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disabled and older people 






Model programs of accessibility for 
disabled and older people 


This book was produced with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts 
and the Institute of Museum Services, federal agencies. 

The Accessible Museum 
Model Programs of Accessibility for Disabled and Older People 

Copyright © 1992 The American Association of Museums. 1225 Eye St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20005. 
All rights reserved. This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part, in any form, except brief 
passages by reviewers, without written permission from the publisher. 

Printed in the United States of America 
54321 96 95 94 93 92 


The Accessible museum: model programs of accessibility 
for disabled and older people, 
p. cm. 
Includes bibliographical references and indexes. 
isbn 0-931201-16-0 
1. Museums — United States — Access for the physically handicapped. 2. Museums and the handi- 
capped — United States. I. American Association of Museums. 

AM160.A27 1992 
069'. i7'0973— DC20 92-29831 cip 

Compiling editor and interviewer: Marcia Sartwell. Coordinating editor: John Strand. Production 
editor: Amy Grissom. Associate coordinating editors: Donald Garfield, Susannah Cassedy. Bibliog- 
rapher: Marina L. Rota. Indexer: Alice Fins. Designers: Meadows and Wiser, Washington, D.C. The 
Bauer Bodoni body typeface is 12 pt. throughout to accommodate readers with visual impairment. 
Printed by Expert/Brown, Richmond, Va. 

PHOTO CREDITS: Cover: John Larson; p. 10: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; pp. 19, 20, 23 and 25: 
John Mueller; p. 26: Children s Museum (Photo by David Powell, Spectrum Photography); p. 29: Chil- 
dren's Museum (Photo by John Cooper); p. 31: Bruce E. Millen; pp. 35, 37 and 39: Oraein Catledge; 
p. 40: Milledgeville-Baldwin Allied Arts; pp. 43, 46: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County; 
pp. 48, 51: John Mueller; pp. 57-58: Aquarium of the Americas; p. 61: Donn Young; pp. 64, 66, 69 and 
70: John Larson; p. 73: National Trust for Historic Preservation; p. 75: Oraien Catledge; p. 79: Jim Buck 
Ross Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry/National Agricultural Aviation Museum; pp. 81-82: Donn 
Young; p. 84: Oakland Museum (Photo by Joe Samberg); p. 87: Theodore R.M. Smith; p. 88: Oakland 
Museum (Photo by Joe Samberg); p. 91: Lowell Handler; p. 93: Winterthur Museum; pp. 94, 97 and 
ioo: Lowell Handler; pp. 103-104: Kathleen MacQueen; p. 107: Lowell Handler; pp. 109, 112 and 115: 
Courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; p. 116: Jim Collins; p. 119: Robert S. Arnold; pp. 124, 127: 
Theodore R.M. Smith; pp. 128, 130: M.H. de Young Memorial Museum; p. 132 and back cover: Jim 
1 laisler: p. 135: Kimbell Art Museum (Photo by Michael Bodycomb); pp. 137-138: Jim Haisler; p. 140: 
Lawrence Hall of Science (Photo by Wallace Murray/Design Media); p. 146: Museum of Science, Boston; 
p. 153: Bruce Millen; pp. 154, 157: University Museum/Southern Illinois University. 

Cover: A visitor enjoys the beautiful Bloedel Reserve 
Front is: Guests chat on I lie deck ot the Visitors Center 


Foreword 6 

Preface 8 

Introduction n 

Unique Outreach Programs 

Brookfield Zoo, brookfield, Illinois 18 

The Children's Museum, boston, Massachusetts 27 

The John Marlor Arts Center / Allied Arts, milled geville, Georgia 34 

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, los angeles, California 42 

Spertus Museum of Judaica, Chicago, Illinois 49 

Aquarium of the Americas, new Orleans, Louisiana 56 

Innovative Solutions 

The Bloedel Reserve, bainbridge island, Washington 65 

Drayton Hall, Charleston, south Carolina 72 

Jim Buck Ross Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry / 

National Agricultural Aviation Museum, jackson, Mississippi 78 

The Oakland Museum, Oakland, California 85 

Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library, winterthur, Delaware 90 

Broad-Based Programs 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, new york, new york ioi 

Museum of Fine Arts, boston, Massachusetts 108 

Old Sturb ridge Village, sturb ridge, Massachusetts 117 

Training Programs 

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, san francisco, California 125 

Kimbell Art Museum, fort worth, texas 133 

Lawrence Hall of Science, Berkeley, California 140 

Museum of Science, boston, Massachusetts 147 

University Museum / Southern Illinois University, carbondale, Illinois 152 

Bibliography 158 
Index 177 


Museums across the country are working to make their collections more available to 
older adults and people who have various kinds of disabilities. Federal and state laws, 
including Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act and the 1990 Americans with 
Disabilities Act, have accelerated the timetable for the transition in national attitudes 
and actions. The focus is inclusion: to open up existing programs and services and to 
reach out to underserved communities in ways that promote human dignity. 

Museum professionals are now realizing that fully accessible facilities and exhi- 
bitions are making museums safer, more comfortable, and more meaningful for 
everyone. Ramps and elevators reduce accidents, accommodate baby carriages and 
carts, and are preferred by many who do not have disabilities. Large-print labeling 
with good contrast is meant to accommodate everyone. Captioned film and video 
heighten reading skills for children and foreign visitors; and exhibits presented at a 
height accessible to those who use wheelchairs are appreciated by adults of short 
stature and children as well. 

This publication is designed to encourage and assist you in making your facili- 
ties and programs available to older Americans and individuals with disabilities 
whether they be staff, volunteers, creators, or audiences. The diverse museums 
profiled in this book are opening doors in ways that promote independence and dig- 
nity, and develop new and larger audiences. Each program confirms how close com- 
munication with disabled and older constituents increases accessibility in the most 
economical, efficient, and expedient manner. The selected bibliography provides re- 
sources to assist this process. Most important, this book demonstrates full inclusion 
of older adults and individuals with disabilities, not only in the featured profiles, but 
in the production of the book as panelists, writers, and photographers. 

The creation of this unique book grew out of an agreement between the Institute 
of Museum Services (IMS) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). In Sep- 
tember 1986, the agencies agreed to work together "to advance the Federal agencies' 
common goal — to encourage and assists museums in making their collections and 
activities available to disabled people as mandated by Federal law." 

Initially, the Endowment's Special Constituencies Office worked with the Smith- 
sonian's National Museum of American Art (NMAA) to organize a nine-member ad- 
visory committee, composed of consumers with disabilities, accessibility experts, and 
staff to assist the NMAA in composing its National Survey of Accessibility in Muse- 
ums that was funded by the Smithsonian Institution. This detailed survey was sent 
to 2,000 museums throughout the country, and 40 percent responded. This research, 
which was published in May 1989, uncovered a broad spectrum of exciting projects 


and resources. It not only provided the initial research for this book, but reinforced 
the need for such a publication. Subsequently, the Arts Endowment developed co- 
operative agreements with NMAA to compose the selected bibliography and the 
American Association of Museums to produce The Accessible Museum^ which were 
jointly funded by NEA and IMS. AAM worked with the two agencies to convene a 
nine-member panel on November 29, 1990, which recommended the models docu- 
mented in this publication out of a pool of 61 museums. 

I hope The Accessible Museum will motivate readers to look more carefully at 
how they meet the needs of their older and disabled staff, volunteers, and visitors; 
to seek their advice in discovering where gaps exist; and to make any needed im- 
provements so that every American may have the opportunity to experience this na- 
tion's cultural richness. 

— Daphne Wood Murray, Deputy Chairman for Public Partnership, NEA 

The American Association of Museums acknowledges with gratitude the following 
individuals who have contributed to the publication of The Accessible Museum: For 
the National Endowment for the Arts, Acting Chairman Anne-Imelda Radice and 
her predecessors John Frohnmayer and Frank Hodsoll, Kate L. Moore, and project 
director Paula Terry. For the Institute of Museum Services, Director Susannah 
Simpson Kent, former Director Lois Burke Shepard, and Rebecca Danvers; and for 
bibliographical research, Margaret Cogswell, and Mary Gregg Misch. 

We extend our appreciation to the members of the Advisory Committee for the 
National Survey of Accessibility in Museums in the United States, conducted by the 
National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution: Judith O'Sullivan, 
Margaret Cogswell, National Museum of American Art; Jan Majewski, Smithsonian 
Institution; Priscilla McCutcheon, Boulder, Colo.; Mary Ellen Munley, George Wash- 
ington University; Mary Jane Owen, Disability Focus, Inc.; Margaret E. Porter, U.S. 
Dept. of Health and Human Services; Deborah M. Sonnenstrahl, Gallaudet Univer- 
sity; Paula Terry, NEA; and Gail Weigl, Corcoran School of Art. For serving as chair 
of the selection panel, we thank Charles K. Steiner, Art Museum, Princeton Univer- 
sity, and panelists Kathy Ball, Lafayette Natural History Museum and Planetarium; 
Ray Bloomer, Sagamore Hill National Historic Site; Karen Dummer, Children's Mu- 
seum, St. Paul, Minn.; Lana Grant, Sac and Fox Library; Janet Kamien, Field Mu- 
seum of Natural History; Dianne Pilgrim, Cooper-Hewitt, National Museum of De- 
sign; Beth Rudolph, Very Special Arts, New Mexico; and Deborah Sonnenstrahl. 

At AAM we acknowledge the work of Kathy Dwyer Southern and Bill Anderson, 
and the research efforts of Nancy Hayward. 





publication of The Accessible Museum is 
an important achievement for the National Endowment for the Arts, the Institute 
of Museum Services, and the American Association of Museums. By directly ad- 
dressing the specific issues of accessibility for museum audiences, the nea and aam 
endorse what we know to be at the core of all museums: they are for everyone. This 
simple declaration, an element of every public museum's mission, is one that is 
all too often overlooked. Barriers of all kinds — intellectual, social, cultural, and 
physical — prevent museums from fulfilling their potential as educational and cul- 
tural centers. 

As a museum director with a physical disability, I observe these barriers and their 
impact from a unique perspective. I am concerned both with making the content and 
presentation of museum exhibitions accessible to the widest possible audience and 
ensuring physical access to the museum facility for each visitor. From the vantage 
point of my profession, my concern is that both of these issues be successfully ad- 
dressed. But as I enter my own place of work in a wheelchair, via the back door, never 
having been able to mount the stairs leading to the museum's front door, I have a 
special interest in accessibility, particularly as it relates to the museum environment. 
This concern is not just about physical access, but it is about creating exhibitions 
and educational programs that are inclusive for people with visual and hearing im- 
pairments as well as learning disabilities. 

I believe it is the combination of physical accommodation and mutual respect 
that is the important factor in making museums accessible. It is not enough to ad- 
here to codes and requirements of door widths or tt (Telephone Texts for hearing 
impaired people). These architectural changes and improvements plus adaptive 
devices facilitate movement in a building and make the programs accessible to a 
wide audience, but more than, the physical site must be changed. Our attitudes 


must be changed so that accommodation does not come only to equal inconve- 
nience. Just because there's a ramp to the door, or a grab bar in the lavatory doesn't 
mean that the problems of accessibility have been solved. From museum guards 
to tour guides, curators to administrators, all of the public must be treated with 
dignity, courtesy, and human understanding. Our attitude must change to view the 
public as just that: a group of diverse people with various needs, concerns, abili- 
ties, and limitations. 

My career in museums developed in a traditional manner — a love for the sub- 
ject and eventually a desire to help chart the direction of an institution dedicated 
to design. I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1978 and have used a wheel- 
chair for the past six years. During this time the word "accessibility ' has taken on 
new meaning. It is not good enough for something to be just beautiful, it must 
function well also. Good design is about creative problem solving. We all need to 
be better designers when it comes to organizing museum exhibitions and educa- 
tional programs. 

This is a critical message. Our museums of art, design, science, and history should 
be accessible to everyone. The truth is that what is being done in the name of ac- 
cessibility for persons with disabilities will make everyone's daily life easier. As our 
population ages, we will all come to appreciate the changes that the Americans with 
Disabilities Act requires. 

