Accessibility and Inclusiveness Approaches for Museums to Grow more Generous and Empathic

Accessibility and Inclusiveness Approaches for Museums to Grow more Generous and Empathic

Defining “accessibility” and “inclusiveness”

These keywords gained popularity in the last decade — inside and outside of the museum world — and are usually used side by side as they don’t encompass the same scopes. According to the AAM ‘Facing Change’ manifesto (2017), ‘Accessibility’ is giving equitable access to everyone along the continuum of human ability and experience’. It’s about physical, intellectual, cultural and social issues at the same time. But to go beyond compliance, it needs to be associated with ‘Inclusiveness’ (or social inclusion) that refers to accessibility including the representation of impaired or underserved population in our societies. It ensures that ‘diverse individuals are valued as respected members and fully participate in all aspect of a community’.

©Thatdeafguy: https://limpingchicken.com/2012/04/11/that-deaf-guy/
©Thatdeafguy: https://limpingchicken.com/2012/04/11/that-deaf-guy/

Some inclusive initiatives pursuing a strategy of social change in museums

Starting around the 2015’s, a diverse range of inclusive initiatives happened in museums around the world, largely supported by manifestos such as ‘Museum Change Lives’ from the UK Museum Association in 2016 or ‘Facing Change’ from the DEAI (Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, Inclusion) group of the Alliance of American Museums in 2017.

Screen Shoots from the video dedicated to the SFMOMA touch-wall experience
Screen Shoots from the video dedicated to the SFMOMA touch-wall experience
‘L’Art et La matière’ exhibition at the Musée des Beaux-Arts of Lyon, France
‘L’Art et La matière’ exhibition at the Musée des Beaux-Arts of Lyon, France
Screenshot from the Video of van Abbe Museum (left) — CMN Villa Kérylos robot in action (right)
Screenshot from the Video of van Abbe Museum (left) — CMN Villa Kérylos robot in action (right)

More efforts remaining to implement accessible and inclusive process

The previous examples, initiated five years ago but still in action in 2019, could tend to prove that universal inclusive experiences are now the norm in museums. A recent scandal involving the Tate Modern with Ciara O’Connor, a visitor in wheelchair, about a non-accessible installation by Olafur Eliasson, proves it is not, even in large institutions. The Tate was not sued for its lack of inclusivity, but it was not the case of numerous galleries in New-York earlier this year, accused of allegedly violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because their websites are not accessible to visually impaired people.

Tate Modern apologies inside the exhibition-Sept.209- Your Spiral View © 2002 O. Eliasson
Tate Modern apologies inside the exhibition-Sept.209- Your Spiral View © 2002 O. Eliasson
Infographics © Invaluable
Infographics © Invaluable

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Livdeo

Livdeo

@Livdeo provides inclusive solutions for Museums and Cultural Institutions to create digital layers without constraints for visitors. @geedinfo @deealog