I believe it is the combination of physical accommodation and mutual respect that is the important factor in making musuems accessible.
Dianne Pilgrim, Director of Cooper-Hewitt Museum,
The Accessible Museum, 1992.
Teaming up with people with personal and
professional experience with disabilities facilitates the
process of making your science center or museum more accessible. It
is important that you work with professionals familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act
(ADA) and people with various disabilities. Each of these groups of
people has unique contributions that will prove essential as you
work to open your science center or museum to a wider audience.
ADA professionals help to sort out museums'
obligations to the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of
1973. They are familiar with doing access surveys and can answer
your legal questions. Persons with disabilities help to connect the
ADA guidelines to human factors by sharing their experiences and
demonstrating their preferences. Additionally, they may assist you
in educating staff, volunteers, and board members about access
issues. The connections you make will help to
effectively market your science center and its programs to groups
and individuals in the disability community. ADA professionals may
or may not have a disability, and the people with disabilities may
or may not be ADA professionals.
A goal is to create an atmosphere where
everyone feels that he or she has something to contribute and
something to learn. A measure of success can be the extent to
which people with disabilities talk openly and matter-of-factly,
both about what works for them and what doesn't, and the extent to
which museum professionals feel free to voice their concerns as
well as their passions. You will need to establish with your
advisors how their feedback will be incorporated into the museum's
operations. Some museums prefer to call individual advisors on an
informal basis while others prefer an advisory group that meets
regularly on a variety of projects. The pages below go into more
detail about working with advisors who are ADA professionals or
people with disabilities. These pages provide information on
where to look for access advisors as well as descriptions of
working relationships with them.
People with Disabilities
This web site is not intended to offer legal, architectural, engineering, or similar professional advice. Refer specific questions to an attorney or an ADA authority.