Some of the most impressive programs in this book are the ones that are inclu- 
sive. Rather than devising projects for people with special needs (i.e. older people, 
visually impaired individuals, etc.), educational programs should speak to multiple 
voices, concerns, needs, and interests. 

As we begin to see advocacy result in physical changes at our local supermarket, 
on the sidewalks, and in museums, we must also work to broach the other side of 
the question. We must make our attitude one of acceptance and respect. It is only 
with alteration and attitude that accessibility can be truly successful. 

Dianne Pilgrim is director of Cooper-Hewitt Museum, 
The Smithsonian Institution 's National Museum of Design, New York. 






he Accessible Museum profiles nineteen Amer- 
ican museums with relative availability to disabled people. It is intended to encour- 
age museums to devise similarly creative ways to make their collections meaningful 
to a constituency that has not heretofore had the opportunity to take advantage of 
cultural offerings, especially those of museums. The goal of this particular essay is 
to lead the reader to approach the issues surrounding accessibility for disabled peo- 
ple in museums as a discipline or field of study, rather than as a prescribed and lim- 
ited set of precepts required by law. 

As a premise, the notion of accessibility for disabled people is still considered by 
some to be a radical idea: one can cite various news items on the alteration of mass 
transit (e.g., kneeling buses, elevators in subways) to substantiate the view that ac- 
cessibility for disabled people is perceived as extreme or fanatic. This "radical idea" 
was legislated into federal law by the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and its 
principles broadened and further articulated by the Americans with Disabilities Act 
of 1990. The often cited and critical portion of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 
1973 says: "No otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the United States . . . 
shall, solely by reason of his handicap, be excluded from the participation in, be de- 
nied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activ- 
ity receiving federal financial assistance." 

There are approximately 43 million disabled persons in the United States; it is 
estimated that one in five Americans have one or more impairments. The Arts En- 
dowment's 504 Regulations define disabled persons as "any person who has a phys- 
ical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more life activities, has a 
record of such impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment." In addi- 

Access to collections for disabled visitors fulfills the museum 's democratic mandate. 


tion to widely introducing the concept of equal rights (including equal opportunity 
in employment) for disabled people, 504 's other precepts include encouraging con- 
sultation with disabled persons (i.e., the consumers) in developing viable solutions 
to accessibility problems, and requiring institutions receiving federal support to pre- 
pare both a self-evaluation and a transition plan summarizing their current level of 
accessibility, and plans for improvement. While the legislation was not altogether 
successful, it did influence many museums, including those featured in this book, to 
consider disabled people as a viable potential audience and to explore various ac- 
commodations to make the constituency more comfortable in a museum setting. The 
Americans with Disabilities Act broadens the federal antidiscrimination mandate to 
all public services including public transportation, all public accommodations, in- 
cluding museums, and telecommunications. No longer may a museum opt to forego 
federal funding to avoid the steps or costs associated with making itself accessible to 
people with various disabilities. 

The use of the term "disabled," while convenient as an abbreviation, is mislead- 
ing because it implies a homogeneous subgroup of humanity. Everyone's disability is 
different and accessibility solutions that work for one person may not work for an- 
other. Further, there is sometimes an alienation between groups of disabled people 
such that a consensus on anything is impossible. The overlap between the population 
labeled as disabled and those labeled as senior citizens has always been sensitive; 
many older adults do not wish to identify themselves as disabled. Thus, there is fre- 
quently a schism between those over and those under 65 in self-perception; older 
adults who deny their physical limitations and the young who have, as the female lead 
in the Broadway hit Children of a Lesser God., a pride in their identity as "disabled." 

Even within disability groups, there is frequently so much division that those who 
wish to deliver services to disabled individuals, like museums, have a very unclear 
focus. Among people who are deaf, there are those who communicate by sign lan- 
guage and those who won't; among blind people, there are those who support shel- 
tered workshops and those who don't. There is a very great disassociation between 
disabled people who do and do not have neurological impairments, especially men- 
tal retardation. So frequently have the minds of people with physical limitations 
(blind, deaf, mobility impaired) been questioned, that they go to extraordinary 
lengths to disassociate themselves from people with mental disabilities. The British 
Broadcasting Company radio used to air a radio program called "Does He Take 
Sugar?" The title memorialized the waiter who asks a blind person's sighted escort 
how the blind person would like his tea, rather than the blind consumer himself. 

Museum services for disabled people are not new, nor dependent on law. The Met- 
ropolitan Museum of Art, for example, has been serving such groups since 1913, when 


Robert W. de Forest, Secretary of the Metropolitan Museum, offered two lectures on 
American sculpture and musical instruments, complete with touchable objects and 
braille. There are also records of the museum's "story hour for physically handi- 
capped children" in 1924-25, and "lip reading lectures" in 1926. In the context of 
these Metropolitan Museum programs, what is really so new about the concept of 
museum accessibility for disabled people, and why has it taken all of us, disabled 
consumers and museum staff alike, so long to establish what has been popularly re- 
ferred to as "cultural access"? 

One answer is that the word "access" or "accessibility" has been overused and 
its meaning has become ambiguous in general usage. The term is also so closely as- 
sociated with the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that its underlying goal of in- 
tegration has been lost by many. In turn, the need to comply with the law has some- 
times eclipsed the philosophical and educational foundation for mixing disabled 
people into our society, including museums. (If asked to justify a particular program 
or architectural renovation, many museum professionals will answer "legal require- 
ments" or "the law," without really knowing which law or any other legal speci- 
fications.) The mythic absoluteness associated with 504, which in fact proved to be 
so absolute that it required an additional piece of federal legislation — the ada — pre- 
cluded development of cultural access for disabled people as a discipline. Whereas 
art historians study the history of art or natural history curators study biology or 
botany and continue to do so throughout their careers in museums, few administra- 
tors expediting cultural access for disabled people in museums have reviewed any- 
thing but the most cursory surveys of solutions by other institutions. They may not 
have time to take the additional responsibility of 504 or ada compliance, and, once 
more, they may not be particularly interested in the problem. Thus, the fiction of a 
prescribed solution is attractive. It also explains why, over the years, museums keep 
repeating the same mistakes and why the field of museum accessibility, or whatever 
we wish to call it, has moved forward ever so slowly — too slowly given the number 
of disabled people in the United States. 

It is time to inject the field with new vocabulary, to evaluate methodology, to re- 
examine goals. Such a review should begin as it would in any other field, with a sur- 
vey of the literature. Over the years, there have been influential books published by 
American and foreign museums or museum-related service organizations, authored 
by seminal figures in our discipline. To ensure improvement on past programs and 
progress in accessibility, these and other published volumes must be reviewed before 

One particularly important book is The Principle of Normalization in Human 
Services (1972) by Wolf Wolfensberger because it provides theoretical guidance in in- 



tegrating disabled people into society from the point of view of institutions, mostly 
residential, that care for human beings. Instead of concentrating on aesthetic "con- 
cessions" that must be made to make services available to disabled people (e.g., low- 
ering pedestals, enlarging typeface, etc.), the book concentrates on overall strategies 
for moving particular individuals from cloistered to less protective environments and 
lifestyles. In this author's view, it is unfortunate that so much of the literature aimed 
at accessibility in museums has stressed concessions, what museum staff often per- 
ceive as aesthetically negative changes. While the justification "everyone benefits" is 
always included in these rationalizations, the argument has not been convincing. 
Wolfensberger argues for integrating disabled people into society, but from a very 
different point of view, and in so doing, is of great help to those of us trying to de- 
vise strategies for incorporating disabled people into the museum-going public. So 
frequently, museums install a ramp or special program, but lack consistent overall 
accessibility to the museum. 

Wolfensberger defines normalization as the "utilization of means which are as 
culturally normative as possible, in order to establish and/or maintain personal be- 
haviors and characteristics which are as culturally normative as possible." He goes 
on to add: 

"The normalization principle as stated is deceptively simple. Many individuals 
will agree to it whole-heartedly, while lacking awareness of even the most immedi- 
ate and major corollaries and implications. Indeed, many human managers endorse 
the principle readily while engaging in practices quite opposed to it — without being 
aware of this discordance until the implications are spelled out. Then a manager may 
find himself in a very painful dilemma, endorsing simultaneously a principle, as well 
as practices opposed to it." 

A prime example, in some museums, of the conflict between principle and prac- 
tice is the appointment of a disabled person to teach other disabled individuals rather 
than nondisabled visitors in the public galleries. The principle of normalization 
would encourage the integration of disabled museum employees in jobs other than 
those which have exclusive contact with disabled visitors. Similarly, how would the 
normalization principle apply to special touch exhibitions of art in museums which 
do not normally allow touching? This is not to say that museums shouldn't hire dis- 
abled teachers or organize touch exhibitions; Wolfensberger emphasizes the impor- 
tance of criteria and values in the decision to "normalize." The goals surrounding 
accessibility need to be clarified and museums must recognize their own biases as a 
profession in influencing the course of the discipline. 

Is the issue before us accessibility, integration, and equality in a legal and a the- 
oretical sense, or is it quality programming and contact with museum collections? A 


conflict arises here between these concepts from the museum's point of view. Most of 
us are concerned with bringing museum collections and disabled people closer to- 
gether. At the same time, it is a fact that our museums have grown to become more 
than collections -centered institutions. Many museums have gift shops, parking lots, 
rest rooms, and restaurants, as well as sponsor parties and receptions. Many mu- 
seum visitors, both able-bodied and disabled, come to museums expressly to take 
advantage of these services rather than to view the collections. Indeed, there is a fun- 
damentally false assumption being made as a premise for many programs that are 
accessible to disabled people: that disabled people necessarily want to have contact 
with museum collections. As museum professionals, we only assume this premise be- 
cause it is in the self-interest of museum professionals to do so; we do not allow dis- 
abled citizens the same rights of disinterest that we allow other visitors. Therefore, 
our discipline of accessibility has two subfields of study: facilitating integration in 
compliance with legislation (e.g., making buildings architecturally accessible and 
providing comparable services in an accessible location) and encouraging disabled 
people to use, enjoy, and learn from museum collections. 

These, however, can be mutually exclusive ideas. To date, many museums have 
been using a museum program, often one museum program, such as a touch exhi- 
bition or the installation of a ramp, as a standard bearer or substitute solution to 
504/ADA compliance. This has presented the government and the consumer with a 
quandary: on the one hand, it is heartening to see museums finally make a sub- 
stantive gesture toward disabled audiences. But by condoning or complimenting the 
effort, are the consumer and government sanctioning the postponement of a neces- 
sary, broader, museum action toward accessibility? A corollary to this quandary is 
from the perspective of the museum professional. Suppose a curator believes the 
primary business of museums is collections-oriented and that the first aim of ac- 
cessibility should be facilitating contact with the collections to the point of exclud- 
ing the architectural alteration of gift shops or museum restaurants. Accessibility 
cannot be approached selectively but must parallel the functions, however diverse, 
of the museum. 

This book, then, is a departure point, not an end in and of itself. The museum 
community should use it to further develop the field of disabled visitor services by 
understanding the need to become familiar with similar work being carried out by 
other museums, by treating the issues involved as they would other disciplines, and 
by exploring new solutions, while recognizing that the solutions established to date 
are imperfect, which is not to say not very good — but imperfect. 

Charles K. Steiner is associate director of the Art Museum, Princeton University 


J 5 


unlau& Outreach 

Brookfield Zoo 

Brookfield, Illinois 

hen ten-year-old Mark entered the After- 
School Program at the Children's Zoo (a part of the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago), his 
therapist expected him to go on temper tantrums with kicking, screaming, and hit- 
ting, just as he had done in the past. Mark's behavior in the six-week program sur- 
prised everyone. He participated willingly in learning about and working with ani- 
mals. Along with seven other children who had behavior disorders or learning 
disabilities, he milked goats, groomed horses, and held bottles of milk for young an- 
imals. And, he gave the staff no trouble. 

