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Access Smithsonian






In an attempt to integrate feedback from people with disabilities directly into the exhibit design process, Access Smithsonian and the Institute for Human Centered Design utilize User Expert interviews in the development of diverse museum projects.


 For this project, I assisted with conducting six User Expert interviews and reviewed 12 previous interviews. I gained valuable insight into the process of structuring the interview; which User Experts to include, quantity of Experts to involve, communication considerations, and information delivery methods. I also developed skills in applying contextual inquiry practices to uncover and examine underlying assumptions and meanings related to User Expert experiences.


Throughout the interviews I collected emerging data around inclusive design considerations and collated the data into a Findings Report. This proprietary document serves as a record of their learnings to inform future exhibit design.



Recognizing the need to develop new strategies for making artwork accessible, the Smithsonian Institution staff began a dialogue to ensure that both artworks and art experiences are accessible to all. 


As a preliminary step to inform the dialogue, I researched the museum field's current practices around accessibility and artwork to compile a document that pulls from existing guidelines, including;


  • AAM’s Everybody is Welcome

  • Smithsonian Guidelines for Accessible Exhibition Design

  • Design for Accessibility: A Cultural Administrators Handbook

  • Museum of Science Boston: Universal Design Plan

  • Art Beyond Sight 


Topics covered included audio description strategies and delivery methods, best practices for public programs, and focused considerations for time-based media, sculptures, and immersive experiences. 


This research on current practices will enable staff to easily identify the gaps in accessible artwork strategies as Smithsonian staff and their project partners  move forward towards greater inclusion in the arts.

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