Horvath, and Beth Malandain This post includes the design specifications for the final exhibit we created as the Museum of Science’s portion of the Creating Museum Media for Everyone (CMME) project. In addition to the physical specifications you will read about below, we also wrote a blog post where you can download the source code for this computer-based interactive. The design toolkit for this exhibit includes: Annotated technical drawings of the as-built ...
CMME: Using Personas in Exhibit Development
Personas, or hypothetical archetypes of actual users, were created as part of the Creating Museum Media for Everyone (CMME) project. Each persona represents a potential visitor and their characteristics were developed using real user data. These personas were meant to help guide exhibit development teams to think about the exhibit experience for a wide range of users. You can read more about the development of the personas by clicking here. You can also view and download the most recent version of the personas by clicking here. For the final CMME exhibit at the Museum of Science, we used the personas to help define the potential visitor experiences and identify where gaps in each user’s potential experience may exist. This is a snapshot from the full persona goal planning document we developed. You can download the full version of our goal planning spreadsheet by clicking here. When planning to use the personas, we first defined the skills a visitor would be practicing and what they would understand from each of those interactions, within three learning levels.
CMME Workshop Discussion: Applying Universal Design to Museum Experiences
The Creating Museum Media for Everyone (CMME) workshop brought experts from many different fields together to consider how to create accessible digital interactives for museums. Much of the week-long CMME workshop was spent creating prototypes for digital interactives that focused on data manipulation. In addition, workshop participants had one discussion about other typical museum experiences that are facilitated through digital interactives and how they might be made more inclusive to all visitors.
CMME: Toolkit Source Code for Interactive
Written by Ben Jones This computer-based interactive is the result of our Creating Museum Media for Everyone (CMME) work at the Museum of Science. In this post, we are including the source code so that individuals or institutions can repurpose the code for their own projects. A full description of this exhibit can be found in the Final Exhibit Component blog post. In this interactive, we used a wind turbine dataset from our “Catching the Wind” exhibition.
CMME: Haptic Paths Not Taken
Post written by: Marta Beyer, Peter Moriarty, Emily O’Hara, Robert Rayle Going into the Creating Museum Media for Everyone (CMME) project, our team had several key criteria in mind when experimenting with the creation of a haptic exhibit: the exhibit needed to allow visitors to explore, interpret, and compare graphical data sets; the exhibit need to allow visitors to be able to identify trends within the data and to explore individual data points; and the exhibit needed to be durable and affordable.
CMME: Haptic Possibilities in Exhibits
Post written by: Marta Beyer, Peter Moriarty, Emily O’Hara, and Robert Rayle Through the Creating Museum Media for Everyone (CMME) grant, the Museum of Science and several other institutions set out to explore various possibilities for developing accessible digital museum interactives. One particular area CMME allowed us to explore was the potential of haptics technology within museum settings. Haptics, the ability to get information from touch, present a promising and unique way to convey information.
CMME: Tactile Paths not Taken
Written by Malorie Landgreen and Ben Jones  The Creating Museum Media for Everyone (CMME) team at the Museum of Science, Boston (MOS) explored many avenues to address our goal of making accessible digital interactive as useful as possible. While reading through this blog, you will see examples of the work our team developed while brainstorming this interactive component, and the reasons some of these attempts were not chosen for the final proof-of-concept component.
CMME Exhibit Component: Formative Evaluation Summary
Formative Evaluation Methods: A total of nine iterations of the Creating Museum Media for Everyone (CMME) exhibit prototype were tested throughout the formative evaluation phase, which occurred from April 2013 to March 2014. Overall, 134 visitors took part in testing the prototypes. This includes 15 recruited people with disabilities and 119 general Museum visitors (who were not asked whether they identified as having a disability). Because people with disabilities were the target audience for this project, they were recruited to come in and ...
CMME Final Exhibit Component
For the Creating Museum Media for Everyone (CMME) project, the team from the Museum of Science, Boston, aimed to develop a proof-of-concept exhibit component that used multisensory options to display data and whose components could be adapted into a basic toolkit for use by other museums. The development of this exhibit was kicked off with two back-to-back workshops featuring talks by experts in the field and working sessions to explore some possible directions for an accessible digital interactive.
Using Personas to Create Inclusive Digital Exhibit Interactives
The Creating Museum Media for Everyone (CMME) project created personas, or hypothetical archetypes of actual users, to guide the design process of the four prototypes produced during the CMME Workshop. The personas are not real people, but they do represent real people throughout the design process, and are based strictly on real user data. Personas are useful to design teams because they help ensure user-centered design by representing and communicating user needs to developers. Using real user data discourages potential personal bias on the team.