Mark is just one of many individuals to benefit from the programs available for 
special populations at the Chicago Zoological Park, usually known as Brookfield Zoo. 

In the early 1970s the Brookfield Zoo, like many institutions, became more aware 
of the needs of disabled persons, and it undertook the removal of barriers to these 
populations. During that decade it built ramps and inclines to provide access to 
buildings. It put up clear, easy-to-read signs, made paths level and wide enough for 
wheelchairs, and reserved parking areas for disabled visitors. For the benefit of vi- 
sually impaired visitors, it issued large-print and Braille versions of some handouts 
and put Braille labels on many exhibits. 

In the 1980s the zoo made rest rooms, telephones, drinking fountains, and restau- 
rants accessible. It created a special-visitors brochure offering information on tours, 
wheelchair accessibility, handicapped parking, and other matters of interest to dis- 
abled zoo-goers. And it created the office of special populations coordinator and hired 
Mark Trieglaff, a former zoo-keeper who holds a degree in outdoor and therapeutic 
recreation, to fill it. 

When Trieglaff took over the office in 1982, "special populations" meant persons 

Visitors board a trolley at the Brookfield Zoo. 




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who were visually impaired, hearing-impaired, physically disabled, mentally re- 
tarded, and learning or behaviorally disordered. Now the audience has expanded to 
include the most severely disabled of those groups, plus individuals with autism, drug 
and alcohol abuse, and a variety of age-related disorders. 

Trieglaff puts his goal in simple terms: "The whole intention," he says, "is to 
make the person's visit more enjoyable, a little easier, and to help them take advan- 
tage of opportunities at the zoo." 

Many of the opportunities are closely tied with the Children's Zoo, which initi- 
ates most of the programs for special populations. With its collection of familiar do- 
mestic and native Midwestern animals, its hands-on approach, and its high keeper- 
to- visitor ratio, it is usually the first stop for visitors with special needs. 

The staff assists visitors in approaching and touching most of the animals. "You 
can get a lot of hands-on contact with different animals, from the domestic ones like 
goats, horses, and chickens that you would find in a farm environment, to native an- 
imals like the armadillo," says Trieglaff. The armadillo is particularly popular be- 
cause of its many different textures, such as its leathery outer covering, soft under - 

The zoo offers shuttle service for visitors. 



belly, and long, slender tongue, with which it sometimes licks the visitors' hands. 

With such interaction, safety becomes a concern, but Trieglaff points out that 
zoo-keepers and volunteers instruct children and other visitors in the proper way to 
touch the animals, closely supervise all contact, and make sure the animals are never 
over-stressed. In addition, most of the animals have been raised by humans and are 
accustomed to being handled. 

The Children's Zoo has also developed a number of sensory exhibits, used in con- 
junction with the tours, which special populations, as well as the rest of the public, 
enjoy. Taxidermied animals such as beavers, woodchucks, and opossums give visu- 
ally impaired visitors a sense of animal shapes and textures. "Touch boxes" further 
heighten tactile awareness. Here visitors reach into covered boxes and run their hands 
across such items as a reindeer antler, cowhide, coral, starfish, coconut, or pine cone, 
then lift the lid to find out if they have identified the objects correctly. For visually 
impaired visitors, the answers are provided in Braille. 

One section of ""Sensory Corner" is devoted to the sense of sight. One display 
shows camouflaged animals; another shows the view of the world through a fish's 
eye and a bee's eye. In another section "smell boxes" challenge the visitor to iden- 
tify odors ranging from pine to opossum to skunk. 

The After-School Program is one of the Children's Zoo's most innovative and 
most successful initiatives. The program selects small groups of eight-to-twelve year 
olds, in cooperation with the West Suburban Special Recreation Association. Once a 
week the group learns about horses, dogs, and dairy animals, as well as the duties 
and responsibilities of those who care for animals. The children participate in such 
activities as trimming a dog's nails, cleaning a goat's stall, and brushing a dog's teeth. 

The program culminates with each child presenting four different animals to the 
public in the Pet-and-Learn Circle. As part of their presentation, the children must 
answer questions the audience may ask about the animals. The aim of this exercise, 
and the program as a whole, is not only to educate the students, but to help them 
improve their social and listening skills and to boost their self-confidence, a com- 
modity often in low supply. 

"We've had a number of kids in the program who have had some serious behav- 
ioral problems and very low self-esteem," says Trieglaff. But after they work through 
the six-week course, he adds, "some of the kids start to look like professionals out 
there. They feel like, 'Hey, I know this information, and here's somebody who 

The close contact with animals helps students in a number of ways. Trieglaff re- 
ports that even children with severe behavioral problems in the classroom alter their 
behavior in the zoo program, probably as a result of heightened self-esteem. Follow - 


up evaluations show that this changed behavior often lasts beyond the conclusion of 
the program. Many participants who had not previously shown any interest in social 
or group activities have gone on to volunteer for the therapeutic riding classes or 
other animal programs, and some have even expressed an interest in working with 
animals in part-time jobs or as a career. Others have gotten pets. 

While the program is designed to be primarily educational and recreational, its 
therapeutic benefits are undeniable. "That's not the intention of the program," says 
Trieglaff, "but it's an offshoot. It's definitely there." He finds support for his belief 
in recent research that documents how much disabled persons may benefit emo- 
tionally when they have animals around that they can observe and touch. 

The philosophy behind animal-based therapy is that interaction with animals, 
particularly tactile interaction, can break through psychological barriers. The effects 
of a disability are rarely confined to one segment of a person's life. Hidden impair- 
ments, such as emotional or psychological disturbances, may stem from the reactions 
of others to the disability, thus creating barriers around the disabled individual. 

According to the Brookfield Zoo's evaluation of its special-education programs, 
there are several reasons why contact between humans and animals can succeed in 
breaking through these barriers. First, the sensory experience, such as rubbing the 
rough trunk of an elephant, not only allows disabled people to reach beyond their 
everyday routine, but it also enhances their world by introducing them to powerful 
new sensations, a special benefit to those who may lack one or more senses. More 
important, for many disabled persons animals provide a complete acceptance and a 
disregard for their impairments. 

Trieglaff tries to instill this sense of acceptance into zoo workers as well. He pro- 
vides training to both full-time and seasonal employees, as well as to volunteers and 
docents who assist with tours and other programs for disabled visitors. 

The training emphasizes empathy and knowledge. To help develop increased un- 
derstanding for the challenges special populations face during their visits, workers 
and volunteers are sometimes blindfolded and taken on a tour or are left to navigate 
their way through the classroom in a wheelchair. 

To heighten their knowledge of disabilities, they are given an in-house manual 
that includes guidelines for making presentations to different types of disabled 
groups. They learn, for example: "Blind is not deaf, so you need not shout. Also, 
blind is not dumb, so if you have a question for a blind person, ask him and not his 
companion." The manual also classifies and defines the major disabilities, provides 
general information about each, and discusses many misconceptions. 

In the section on mental retardation, for example, staffers learn that of the eight 
million citizens of the United States that are considered mentally retarded, eighty- 


Ramps and inclines provide access to zoo buildings. 

nine percent are of high enough intelligence to function independently in society, and 
that one of the most effective ways to teach groups of retarded persons is to have 
them repeat information. 

"Really, it's just a lot of common sense," says Trieglaff, "and getting the staff and 
volunteers to think in a common sense way about disabilities helps quite a bit in 
working with the groups." 

Groups of disabled persons who wish to visit the zoo can call ahead and have a 
tour adapted to their particular needs. These tours focus on the Children's Zoo, with 
its many tactile exhibits, but may move on to the zoo's other facilities. They include 
Indian Lake, a man-made environment; the Seven Seas Panorama, highlighted by a 
wheelchair accessible area with a clear view of the dolphin show; and the Pachyderm 
House, where visitors get a close-up view of an elephant going through her exercises. 
This experience may be especially exciting to visually impaired persons, who from a 
distance might see only a grey blur but from a few feet away can see the elephant 
quite clearly and, with special arrangements with the zoo-keeper, may touch her. 

The zoo makes these adapted tours available to a variety of disabled groups, but 
it has an ongoing relationship with a number of institutions serving special popula- 
tions in the Chicago area. For example, the zoo provides a mobility-training prac- 
tice ground for the Central Blind Rehabilitation Center at Hines Veteran Hospital. 
Groups of visually impaired veterans take tactile tours several times a year, and they 
are granted free admission to the zoo so they can practice moving independently in 
preparation for their release from the rehabilitation program. 


2 3 

In addition, Riveredge Hospital, the largest private psychiatric hospital in Illi- 
nois, provides patients from the alcohol and drug-abuse center to work at the zoo 
the second and fourth Friday of each month. While there, they receive information 
on the zoo's volunteer programs, and many continue to work as volunteers after they 
leave the hospital. 

Other programs at Brookfield Zoo include vocational training and work-study 
opportunities for disabled individuals and "Senior Safari Tours" for older visitors. 
These tours are available to groups of twenty or more, and the nominal fee for this 
program includes general admission to the zoo, a dolphin show, and a reserved seat 
aboard a wheelchair-accessible tram. 

For persons who cannot get to the zoo, the zoo has a program that it takes on the 
road. As part of its outreach program, the zoo staff visits such institutions as nurs- 
ing homes and children's hospitals with an entourage of ferrets, armadillos, and 
skunks, as well as more common small animals such as dogs, cats, and rabbits. The 
presentations also include a sampling of tactile exhibits and handouts, usually in 
large print, which are left behind for the institution's library. 

In a single year more than 6,000 persons with disabilities have been involved in 
programs at the zoo or have been visited as part of the outreach presentations. In 
addition, many other disabled persons have gone through the zoo on their own or 
with companions. 

All programs for special populations at the zoo are followed up with evaluations 
from leaders of various groups, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. 
A recent survey found that 100 percent of the group leaders said they would recom- 
mend the Brookfield Zoo to other special-population groups. Despite this high level 
of satisfaction, the staff is putting together an advisory group of agencies in the 
Chicago area to work on ways to improve the zoo for disabled persons. One of the 
aims of this panel will be to work together on securing grants and private funds to 
ensure the continued success of Brookfield's special-populations programming well 
into the future. 

A wheelchair accessible area offers a view of the dolphin show. 


2 5 

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The Children's Museum 

Boston, Massachusetts 

hat If You Couldn't? — one of the most pop- 
ular and enduring exhibits in The Children's Museum in Boston — helps youngsters 
understand what it is like to live with a disability by giving them a chance to expe- 
rience it. In one part of the exhibit children are encouraged to climb into a wheel- 
chair and try maneuvering it or pulling it up an incline. 

In another exhibit the children may try to use a prosthetic arm which has been 
adapted to public use, or they may attempt to walk with the aid of metal crutches. 
Further on is a maze where blindfolded children learn firsthand about the frustra- 
tions of blindness as they feel their way along a multitextured wall. The experience 
of being "disabled" is nonthreatening and very brief, but the children gain some 
awareness of what life is like for persons who face these obstacles every day. 

"What If You Couldn't?" was developed in 1979. "It was a landmark exhibit," 
says Nona Silver, special needs program coordinator. "It was clearly ahead of its 
time." A traveling version of the exhibit has appeared in a score of other museums 
and community centers throughout the United States and is still in use. An expanded 
version, which adds a videotape of fairy tales told in sign language, opened at the 
museum in January 1990. 

Another exhibit that expands the visitor's understanding of disabilities is "My 
Mommy Drives a Wheelchair," the story, in black and white photographs, of Rosemary 
Larkin, who is quadriplegic. It begins with her decision to have a child and shows her 
raising her little girl Lorelei. "My guess is it reaches a lot of people," says Silver. 

When it comes to reaching a large number of people and making them more sen- 
sitive to the needs of disabled persons, The Children's Museum does it as well as any- 
body and has been doing it longer than most. 

The Children 's Museum occupies an 1888 waterfront warehouse. 


