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Accessible PracticesBest PracticesLive and Recorded Media
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To communicate ideas about science, your museum probably uses videos, planetarium shows, films, lectures, interactive exhibition elements, live performances, live and recorded exhibition tours, meetings, and/or computer interactives. Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires you to ensure that these programs and services, along with your facilities and goods, are accessible to people with disabilities.

By using assistive listening systems, audio description, and captioning for live and recorded media in your exhibitions, programs, and events, you allow people with disabilities to participate more fully at your institution. As a result, people with disabilities who traditionally have not had equal opportunities will benefit from the informal learning experiences that you have to offer.

Assistive listening systems, audio description, and captioning are referred to collectively as auxiliary aids and services. We recommend that you strive to include auxiliary aids and services in plans for future exhibitions, programs, and events, while discerning ways to provide effective communication in existing ones. Consult with individuals with various disabilities to determine their preferences and what will work best for your institution.

Whichever auxiliary aids and services are provided to visitors, be sure to advertise their availability in brochures and on your web pages. Also, be sure to use appropriate signage and symbols in the museum to alert potential users to where they can request auxiliary aids. Museums cannot charge visitors for use of auxiliary aids and services. If options are available, staff should always ask visitors which device or service they need or prefer. Also, staff who dispense auxiliary aids need to be trained in their use and maintenance. Maintenance may include routine equipment checks and recharging batteries.

The following pages describe in detail some of the auxiliary aids and services that can be used to enhance audiovisual elements in exhibitions, programs, and events.

Assistive listening systems.

Assistive Listening Systems
Amplified sounds are transmitted via hearing aids or headsets.
Used in lectures, meetings, planetariums, films, live performances, exhibition tours.

Audio description.

Audio Description
Visual components of scenes are described during pauses in the narration, dialog, or music.
Used in videos, films, meetings, exhibition elements, planetariums, live performances, exhibition tours.


Dialog and sound effects are transcribed so that visitors can read them.
Used in videos, live performances, planetariums, lectures, films, exhibition elements.


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.

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