A Web for Everyone: Designing Accessible User Experiences
Check out UX Magazine's excerpt of Sarah Horton and Whitney Quesenbery’s book on accessibility, A Web for Everyone: Designing Accessible User Experiences. Through the use of case studies on individuals with different accessibility challenges, the authors present clear overviews of how they each use technology for work and leisure. The profiles address specific challenges with technology and outlines the adaptive technology they use daily. The insight into these user profiles will help user experience designers think more critically about ...
Open Exhibits & CMME: Accessibility in Interactive Exhibits
Open Exhibits takes another step towards accessibility in the latest release with the addition of the text-to-speech and speech-to-text capabilities. With the new Open Exhibits 3.0 release, there is an example project that contains an interface to the Microsoft Speech Application Programming Interface (SAPI). This technology allows you to create applications that are accessible to visually impaired users: Command your exhibit using voice commands by setting up a vocabulary of recognizable words and phrases.
Open Exhibits featured in Huffington Post Tech Blog
Open Exhibits was recently featured in a tech blog article in the online edition of the Huffington Post. The article, Open Source Collaboration in Museum Exhibit Design, describes Open Exhibits and another open source initiative, The Tech Open Source. Open Exhibits, now embarking on its third year, is committed to the museum open source initiative. In collaboration with GestureWorks, Open Exhibits has developed two open standard markup languages called Creative Markup Language (CML) and Gesture Markup Language (GML).
Additional Museum Accessibility Resources
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.
How critical are workshops in promoting universal design within a museum?
Last year, the Museum of Science in Boston held a week-long set of workshops as part of a project to demonstrate how digital interactive museum exhibit devices can be designed and developed for visitors who have a wide range of disabilities. This NSF-funded proof-of-concept is now in the phase of determining how to disseminate techniques for designing universally-designed multimedia, and we're reflecting on the necessary element to do so, including the workshops. You can find out more about the workshops here: /accessibility/cmme-workshop-part-2-developing-innovative-accessible-digital-interactives-2/7092/ and the formative report on the workshops is here: The CMME workshops were a designed to help give individuals and ISE institutions the tools to make concrete changes in museum multimedia design practices. To start institutions down the path of Universal Design, is a workshop like CMME (multi-institution, but hosted by one) the best route to go?
Museum Accessibility Resources
CMME is collecting existing resources on museum accessibility, as well as researching new tools and approaches. Here are some of our favorites: Cultural Access New England (CANE) was founded to advance access to cultural facilities in New England for people with disabilities of all types. CANE defines accessibility broadly, to include programmatic, architectural, physical, communication, attitudinal and other forms of access. CANE takes as a basic tenet that increasing accessibility for people with disabilities increases accessibility for everyone.
CMME Workshop Part 1: Envisioning the Future of Accessible Digital Interactives
To launch Creating Museum Media for Everyone (CMME), a NSF grant which Jim mentioned in an earlier post, the Museum of Science, Boston held two back-to-back workshops in May 2012. Both the Possibilities and Concept Development Workshop were designed to bring together a range of experts and to make strides in developing the next generation of universally designed computer-based museum exhibits. Below is a brief recap of the first workshop and the range of ideas we heard from our expert advisors.
CMME Workshop Part 2: Developing Innovative Accessible Digital Interactives
Building off of ideas from CMME's Possibilities Workshop, we moved into the second-half of the week and the Concept Development Workshop. This post describes what happened at this second, slightly smaller workshop and the innovative design approaches that participants created. The Concept Development Workshop featured 40 participants working on different design teams to develop possible approaches to a universally designed digital interactive. The teams worked on one of four specified approaches they had heard about earlier in the week: dynamic ...
Multitouch Table Exhibit with Audio Layer Prototype
As I mentioned in my previous post,  Open Exhibits Lead Developer, Charles Veasey and I attended a workshop at the Museum of Science in Boston this week that explored accessibility issues in computer-based exhibits.   In the next few weeks, we will share a number of findings from the workshop, which was held as part of the NSF-sponsored Creating Museum Media for Everyone (CMME) project. I want to start this process by sharing some of the findings from our breakout group, which over the course of a day-and-a-half, explored the challenges in ...
Creating Museum Media for Everyone
Next week, myself and Charles Veasey from the Open Exhibits project will be attending a week-long workshop focusing on accessibility issues in computer-based interactives held at the Museum of Science in Boston.  The project, Creating Museum Media for Everyone is a National Science Foundation (NSF) sponsored collaborative that involves the Museum of Science, WGBH's National Center of Accessible Media (NCAM), and Ideum (the lead organization in Open Exhibits).  Here's a short description of what the Creating Museum Media for Everyone is about...
Papers Section of the Open Exhibits Site Updated
The papers section of the Open Exhibits website has be reworked and expanded. There are dozens of research papers and articles focusing on natural user interface, accessibility, user experience, UI design, evaluation, multitouch techniques, and more.  We hope you find this evolving resource helpful. We will continue to add papers to the site and we encourage contributions from ...

The CMME website is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant #1114549. Please see disclaimer below.