Founded in 1913 by the Science Teachers' Bureau, the museum was first installed 
in a city-owned building in Pine Bank, Jamaica Plain, a southwest Boston neigh- 
borhood. It is the second oldest such institution in the United States. With collections 
in natural history, the museum offered exhibits, lectures, loan kits, lantern slide pre- 
sentations, and started a library. 

By 1916 it was offering classes for children who were blind or deaf. 

After outgrowing its second home in Jamaica Plains, in 1975 it joined with the Mu- 
seum of Transportation to buy an abandoned warehouse on Bostons waterfront. Ren- 
ovating the 1888 building, designing proper storage for the museum's 50,000-item 
collection (30,000 cultural artifacts and 20,000 natural history specimens), and build- 
ing new exhibits took four years. During this period of design and reconstruction, says 
Silver, "accessibility for the disabled was uppermost in mind. For example, the ex- 
hibit Victorian House would not normally have a doorway a person in a wheelchair 
could get through, but when they built it, they made sure that it would work." 

The museum does, in fact, have the type of easy accessibility that comes when it 
is built in, rather than added on later. Circulation routes through the museum have 
no curbs, steps, or protruding objects. Wheelchairs move easily through doorways. 
Elevators to the different levels are available, and call buttons can be reached from 
a wheelchair and read in Braille. Water fountains and telephones are accessible to 
those in wheelchairs, as are rest rooms (which have music from different cultures 
piped in). The old tt (Telephone-Text device for hearing-impaired persons) is be- 
ing replaced by a new one that will operate twenty-four hours a day and will carry 
messages of upcoming events, so that a hearing-impaired caller will receive basically 
the same information that a hearing caller does. 

Many museums, though, have similar features. What sets The Children's Mu- 
seum apart is a truly welcoming quality that may have more to do with its philoso- 
phy than with its architecture. 

The moment visitors enter, they sense they are welcome. 

In most museums signs warn visitors not to touch. In The Children's Museum 
children are invited not just to touch, but to push, pull, operate, climb, explore, and 
experiment. Except for the Hall of Toys, where glass encases a collection of dolls, 
dollhouses, and toy soldiers, everything is u hands-on." Children clamor over the Gi- 
ant's Desktop with its telephone the size of a rowboat, stilt-like pencils, and toddler- 
high paper clips. Children can pretend to be shopkeepers in a Latino market. They 
can examine the bones of various animals; climb on a two-story suspended sculp- 
ture; and make ocean-like waves and watch them break. They may be learning about 

Children learn about geometric shapes and cohesion at "'Science Playground. " 


2 9 

health, architecture, and science, but first of all they are having fun, and the decibel 
level in the museum proves it. 

Something of the museum's philosophy is evident also in the number of exhibits 
on different cultures. Of these the most remarkable may be the Kyono machiya^ the 
150-year-old home of a Japanese silk merchant. It was dismantled in Kyoto, Japan 
and reassembled in the museum by Kyoto craftsmen. With its adjoining street and 
garden, it offers a rare opportunity to learn about Japanese life and architecture and 
to compare modern lifestyles with traditional ones. 

The exhibition on American Indians helps children look past the stereotype of 
Indians in feathers and war paint. On one side of the room is a wigwam large enough 
to hold eight to ten children; on the other side is a small contemporary clapboard 
home with life-size paintings of Indians wearing jeans and T-shirts. While seeing how 
Indians live in today's world, children also learn something of their traditional val- 
ues — respect for the earth and for all living creatures. 

The Victorian house, which used to be called "Grandparents' House," is now 
called "The Gutermans' House". The furnishings, food, and knickknacks show 
how a Jewish family might have lived in the pre-World War II era. Children can 
explore through the house that stretches from the museum's second to the fourth 
floor. The house has a cellar, a living room, and an attic full of treasures from an- 
other era. 

"Kids' Bridge," a new exhibit, provides a powerful experience about prejudice, 
racism, and culture. The bridge, a forty-six inch span, leads visitors into a dramatic 
environment suggesting greater Boston. With two screens and a computerized track- 
ing ball, visitors take part in a "treasure hunt" through five ethnic neighborhoods 
with children from those neighborhoods as guides. Whether searching in Revere for 
Cambodian food or in Roxbury for an African medallion or playing cross-cultural 
games, they gain a new understanding of different cultural ways. 

"For children who will be adults in the twenty-first century, learning to see them- 
selves and others as part of a culturally and racially diverse society may be as impor- 
tant as learning to read," says Kenneth Brecher, director of The Children's Museum. 

"We have always tried to reach a broad audience," says Nona Silver, "and reach- 
ing people who are disabled is just part of that process." 

Wednesday mornings during the school year are reserved for visits from groups 
with special needs. One group is scheduled at 9:30 and another at 10:45. To make sure 
that the children receive the maximum benefit from their visit, the groups are kept 
small — no more than thirty — and several museum interpreters accompany them. 

The museum interpreters, who are key to the success of the Wednesday morning 
program, receive intensive training in special needs issues ranging from interacting 


with hearing-impaired children to understanding dyslexia. The interpreters are 
salaried employees. Many have previous experience in helping disabled persons. 
Some know sign language. All interpreters participate in regular weekly training ses- 
sions. These include guidance about specific areas of special needs as well as group 
discussions. Here interpreters may discuss their feelings and work on different ways 
to handle problems that have arisen. 

Interpreters adapt the tour according to their assessment of what will be most 
enjoyable and beneficial to the children in their charge. Interpreters need to be able 
to make this judgment within a few minutes after the children arrive. 

Disabled children can participate in many ways in the museum. A visually im- 
paired child, for example, might enjoy exploring the Giant's Desktop, discovering 
the big buttons on the big telephone. From there, she could go to the "Bones" ex- 
hibit, where she could handle bones from different animals. At the Raceways Ex- 
hibit, which is about motion and momentum, golf balls move at different speeds on 
various types of tracks, such as a spiral and a roller coaster. The visually impaired 
youngster can feel both the ball and the tracks and can hear where the ball is from 

A young visitor tries out a touch screen. 

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start to finish. And for both hearing and hearing-impaired children, there is an area 
for watching videotapes of fairy tales told in sign language. 

Sometimes children who are not expected to get much out of their experience sur- 
prise everyone. "I was talking to a teacher near the 'Bones' exhibit," says Nona Sil- 
ver. '"There's a light table, and we put x-rays up. One of the boys in her class began 
naming the bones, and it became clear that he had learned every bone in the body. 
The teacher was stunned. T can hardly believe this,' she said. 'This boy is all over 
the classroom. He never sits down.' 

"We get a lot of the kids who are behavior problems in the classroom, and it's not 
evident here. They get caught up in the exhibits. I've heard the teachers say, 'You're 
going to have to keep your eye on him every minute,' and then nothing happens." 

In addition to the exhibits, the museum holds Friday night musicals or storytelling 
performances by guest artists. "Magic: Possible Impossibilities," with Erik Wikstrom; 
"Meet the Composer," with David Polansky; and "Magical Melodies with Puppets," 
with Wendy Frank are typical offerings. At least one performance each month is 
signed for the benefit of hearing-impaired children. The museum also sponsors the 
Boston engagement of the Big Apple Circus, which offers several signed performances. 

Working with the Very Special Arts (vsa) organization, the museum hosts a one-day 
children's festival in the arts. About twenty local artists are stationed in the exhibition 
areas of the museum. More than 600 children from special education and regular class- 
rooms, go to four different sessions — face-painting, puppet-making, clay, and per- 
forming arts — where they create their own art under the supervision of these artists. 

In one year the museum's Wednesday morning program serves about 2,000 chil- 
dren and adults. Other disabled persons go through the museum with their families 
or as part of summer camp programs. The influence of the museum's program, how- 
ever, extends far beyond the number of children who are directly served by it. 

It is not possible to separate out all the costs of the special services and programs 
from the $5.9 million budget of The Children's Museum. The costs of an exhibit on 
disability awareness, for example, are calculated with the other exhibits. Staff costs 
for the program, however, appear modest, particularly for so influential a program. 
Forty percent of Coordinator Nona Silver's time is devoted to accessible program- 
ming, plus the Wednesday mornings of ten to fifteen interpreters. 

The museum is a valuable resource to the community, especially its schools, and 
to other museums. Since 1964 it has made its materials available, for a modest rental 
fee, in the form of kits, which Silver describes as "miniprograms that extend their 
visits into the classroom." Kits include lesson plans, activities, objects, artifacts, mod- 
els, and audio-visual materials. Educators may choose from ninety topics. Six of 
these are concerned with disability awareness. The kits are rented through the Re- 

3 2 

source Center, which also has an extensive collection of books, periodicals, and au- 
dio-visual materials available to the public. 

The museum holds workshops and seminars for teachers on topics in science, 
culture, and child development. Seminars on disability awareness are frequently of- 
fered. In the spring of 1990 one seminar focused on issues that arise as mainstream- 
ing of children with special needs continues in the public schools. Earlier, with a 
three-year grant from the Foundation for Children with Learning Disabilities, the 
museum instituted a training program for public school teachers to increase their 
skills and level of comfort when working with children with learning disabilities. 

With Old Sturbridge Village (see separate chapter on this site) The Children's 
Museum co-founded the Access Network for Museums. This is a national network 
of museum professionals who meet periodically to discuss physical, programmatic, 
and attitudinal barriers to accessibility within museums. 

About 500,000 visitors come to the museum each year, and another 250,000 
teachers, community workers, parents, and children in communities throughout New 
England are reached by its outreach services. 

To Nona Silver, however, the impact of The Children's Museum is best summa- 
rized in the story of the Latino boy whose class was visiting "The Clubhouse," an 
exhibition area for children ages nine to fifteen. He was on the dance floor of "Rec- 
ollections," an exhibit where music is piped in and a laser beam throws colored im- 
ages of a person's movement on a reflective screen. Suddenly, inspired by the music, 
the movement, and the images, he began talking to his classmates. His teacher 
stopped her own conversation in mid-sentence. "Wait, wait, wait ..." she said, "I 
never heard that child speak before." 

"For this boy, it was a real breakthrough," says Silver. "It's times like that that 
fill you with awe." 



The John Marlor Arts Center/ Allied Arts 


f there were such a thing as a spirit of ac- 
cessibility, it would undoubtedly reside in Milledgeville, Georgia, population 
13,500. Milledgeville, the former capital of Georgia, is a town with a proud past. 
In its Historic District the visitor can see the former State Capitol, which served 
as the seat of government from 1803 to 1868, the Old Governor's Mansion, and 
scores of antebellum structures with their trellised balconies, colossal porticos, 
Doric columns, and ancient cedar trees. Milledgeville even gave its name to a 
unique architectural genre — Milledgeville Federal, a blend of late Georgian, Fed- 
eral, and early Greek Revival styles. 

Today Milledgeville is the setting for lively and diverse programming in the arts — 
programming that not only reaches the entire community but is free of charge about 
ninety percent of the time. 

The organization that makes all this happen is called Milledgeville-Baldwin 
County Allied Arts, a nonprofit agency charged with the dual purposes of making 
a variety of experiences in the arts available to local citizens as well as managing 
the John Marlor Arts Center properties, a cluster of historic buildings that date from 
the years 1810-1830. Allied Arts' commitment to accessibility is not only very direct 
and no-nonsense; there is something personal and small-town homey about it as 
well. No government organization has been breathing down the back of Allied Arts 
about accessibility. The agency seems to have made things accessible because that's 
the way they want it, and they want it that way because they know some nice folks 
who happen to be disabled whom they do not want to inconvenience or leave out 
of anything. 

Allied Arts acquired these buildings in the late 1970s through matching grants 

Making the historic John Marlor House accessible proved challenging. 



■ • •:- 


secured from the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Housing 
and Urban Development for the development of threatened historic properties. A 
fourth historic building was given to the arts program by private citizens, Mr. and 
Mrs. Floyd Griffin. Deeds for all four properties were signed over to the City of 
Milledgeville for the use of the arts agency. 

The most significant of these properties is the John Marlor House at 201 North 
Wayne Street, home of the English master builder John Marlor and a fine example 
of Milledgeville Federal. Since 1979 it has housed the Allied Arts offices and the Eliz- 
abeth Marlor Bethune Art Gallery. 

