Basic Exhibit Accessibility
Exhibits provide the means for presenting and protecting the object on display and communicating information about it. No specific accessibility standards are available for exhibits. The AAM manual, 'Everyone's Welcome,' has provided guidance on how to enhance exhibit access using Universal Design and adapting ADAAG standards.
The Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University defines Universal Design as the 'design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.' For exhibits and their components, it would mean designing them to be accessible to people with a wide range of abilities and disabilities. This design standard can be useful for children, people with disabilities, the elderly, and non-disabled.
An example is mounting interactive exhibits. The mounting of controls between 36 and 48 inches is easier to use by anyone, standing or seated, adult or child.
The interior exhibits and area around them have some issues that need to be considered. The pathway for getting through these areas has been discussed.
Lighting is an important issue for people, especially those with low vision. A light level of at least 10 foot-candles or about 100 lux is recommended. The light levels enhance all aspects of the exhibit, from seeing the pathway to reading the signage to viewing the animals or objects on display.
|A signboard with multi-colored background that's hard to read.|
|A sign at a museum that is not at readable distance.|
|Exhibits that can be touched, smelt or heard.|
Many new exhibits are using a multi-sensory approach to increase the effectiveness of communication and education. Examples include the use of animal musk smells, miniature copies of an object for people to touch and see up close, two-dimensional cutouts, different sounds, descriptive tours and audio recordings.
|Uneven floor could lead to tripping.|
Another issue is the creation of a protruding hazard to the public. This man-made tree was designed leaning over the pathway. Unfortunately, a person with a visual impairment, using a cane along the path edge for guidance, could walk right into the tree and receive a serious head injury.