Returning this building to its original form and making it accessible were among 
Allied Arts' first priorities. "When we first got this property, there were all kind of 
apartments tacked up on the shed roof and over the breezeway," says Betty Snyder, 
director of Allied Arts. 

Among the changes carried out to make the building accessible were the alter- 
ation of the front steps from five to six in order to make the rise safer and more 
comfortable; dismantling the breezeway connecting the main house with the 
kitchen section, then lifting the old kitchen eight and one-half inches onto new 
piers and re-attaching it with a new breezeway to the original 1830 section; in- 
stalling two accessible bathrooms; adding a ramp and bannister rail; and adding 
a concrete walkway to make direct connections from the house to the new acces- 
sible parking area. 

Asked if this meant that wheelchair users had to enter through the back door, 
Betty Snyder replied, "Yes, that's right, but all our friends come in the back door. 
That's where the off-street parking is; nobody comes in the front door except people 
who don't know us very well." 

Working with Special Audiences, Inc., Allied Arts next did a photographic sur- 
vey to determine the accessibility of all the places in town where it might wish to 
sponsor performances, exhibits, classes, or workshops. Some of them were not ac- 
cessible. Allied Arts has a very simple, effective policy about this. "They are now," 
says Snyder. "Otherwise, we don't use them." 

Take the accessible restrooms in the John Marlor Arts Center, for example. It 
was important to get them in quickly because David Sampson, a visual artist, was 
opening an exhibit there. "David is in a wheelchair," says Snyder, "and he has 
trouble moving his arms, so he works slowly. Once he gave a demonstration of how 
he works, and it goes almost at a snail's pace. Then when you look at his finished 
works and realize what he turns out — it made a tremendous impression on us. So, 
of course, when he did an exhibit here, we wanted to have a restroom that a wheel- 
chair could turn around in." 


Then there was the ramp. "We didn't know it was slick under certain conditions 
until we had a person in a wheelchair use it and it was slippery for her. So now every 
one of those boards has this little grit strip you put across it. Experience has made 
us more aware of some of these things." 

There was also the lady who was deaf and visually impaired. "So we thought, 
'How can we help her be more self-sufficient when she comes in? ,,, says Snyder. 
"We wanted her to know her way around without someone always staying with 
her; you know, that bothers a person, like at a store when someone follows you 
around. We had a drawing from the architect showing the layout of the gallery 
spaces in the main building. We put it in one of those plastic frames, and then took 
a glue gun and drew the lines on it so that you can feel the raised lines showing 

Visitors entering the John Marlor House. 



the layout. We did it for that one person, but now we have it for anybody else." 

For all this, though, the second floor of the John Marlor Arts Center is not ac- 
cessible to wheelchairs because the circular stairway is too steep for a ramp, and 
putting in an elevator would mar the historic integrity of the structure. The second 
floor, however, is used primarily for offices. 

Considering the size of the community, the arts programming in the 
Milledgeville-Baldwin County area is surprising not only for its diversity but for the 
fact that it touches virtually every part of the community. There is a certain amount 
of standard programming: Each season features about ten performances of such 
groups as the Southern Ballet Theatre and The Gregg Smith Singers in the "Town 
and Gown" concert series. The "gown" part is the coed Georgia College. About 
twenty-five art exhibitions are held either in the Marlor Arts Center or in satellite 
sites (usually the Mary Vinson Memorial Library) or on tour. One of the exhibits, 
"Black Women: Achievements Against the Odds," was co-sponsored by the mu- 
seum, Archives of Georgia Education, and the Smithsonian Anacostia Neighbor- 
hood Museum. 

The extent of the outreach into the schools is noteworthy. In the 1989-1990 sea- 
son, for example, Allied Arts presented sixteen in-school performances, including 
the Pandean Players, Poetry Alive! and Tell Tale Theatre. In addition, eight artists 
served residences in the schools and community for periods ranging from one to six 
weeks. These artists included pottery artist George Lea, theater artist John 
Schmedes, photographer Larry Erb, sculptor Gregor Turk, and visual artist Tom 

School-age children are also reached through at least four different summer camp 
programs. Each program lasts five days, and at least four are offered during the sum- 
mer. A typical offering is the Science and Writing Camp, in which field biologist and 
author Jack Nisbet helps children explore the nature of the region and then guides 
them in writing about what they have seen. 

Since artists in residence teach classes in the community as well as in the schools, 
Milledgeville adults always have a broad selection of interesting offerings from which 
to choose. In the 1989-1990 season classes or workshops were offered in watercolor 
painting, choral singing, basket making, tap dancing, portrait painting, crafts, bird 
carving, and writing. 

A number of older adults take part in these classes; for those who cannot come 
to the center, outreach classes are given at the Senior Citizens Center or at the re- 
tirement home. Classes are also given at Unity Place, a sheltered living environment 
for disabled and/or disadvantaged persons. 

Allied Arts is also one of the sponsors of the Very Special Arts Festival, where 


The tombstone of master builder John Marlor. 

artists help children with physical or mental disabilities get involved in arts and 
crafts. At a recent festival, Allied Arts hired Rusty Redfern of Atlanta to give a 
demonstration of drawing. Since Rusty, who has no arms, draws with his feet, the 
demonstration was enlightening for the children. 

Allied Arts takes pride in its ability to come up with new ideas. Three recent pro- 
grams illustrate novel ways to use arts programming to benefit special groups — in 
these cases, teachers, inmates, and latch-key kids. 

Teachers would seem to need no special help to enjoy the arts, but the premise 
of the artist-teacher training program is valid. Since there will never be enough 



The John Marlor House. 

artists-in-residence to reach all children, the idea is to teach teachers how to in- 
tegrate the arts into their classrooms. Starting in 1990, some of the artists in res- 
idence teach summer classes for teachers on such topics as how to use video, 
drama in the classroom, Southern literature, and reading and writing for teach- 
ers. The classes run for seven intense days. Even though the classes provide no 
teacher credit, the number of teachers taking the courses doubled in 1991. 

In 1989 Allied Arts sent artist in residence John Schmedes to teach a class in the- 
atrical improvisation at Rivers Correctional Institute. These classes went so well that 
the corrections recreation services contracted with Allied Arts for Schmedes to create 
a pilot program in theatrical techniques. The workshops, held twice weekly for six 
weeks, included fifteen inmates. According to Bill Hinton, assistant director of recre- 
ation services, the prisoners' ''communication skills and self-confidence improved with 
every session." He added, "We also saw a gradual movement away from 'criminal sce- 
narios in their improvisations." Both Allied Arts and Corrections plan to continue co- 
sponsoring the program while also expanding into other arts disciplines. 


At the women's prison, creative writing took hold, thanks to workshops from 
poet Al Masterick (editor of the journal Swamproot) and novelist Judith Ortiz Cofer 
(The Line of the Sun). So much of the work that the women in prison created was 
good that Allied Arts considered putting out a book of prison writings but scrapped 
that idea in favor of a better plan. "We have a writers' group in town working with 
these different writers as they come through," explains Snyder. "So what we are go- 
ing to do is put out a book of regional writing by people in Baldwin County, and 
we're not going to say which writers are in prison or which ones are in town. We'll 
use names but no addresses. It doesn't matter where the writers are — only that they 
write well.'' 

The Art after School program, launched in September 1991 with African dancer 
and storyteller Deborah Ferguson, also uses artists-in-residence in an innovative way. 
As the title implies, the art classes will take place after school, and the program is 
intended to benefit latch-key kids who often have no place to go then. 

The liveliness of the arts in Milledgeville is due not just to Allied Arts, but also 
to the many groups that co-sponsor events. These groups include the City of 
Milledgeville, the Baldwin County School System, the Georgia Council for the Arts, 
the Artists-in-Education Program, the Mary Vinson Memorial Library, the Georgia 
Humanities Council, the Southern Arts Federation, and Georgia College. The orga- 
nization also has an active group of volunteers, Friends of Allied Arts, and a strong 
base of support from the City of Milledgeville, which contributes forty-seven percent 
of its approximately $200,000 budget. To Allied Arts, however, goes credit for using 
its resources to produce arts programming that touches every level of life in the 
Milledgeville-Baldwin County area. 



Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County 

Los Angeles, California 

hen the half dozen docents pack up their 
storyboards, videos, and museum artifacts and pile back into the Natural History 
Museum's van, they always leave behind a group of people who are more interested, 
more animated, and more outgoing than they were before. And this is true whether 
the docents are returning from a special education classroom for disabled children or 
a nursing home for older people. 

"The teachers tell us that after the presentation the children talk more with each 
other," says Jennifer Bevington, who coordinated the outreach programs for disabled 
children and seniors for three years. "That's something that happens also with the 
Senior Outreach Program. Many times people in these facilities do not have family 
to visit, and they feel very alone, forgetting that one resource is the person sitting 
next to them. One of the things we've seen over and over is that after our presenta- 
tion people begin talking with each other." 

The two groups have something else in common. No members of either group are 
ever likely to come to the museum on their own. The children have physical, men- 
tal, emotional, or developmental disabilities; the older people often have medical 
problems and difficulty in traveling. If these groups are to have any experience of a 
museum, the museum must go to them. 

And the museum does provide outreach with programs that are so appealing 
it is easy to see why the participants respond. For disabled children, there are 
three presentations: Dinosaurs, Life in the Ocean, and North American Mammals. 
Working with a group of about nine children, docents first capture their atten- 
tion by using brightly colored illustrations on a large velcro storyboard to pre- 
sent the basic concepts. Then, the children get to touch — as well as smell, han- 

Dinosaur presentations are available for disabled children. 



die, and play with — the artifacts and specimens from the museum's collection. 

In the dinosaur presentation, for example, the children handle a full-scale model 
of an allosaurus skull with three-inch teeth, real dinosaur bones, and a huge sea tur- 
tle shell, which they sometimes put on their backs as they walk around while they 
pretend to be turtles. 

The objects are both valuable and breakable, but the museum intentionally takes 
the risk, so important is the children's involvement. "From time-to-time some of 
these bones have to be replaced," says Bevington, "because they get a lot of loving." 

"Life in the Ocean" is a "sensory experience," says Bevington, one that opens up 
new worlds for some of the children. "Everything smells like the sea. We've got a 
bottle of krill, and it fascinates the kids to learn that the largest mammal on earth 
eats one of the smallest ones. We've got vertebrates and invertebrates, and things 
like shark skins and shark egg cases. 

"Often docents who live by the beach will get some kelp that's fresh and has the 
ocean smell. Or, they will bring sand — it's amazing the number of kids who live in 
Los Angeles who have never been to the ocean. And there are different fish models, 
anemones and sea shells. We also talk about things that live near the ocean — the sea 
birds, the marine mammals, and the life in the tide pools. It's a cut through the 

Three times each month a group of four to six docents presents these programs 
at different schools in the county that include children with various disabilities. The 
presentation lasts about one hour, so the docents may reach several classrooms in 
one morning's work. They work together in the classroom because the classes need 
a high ratio of adults to students, and, as Bevington puts it, "it takes a lot of hands 
to do the program." 

Afterwards, the docents usually go out for coffee to talk about any difficult prob- 
lems or any child in need of special attention. "They need to debrief," says Beving- 
ton. "There is a real camaraderie among the people who do the program. Not every- 
body can do it. It's tough to walk into the classrooms and see these kids." 

An unusual aspect of the program is that it was developed by volunteers, work- 
ing with museum staff. "The program was modeled after one at The Carnegie in 
Pittsburgh," says Bevington. "One of our docents was from The Carnegie, and she 
wanted to duplicate it at Los Angeles, although it has been adapted to the different 
circumstances. There is a core group of about fifty docents who are very involved 
and very committed to it." 

Equally unusual is the way the docents are trained for the outreach programs. 
They must first go through the full year of training required of all docents. Then, 
they generally guide tours for a year. After that, they are encouraged to do the out- 



reach programs. If they choose to do so, they are trained by the more experienced 
docents. "They learn through observation and spending time with the older docents 
in the classroom," say Bevington. "It's one of the most successful things we have 
done. It's really effective if you are taught by someone who's good." 

The funding came in part from National Medical Enterprises, which gave the 
museum a grant of $22,000 in 1985 to start the program and keep it running for three 
years. The money paid for the van ($14,000), the artwork and display boards 
($4,500), printing brochures ($2,000), and some "touchable'' items. A similar grant 
in 1990 underwrote part of the salary of the outreach coordinator and paid for some 
of the program's expenses. The rest of the program's $15,000 annual operating bud- 
get comes from museum funds. 

The program for seniors is even more of a bargain. Most of the start-up costs were 
donated — the van was a gift from Beverly Enterprises, and individuals supplied 
many of the artifacts. The museum paid $3,000 for the background sets and cos- 
tumes and picks up the $10,000 annual operating costs. 

For all their similarities, however, the program for seniors is more unusual — and 
more difficult — than the program for children because here the museum has delib- 
erately aimed at a segment of the population most likely to be ignored — older peo- 
ple who reside in institutions. 

It was a carefully thought-out decision. "When you start working with outreach 
programs, you have to question who you are and what you are doing,'' says Beving- 
ton. "We are an inner-city museum, and our mandate is to serve as much of the pub- 
lic as we can. You have to ask: 'What is the goal? To reach people who never heard 
of the museum or who might be intimidated by it? Or to reach people who can't come 
here at all?' We chose to go to the immobile elderly who will never come to the mu- 
seum because they can't." 

In developing a program for this audience, Bevington worked with a staff mem- 
ber, Isabel Rosenbaum, who was completing an advanced degree in gerontology at 
the time. Clearly, a lot of understanding of older people undergirds the program and 
is evident not just in what is presented but in how it is presented. 

What type of program will interest people who are quite old and probably not 
very well? The real problem, says Bevington, is not that they are old: "Learning 
doesn't stop," she says. "Research shows that your ability to learn may drop slightly, 
but you are still able to acquire new information.' The problem is that "more often 
than not the residents are over-medicated or under-stimulated, or both," and some- 
times they have "just shut down." 

Two presentations work very well to kindle their interest and participation. One 
is "A Walk in the Wild," an armchair nature walk through the chaparral, a native 



Special programs allow children hands-on experience. 

southern California plant and animal community. Using taxidermied specimens 
from the museum's collection, the docents pass around examples of the wildlife that 
inhabits the area — skunk, fox, gopher, rabbit, scorpion and birds — and encourage 
the residents to touch them and talk about what they have. The presentation ends 
with a videotape that enables residents to see the wildlife and hear the sounds of 
the chaparral. 

Docents are encouraged as they present the program to touch the residents, says 
Bevington, u to put their hands on the person's shoulder, to pick up his hand and 
place it on some of the objects being passed around. Just to be touched and talked 
to is helpful for some of these people." 

The second program, ""Do You Remember When?" focuses on the year 1913. Two 


backdrops are used — one of a kitchen and one of a garage. Docents begin by talk- 
ing about some of the things that were going on that year — the war, the digging of 
the Panama Canal, the inventions, the beginnings of a movie industry. Then they 
narrow the subject down to the home and family life. "What were your mother and 
grandmother doing in the kitchen?" they ask, passing around kitchen objects from 
the period. Sometimes the objects look like the ones we use today (eggbeaters have 
not changed much, for example), but others come from a different era — the wash- 
boards, the sock stretchers, the big wooden stirrers used while doing laundry in a vat 
of boiling water. 

"The best part is the costumes," says Bevington. a One is a housedress that you 
would wear while working at home. We also have an opera coat, with a headband 
and ostrich feather, as well as a bathing costume — it's this huge thing with bloomers 
and a skirt and a big hat. Some of the docents wear those, and it's always great for 
yuks. People wake up and laugh. 

"They talk about the music that was popular then, and sometimes people will 
start singing if they remember a song. Sometimes the docents ask where people were 
in 1 9 13, and there is always someone who came from another country and tells his 
story about coming to the United States and settling in Los Angeles. So we get peo- 
ple sharing their stories." 

Bevington is forthright about the depressing aspects of some of the institutions 
they visit: "We've gone into a range of homes, and we've seen everything from places 
where the smell of urine is just overwhelming and everybody is tied in his wheel- 
chair, wearing diapers, and overmedicated, to places that are just wonderful. There 
is one home in West Hollywood that has a fantastic activity director, and every year 
she brings in the Chippendales — the male strippers. I tell you, it's dynamite. That's 
not the only thing she does, of course, but she brings that kind of energy to the job." 

It has not been easy to get docents to present this program, and Bevington is in- 
sightful as to the reasons: "If you look at the average docent, you find someone who 
is getting on in life. And what they find when they go into these homes is that they 
are facing themselves. It's really difficult. The program for seniors hits close to home. 

"I think for the residents one of the biggest impacts of the program is that some- 
body is talking to them and paying attention. They give you this look that is almost 
beyond words, that says, 'You have shown an interest in me. I'm a human being."' 



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Spertus Museum of Judaica 

Chicago, Illinois 

round a table in the Spertus Mu- 
seum of Judaica are half a dozen older men and women carefully examining objects 
that illustrate aspects of Jewish life — Torah scrolls wrapped in velvet and decorated 
with silver, candle holders and oil lamps used on the Sabbath and Hannukah, a 
prayer shawl, or tallith. These are participants in one of the museum's Leisure Tours, 
designed especially for older adults and for visually impaired visitors. In fact, though, 
these Leisure Tours involve no touring. Senior adults who are not up to walking from 
showcase to showcase ensconce themselves in comfortable chairs while a docent 
brings selected objects from the collection to them. 

The museum's permanent collection specializes in objects that illustrate life in 
the synagogue, objects that are used in the home to celebrate the Sabbath and the 
Jewish holidays, and objects that celebrate such life-cycle events as birth, coming of 
age, marriage, death, and mourning. Most of the objects date from the nineteenth or 
twentieth century, but the museum also has a special archaeological collection of an- 
cient artifacts, which are taken out for special occasions. 

The experience of holding some of these objects is especially meaningful to 
some of the older Jewish men and women. a There was a time when women were 
not permitted to participate in the rituals in which these objects were used," says 
Education Curator Kathi Lieb. "That has changed in America in many commu- 
nities. So, when we pass around a Torah scroll to a seventy or eighty-year-old 
woman, this may be the first time she has ever touched it. It can be a very moving 
experience for her. It can be a significant experience for men, too, who perhaps 
have not participated in a synagogue since they've been in a nursing home, or have 
participated only on major holidays. 

A silver ark used for holding the Torah. 


"We also have the familiar things used in the home — metal boxes used to collect 
coins for the poor, plates used for the Seder on Passover. But we don't give them just 
things they recognize. We like to surprise them, too. That's the wonder of a museum." 

The idea for these tours goes back to the early 1980s when Lieb first contacted 
Horizons for the Blind. "I asked the director, Camille Caffarelli, if she could come out 
and help us learn how to present the collection better," Lieb says. "We had a wonder- 
ful time, and I told her all about Jewish life and ceremonies and took her through the 
museum. When the tour was over she said, 'Kathy, this is all great. But you could have 
told me about it sitting in a room. Everything is behind glass. I can't touch anything.'" 

Shortly after that "we selected objects in the collection that are tactile and in- 
teresting to touch," says Lieb. "Then Camille worked with the docents, explaining 
how to describe things for visually impaired people, and practicing with the docents 
who would be conducting the tactile tours. 

"That soon suggested another possibility to me, which was that this would be ap- 
propriate for senior citizens and those in wheelchairs, some of the more frail senior 
citizens who really just can't stand in the galleries for an hour. So, we developed what 
we call 'leisure tours' so that not only people with visual impairments but also those 
who are in wheelchairs or unable to stand can have these experiences." 

The museum has another program, Armchair Slide Tours, for seniors who are 
too frail to come to the museum. At the invitation of retirement homes or other fa- 
cilities for older persons, docents offer a slide/lecture presentation of objects from 
the permanent collection. The presentation is given in all types of senior citizen re- 
tirement homes, not just in Jewish ones. "We have used this as a way of building 
bridges, of introducing Jewish life to non-Jews," says Lieb. "The presentation is very 
well received. It makes us feel wonderful to do it, and it makes a lot of friends for 
us." Since the volunteer docents supply their own transportation, this program op- 
erates at little or no cost to the museum. 

The museum also holds occasional art exhibitions that feature the work of older 
adults. The work may be produced elsewhere — in nursing homes or other facilities 
for older people — but the museum gives these artists the opportunity to exhibit their 
work, and it throws a reception for them. 

The museum occupies three floors within a ten- story building in downtown 
Chicago. Since the first floor is level with the street, access is easy for wheelchair 
users. A bank of elevators with braille labels connects the three levels. Wide door- 
ways and even floors make each exhibition accessible. Within the permanent collec- 
tion, all exhibition cases are viewable from a seated position. A space on the first 
floor that is also accessible for wheelchairs is used for viewing videos. Clearly the 
museum is serious about making its facilities accessible. 


The ARTIFACT CENTER recreates an archaeological dig. 

In 1991 Eunice Joffe, access consultant with the Illinois Arts Council, was asked 
to assess the museum. "We and the consultant felt that we were very accessible, ex- 
cept for deaf visitors," says Lieb. "We do not have anyone who signs. 7 ' Joffe also pre- 
sented a lecture to staff and volunteers on how to work with people with a variety of 
disabilities. In the same year the museum initiated a training session on accessibil- 
ity and "we invited educators from all the Chicago museums to join us because we 
felt that these were important issues for all museums," Lieb says. 

The lower level of the museum houses the artefact center This exhibit recre- 
ates an archaeological dig as realistically as can be done inside a building. "This is 
probably the first archaeological dig in a museum that attempts to look like the real 
thing as well as offer the experience," says Susan Marcus, curator of the artifact 


5 1 

center. "I've seen quite a number that are gridded boxes, and they are salted with 
artifacts and one layer deep. Ours is a mountain. It's ten feet high, thirty-two feet 
long, and about twelve feet deep. At the back we show the strata and have windows 
into the different layers. The front has eleven different trenches built into it. Each 
trench is from a successive layer of history and has the appropriate objects from the 
material culture at that particular historic moment. 

"Now, when we have people with disabilities visit us, we have at least six trenches 
that are accessible to people who can't move up the mountain. So if you are in a 
wheelchair, or you have crutches, or you are visually impaired and don't really want 
to climb to the top, you can have the same experience digging in these trenches," 
says Marcus. 

The dig is not just for children; it's for everybody — but children love it, includ- 
ing children in wheelchairs, and learning and developmentally disabled children. 
"That's because it's so physical; there's a lot of learning that goes on simply by do- 
ing," says Marcus. "And children with severe problems do pretty well here because 
there is no failure. Everybody always finds something. 

"When the children uncover the artifacts and objects that are in here, they doc- 
ument what they find. They map it, and they analyze their findings. It's the whole 
process of an archaeological dig without the lab work. We are very forthright. We 
say, 'This is a model; it's not the real thing. So instead of sending your finds off to 
the lab where they would be identified and weighed and sorted, you're going to bury 
them again for the next group that comes along.' And they do. They often bury them 
according to their maps. And they clean up their work space. 

"With learning disabled kids, we make adjustments. If they have a hard time 
recording things, they'll do a good job drawing. If they have a hard time with the 
drawing, we find something else, like letting them dictate into an audiocassete 
recorder. We find a way so that everybody succeeds." 

The youngsters, usually sixth-graders, dig for artifacts — some real, some copies 
of objects in the collection. The real artifacts are potsherds, broken fragments of pot- 
tery, that are about 2,000 years old. "They have been here quite a while. Nobody 
ever walks with them," says Marcus. Items copied from the collection include a 
3,000-year-old canteen with a built-in cup, oil lamps, spearheads and arrowheads, 
and a Greek helmet from the time of Alexander the Great. "We had an artist create 
a wonderful copy of a helmet with a nose protector. Uncovering it is a thrill," says 
Marcus. "It's a beautiful piece and everybody loves it." 

The art i fact center also features a marketplace where each of the four booths 
teaches something about life in ancient Israel — trade and travel; pottery and the 
uses of clay; writing systems of antiquity; and armaments, amulets, and adornments. 


It's all hands-on and meant to be fun. ""The trade and travel booth," says Marcus, 
"is a game. There are samples of products that were bought and sold 3,000 year ago 
that people still use today — spices, wool, flax, cereals, resins. The game concerns the 
products that were traded and the major cities where they were traded. And the ob- 
ject of the game — well, just like today, you win if you're the richest trader." 

The writing booth has a variety of activities to teach children how to write in an- 
cient script. They can find their initials on a chart and then go across the chart and 
find how they would write a sign for the same sound in an alphabet that was used 
2,800 years ago. Youngsters who are visually impaired can trace the cuneiform sym- 
bols and pictographic writing with their fingers and read the braille labels. 

The artIfact center has been open since March 1989. Susan Marcus did not 
at first anticipate how popular it would be with disabled children. "We soon learned 
something really wonderful — that we were a natural. A lot of what we have in the 
ARTiFACT center is very tangible, very concrete, and you can learn a great deal from 
touching and associating. So the kids get a lot out of their visits to the center, but it's 
not all one-sided; we learn from them, too. They tell me things I'd miss otherwise — 
the shape and feel and temperature of an object, for example. It gives you a differ- 
ent perspective." 





Aquarium of the Americas 

New Orleans, Louisiana 

mother, two preschoolers, and a 
toddler in a stroller view with rapt attention the stunning Gulf of Mexico exhibit in 
the Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans. The children are all fascinated by 
their closeness to the sharks and the uninterrupted panorama of sea life before them. 
What is unusual about the scene is that the mother does not have to pick up any of 
the children so that they can see the exhibit. Instead, an expanse of glass thirty- seven 
feet wide and thirteen inches thick runs from the ceiling to the floor. There are no 
barriers to look over to see what is in the tank. Extending the glass all the way to 
the floor (thus eliminating a twenty-seven inch proposed sill from the design) was 
the idea of the committee for special populations, which envisioned easier viewing 
for people in wheelchairs. 

"It just goes to show," says Charles Tubre, chairman of the committee, "that as 
a by-product of designing for special populations, we have made it an enhanced ex- 
perience for all people." 

It also shows what can be accomplished when a committee for special popula- 
tions is brought into the design and planning of a public building. "We were able to 
imbue the project developers and managers with the philosophy of accessibility be- 
fore there was even a first drawing," says Tubre. Creating open access "was an inte- 
gral part of the planning process — from the designing of the building, to the train- 
ing of the staff, to the philosophy of employment." 

Clyde Butler, first vice president for operations and construction, concurs. When 
the $40 million aquarium was proposed, residents voted to support the project by au- 
thorizing the sale of $25 million in bonds. Then, the Audubon Institute, which oper- 
ates the facility, solicited another $15 million from the public sector. "One of our 

Visitors see four exhibits replicating natural aquatic habitats. 


The Aquarium of the Americas, on the banks of the Mississippi River. 

pledges to the community," says Butler, "was to make this a facility that every per- 
son in the state of Louisiana could be proud of, a world-class aquarium that would 
be accessible to everyone." 

The aim of the aquarium is not just to enclose interesting fish in glass tanks but 
to recreate specific environments, and it tries to bring visitors into close contact with 
these environments and their aquatic life. Four major exhibits are replicas of nat- 
ural habitats: a Caribbean Reef, the Amazon Rainforest, the Mississippi River Delta, 
and the Gulf of Mexico. 

Starting the committee to make the aquarium accessible to everyone was the idea 
of Dr. Molly Alarcon, a special education clinician and the committee's only mem- 
ber without a disability. Looking for representatives of the different disability groups, 
Alarcon first called Gerald and Ida Mialaret, former teachers and parents of an autis- 
tic child. They introduced her to Charles Tubre, from the staff of the Louisiana De- 
partment of Public Health, who had wide experience consulting with architects to 
make buildings accessible. Other members were added: Dr. Robert McLean, a math- 
ematician who is blind, and James Forstall, state coordinator for the deaf who is deaf 



himself. "Each member brought to this project a lot of experience and a lot of tech- 
nical knowledge concerning special population needs," says Tubre. "But it was to 
the credit of Ronald Forman, president and chief executive officer of the Audubon 
Institute, and to the architects that they took advantage of it." 

Designing with accessibility in mind was also a good idea, says Molly Alarcon, 
from an economic point of view. "One of New Orleans's main industries is tourism. 
Here was this wonderful aquarium going up in an ideal location — right in the French 
quarter on the Mississippi River — and it was being marketed as another reason to 
come to New Orleans. Now, when you start getting into marketing, it's not just the 
nice thing to do to help out the poor handicapped people. It's economically smart. 

"For one thing, when you make adjustments for individuals with disabilities, 
these adjustments are going to be very good for a lot of other people — for senior cit- 
izens, for example. With age, we all lose our vision and our hearing and our mobil- 
ity to some degree. And to mothers with toddlers or kids in strollers" such accessi- 
bility enables both the children and the parents to enjoy the exhibits. 

The director and the staff made efforts to involve the community, especially the 
disabled community. "We took our show on the road," says Clyde Butler. "We did a 
series of town meetings where we went out as a committee to meet with other mem- 
bers of the handicapped community and let them know what was going on and to 
say, 'Look, tell us how to make this building suit your needs." 

By the time the aquarium opened in September 1990, the committee had been 
together for more than three years, working about sixteen hours a month. In the be- 
ginning they worked with the architects and the blueprints. "It wasn't as if someone 
said, 'Come on in and take all the candy you want,'" says Tubre. "It was, 'We wel- 
come you to the table.' It was never adversarial. When we had differences, we worked 
them out like professionals and arrived at a middle ground." 

When the skeleton of the new building was up, the committee held a walk- 
through. Then it began working with the director of exhibits. They inspected all the 
scaled models. The committee sent letters to groups representing disabled people and 
asked them to meet one night and go through the exhibit models. "That was a cru- 
cial meeting," says Molly Alarcon, "because that night one of the disabled vets 
identified a problem in the safety plan. 'If you have a fire, how are you going to get 
the people in wheelchairs down from the second floor?' he asked. 'You have blink- 
ing lights for the deaf person; you have a siren for blind people. But what do you do 
with people in wheelchairs?' As a result of this meeting, the staff developed a spe- 
cial procedure for them." The procedure involves directing persons in wheelchairs 
to the second-floor balcony. Here, presumably they would be safe but easily could 
be evacuated by the fire department, if necessary. 



Clyde Butler, who, as director of construction, was responsible for implementing 
all the agreed-upon modifications recommended by the special populations com- 
mittee, is enthusiastic about the innovations that help disabled individuals enjoy and 
participate in the aquarium's offerings. 

"We have several pieces of what we call interactive graphics, where you manip- 
ulate a piece of equipment with a push button or a lever, which anybody can oper- 
ate because it takes very little strength in your hands. For example, in the Gulf of 
Mexico and Caribbean Reef exhibits, there is a mounted camera. You press a lever 
to control it. The camera moves on a rod across the length of the tank and does a 
180 degree pan, so that it can cover from the top to the bottom of the water. When 
you want to take a close look at something, you simply hit the zoom button, and then 
tv monitors mounted on the wall pick it up so that everyone can see what the cam- 
era sees. . . . the kids love it." 

The aquarium is experimenting with two types of levers, says Butler. "One is 
thumb -lever action, which is like a small joy stick. It doesn't take much finger pres- 
sure at all to operate it. The other is a button; it's like ringing a doorbell. We're try- 
ing to see which system is received better." 

In addition to making the 500,000-gallon Gulf of Mexico exhibit visible from floor 
to ceiling, the aquarium has made sure that, in its smaller exhibits, no surface that 
the public comes in contact with is higher than twenty-one inches from the floor. 
"That means," says Butler, "that a person in a wheelchair will not have to have spe- 
cial provisions to roll up to an exhibit and do what everyone else is doing. For ex- 
ample, youngsters can put their hands into the touch pool and pick up a starfish or 
a spineless lobster and hold it in their hands and watch it crawl up their fingers. They 
do not have to have someone pick them up and hang them over the pool. It takes the 
indignity out of coming to the aquarium." 

For hearing-impaired visitors, every one of the aquarium's twenty-two video ex- 
hibits is captioned. They cover such topics as how fish move, the life cycle of a shark, 
and the differences between tropical and subtropical penguins. 

The aquarium also has the services of three sign-language interpreters. One of 
these is a museum volunteer; the others are made available by the state for one day 
a month. James Forstall, a member of the special populations committee and state 
coordinator for the deaf, publishes a monthly newsletter, which publicizes the dates 
and times when interpreters are available. This information enables groups wishing 
guided tours to make arrangements for them. 

Because the aquarium has a cadre of 800 volunteers, any group that wants a 

The aquarium encourages hands-on activity in some exhibits. 



guided tour can make that wish known when it purchases tickets, and a guide will 
be waiting when the group arrives. Tickets are sold by time slots so that the aquar- 
ium is never overcrowded and traffic moves easily. "Wheelchairs take more time and 
space," says Butler, "so we group them in smaller segments when there are fewer 
people in the building. We always know how many tickets we have sold for every 
hour, and we are very sensitive about not putting too many people in the building at 
the same time weVe got wheelchairs." 

"I had someone ask me, 'Why would a blind person want to go to the aquarium?' 
says Molly Alarcon. "Well, the same reason anyone else would want to go — to ex- 
perience the fish and the feeling and the sounds and the sights — the sights being 
mental images." To help create those mental images, the aquarium is working on an 
audiocassette especially for those with visual impairments. 

"There are some important things to remember when you describe things to blind 
people. For example, for a sighted person you might say, 'Look at the big fish.' For 
a blind person, you might say, 'This tank has fish in it that are as big as your hand.' 
We are developing a script for an auditory guide to the facility that will give blind 
persons not only the background and technical information about each exhibit but 
also the the types of descriptions that are meaningful to them. The cassette will give 
them more freedom in exploring the aquarium." 

The Aquarium of the Americas is high-tech throughout, including the restrooms. 
"Everything is electronic," says Butler. "You don't push or touch anything. You walk 
up to the fountain to wash your hands, and the water comes on. You finish using the 
urinal, and it automatically flushes. Every stall is designed for disabled persons — 
and so is every water fountain and every telephone. I figure that it's a minor incon- 
venience for the able bodied to bend over just a little bit more." 

Calculating the costs for this type of accessibility is difficult. Charles Tubre says, 
"As a rule of thumb, to design a building to accommodate persons with special needs 
adds one percent to the cost of new construction. But the aquarium managers went 
well beyond the minimum requirements." Clyde Butler says that the extra cost of 
such special features as the floor-to-ceiling glass in the Gulf exhibit is about fourteen 
percent. "But," he says, "it's worth it. And once these things are in place, the cost of 
maintenance is very slight." Molly Alarcon says, "Building in accessibility saves 
money — not only because you do not have to do it over again but because it makes 
it a better facility for everybody and in the long run is very cost-effective." 

The architectural barriers may be eliminated, but the committee does not regard its 
work as finished. "Everyone thinks, 'Well, the doors are wide, the ramps are sloped, the 
signage is good. This is wonderful.' And, indeed, it is. But we still have a ways to go." 

One area of concern is hiring practices. The aquarium already has two autistic 


individuals working there, yet everyone agrees that the disabled community is not 
yet well represented on the staff. The goal is to have disabled persons in manager- 
ial positions. 

The committee also focuses on training. "You can have the greatest facility, the 
most accessible architecture in the world and if your staff is not trained, and your 
volunteers are not trained, and the people who run the museum shop are not trained 
to have an accepting attitude, then you're undoing what you've accomplished," says 
Alarcon. The committee is writing part of the training manual for volunteers and ar- 
ranging training sessions for staff and volunteers. 

The emphasis is on breaking down attitudinal barriers. "The committee wants 
to get away from some of the old terminology," says Clyde Butler. "For example, the 
word 'handicapped' is not much used anymore because 'disabled' is better. It means 
you aren't regarded as handicapped but as someone who is disabled from doing cer- 
tain things." 

Training for volunteers is designed to give them the tools they need to be com- 
fortable in communicating with persons with special needs. Full-day training ses- 
sions are held twice a year with one hour of the day devoted to the needs of special 
populations. At the first training session, volunteers heard a representative of the 
Epilepsy Foundation describe what to do if someone had a seizure. The volunteers 
performed some role-playing with a sight-impaired person and learned how to use 
the aquarium's tt. They also learned that it is always right to offer assistance and 
that they should never be insulted if the response is, "No, thanks, I'm doing fine." 

Clyde Butler is justly proud of the aquarium's accessibility and strong in his praise 
for the special populations committee, but he adds, "I don't want you to think this 
was easy. We went through a lot of discussions and held a lot of meetings. Sometimes 
we impassed and did nothing. There were difficult issues to resolve." Charles Tubre 
agrees that there was "give and take," but he points out one very good reason why 
management and the committee worked together so effectively: "We had a common 
goal — to make this a world-class structure that would accommodate all visitors — 
and we never lost sight of it." 


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The Bloedel Reserve 

Bainbridge Island, Washington 

eople are not set apart from the rest of 
nature — they are just members of that incredibly diverse population of the uni- 
verse, members that nature can do without but who cannot do without 
nature. So wrote Prentice Bloedel in 1980 regarding his decision to create a nature 
reserve of his estate on Bainbridge Island, Washington. He sought to create a re- 
serve where all people could come to "enjoy and learn from the emotional and es- 
thetic experiences of nature." 

Bloedel and his wife Virginia purchased the estate in 1951. This 150 acre reserve 
is on the northern tip of the island in the Puget Sound. To the east is Seattle and, 
beyond that, the Cascades; to the west are the Olympic Peaks. A French country 
house stands on a bluff overlooking Port Madison Bay near Agate Pass. Here the 
Bloedels found "plants and colonies of fragile woodland species, mosses, ferns, a 
world of incomparable diversity." The Bloedels left some eighty-four acres in sec- 
ond-growth forest. They added trails to make these areas more accessible. On the 
other acres they developed various gardens, ponds, bird refuges, glens, and mead- 
ows. These are altered landscapes, but they have been changed in ways consistent 
with the Bloedels' philosophy that people should be trustees of their environment 
and not conquerors of it. 

In 1974, with the idea of turning all of this over to the public, Bloedel established 
a nonprofit foundation, the Arbor Fund, to administer the reserve and an endow- 
ment to assure its perpetual maintenance. In 1986 the main house was remodeled to 
create a visitors' center. Public rooms are on the main floor and offices are upstairs. 
A new building erected at the entrance serves as a gatehouse and orientation center. 
A planning firm developed a main circulation route through the reserve that would 

Many of the Bloedel Reserve's trails are wheelchair accessible. 



not only be easy for the public to follow but also adhere to Mr. Bloedel's wishes that 
the landscapes of the reserve be revealed in a sequence that would show their unity 
and integrity. 

When the Bloedel Reserve was opened to the public in October 1988, its staff 
made a commitment to make the reserve accessible. With the appointment of Patri- 
cia M. Ostenson as program coordinator, the reserve gained an expert who had or- 
ganized programs at the Seattle Aquarium for special populations, conducted work- 
shops on accessibility, and served on national panels on accessibility issues. 

Work on accessibility began at once. With only $500 Ostenson installed a tt (Tele- 
phone Text for hearing impaired people) and paid for the printing of "Accessibility 
at the Bloedel Reserve," a handbook for staff and volunteers. The handbook, which 
Ostenson wrote with input from the Washington Library for the Blind and other 
groups, is a model of common sense and sensitivity on how to approach and assist 
disabled persons. For example, under the heading "General Approach," the hand- 
book advises the volunteer to "Speak directly to the person, not to the interpreter." 
In working with visually impaired individuals, "identify yourself. Tell the person 
when you're approaching or leaving so they won't be startled by your presence or 
stranded by your absence." 

With a hearing-impaired person, who may be lip-reading, the volunteer is re- 
minded to "make sure light isn't shining into a person's eyes"; with learning-im- 
paired persons, "give those with speech problems extra time to express them- 
selves." The handbook is the basic training document for the reserve's fifty-four 
volunteers. There is one formal orientation session for volunteers, and part of it is 
devoted to accessibility. "From then on," says Ostenson, "it's all on-the-job expe- 


For visually impaired persons — or anyone — wishing to tour the reserve without 
a guide, the "Self-Guiding Walking Tour" was written and produced both as a cas- 
sette and as a brochure with large, readable type. 

Ostenson's experience at the Seattle Aquarium convinced her that the way to start 
programs for disabled persons is to work with a committee of experts — i.e., disabled 
persons. "It's the only way to do it because it avoids so many pitfalls." 

Within a few months she had an informal committee to consult with: Mary Kim- 
ball, representing mobility impairments; Maril Elliott, representing hearing impair- 
ments; and Barrie Burkhalter, representing visual impairments. By the spring of 1991 
the committee scheduled regular meetings. "We will get their suggestions on pro- 
gramming and ask them to monitor the grounds," says Ostenson. "They will also be 

People may use a ramp to enter the visitors ' center. 



a resource for our staff and give everyone a chance to see the process work, rather 
than having myself always as point person." 

The committee was drawn from those who were already frequent visitors to the 
reserve. Mary Kimball, who has used a wheelchair since having polio 46 years ago, 
says, "Ever since I joined the reserve three years ago, I have been kind of needling 
them. Whenever I saw things that I felt wouldn't be too hard to fix, I told them about 
it. So, they pretty soon knew me." 

Far from objecting to being "needled," Ostenson took full advantage of Kim- 
ball's perspective. "When we are working on trails, I think of what Mrs. Kimball 
will say if we don't do it right," she says. "She has wheeled through the grounds 
with the maintenance staff several times, looking for places where the trails need 
improving and pointing out where ramps would work well, but she is very rea- 
sonable in her requests. For example, if you have access into an area and it's ex- 
tremely difficult to create a circular pattern, Mrs. Kimball says it's perfectly ac- 
ceptable to come out the same way you went in. It's been gratifying to us to know 
that's okay." 

"When the reserve first opened," says Mary Kimball, "all the roads were just 
dirt and gravel. And that's difficult for wheelchairs. But when they announced that 
they were going to pave the main road, I was stunned. I hate to see a road put in. 
So I said, 'Oh, no, no, no. Leave it natural. Let us struggle. I can get around.' And 
then they did it, and now I think it's the greatest thing. It's nice for some of the 
older people, too. I see an older woman pushing her husband in a wheelchair or a 
man pushing his wife, and, you know, the chair just glides along, no struggle in 

The trails are not paved. They are crushed stone overlaid with bark. They are 
firm and packed down well. Generally they are four feet wide, have no more than a 
five degree grade, and have definite "shorelines" — edges that are distinctly different 
from other surfaces. "We built the bark up so that the trail is very readily definable," 
says Ostenson. When you ride or walk upon the crushed rock, the resulting sound 
and texture is very different from that of the bark. This enables you to know if you 
ever veer off the trail. 

When the Kitsap Handicapped Action Committee evaluated the grounds for ac- 
cessibility in 1989, it was "impressed with the steps already taken," but added two 
pages of suggested improvements. The reserve responded immediately. It added two 
ramps to make the guest house in the Japanese Garden accessible, had a ramp resur- 
faced, added a railing outside the visitor's center, installed a contrast strip on mar- 
ble steps, and created some pull-off areas, with benches, where wheelchair users and 
their companions can stop and rest. 

tup: access i ble museum 

Prentice BloedeVs home was remodeled as a visitors'' center in ig86. 

Most of all, they "took to heart" the suggestion that guides be trained to conduct 
tours based on the ability of the visitor. "If someone in a wheelchair asks, 'Where 
can I go?' we recommend the easiest route — the central gardens," says Ostenson. 
"A more difficult tour, but do-able with a companion, is the bird refuge. The glen is 
too difficult unless you are athletically wonderful. 

"We train the tour guides to respond to special requests or special needs. But we 
don't announce, 'On Tuesdays we have tours for blind persons or deaf persons.' If a 
group with special needs arrives, we ask them what they want to do. If we have in- 
dividuals with impaired vision, we make sure to use very descriptive language. And 
we make sure that each person has a chance to tell the difference in the trees along 
the trail — the firs, cedars, and alders — by feeling both the needles and the bark, as 
well as the moss, rocks, seeds, and other vegetation. 

"This is a useful approach with children's tours, too. Kids really benefit from good 
descriptive language and enjoy the tactile objects. You don't have to be blind to en- 
joy the feeling of moss." 

Each summer Ostenson invites the Lighthouse for the Blind to bring their sum- 
mer campers to the reserve for a field trip. About twenty-five deaf/blind campers ar- 
rive, each with a volunteer interpreter. By all accounts, it is a very positive experi- 

6 9 

A portion of the Bloedel Reserve's 15c acres. 

ence for them. "One boy took a keen interest in the feel of the bark and the leaves," 
says Ostenson. "It was clear that he was interested in botany because he drew very 
interesting comparisons between the deciduous trees and the evergreen trees and 
asked good questions about whether the fir tree was really a pine. So that was a lot 
of fun. And Paula Hoffman, who puts the camp together, wrote later to say that many 
campers had commented that even if they couldn't see or hear, the experience had 
felt wonderful for them." 

Ostenson looks forward each year to the campers and does not regard the pres- 
ence of so many profoundly disabled persons in the reserve at the same time as too 
demanding. She credits the interpreters with doing the hard work. 

For all the effort put into making the reserve accessible, however, when it comes 
to seventy acres of trails, steps, cliffs, ravines, and swamps, it is obvious that not 
every vista can be accessible to every visitor. No one is quicker to see that and ac- 
cept it than Mary Kimball. "There are places I couldn't — shouldn't — go. Lovely 
rocky places, places there's no way a wheelchair could get through. 

"My son discovered this state when he came here between college and the Viet- 



nam War. And after that, when he came out here to live, he said, 'Mom, there are 
places in the world that shouldn't be accessible too easily. You shouldn't be able to 
drive a car there; you shouldn't even have a path for a wheelchair.' And he's right. 
You can't make everything accessible. But it's just miraculous how much more is ac- 
cessible than there used to be. And you can see so much of the reserve that what you 
miss doesn't matter." 

"Now, the visitors' center," she says, "is totally accessible, as it should be. You 
just go to the side entrance by the breezeway, and it's all ramped, and you come right 
in. And the doorways are all wide; its just wonderful. 

"They have a bathroom that's just huge — totally accessible, and would be for 
someone with an attendant with them. Sometimes architects have the strangest idea 
of bathroom accessibility. Lots of times when they put the booths in, they make the 
door wide enough, but they don't make the area deep enough so you can close it be- 
hind you. But here it's just a lovely old-fashioned big bathroom." 

The visitors' center is also the setting for musical performances, readings, and 
plays. "Oh, that's such fun," says Kimball. Invitations and notices are sent to the 
two thousand members. "When you get that concert notice, you just have to hit the 
phone as fast as you can." The events take place in the big living room during the 
winter and on the east lawn in the summer so that the audience has a view of the 

Some of the performances are signed. Ostenson hopes to have $1,000 more next 
year to increase the number of concerts that are signed. To get the word out, she re- 
lies not only on the mailings to members but also on letters and phone calls to agen- 
cies and on committee members, to make sure people with various disabilities know 
about these performances and the accessibility of the visitors' center. "But we don't 
call up and say, 'We're having something for nonhearing people. Care to come?' 
That's the value in just including it as one of our regular performances. It lets peo- 
ple know that, with just a little effort on behalf of those with disabilities, the per- 
formances, like the reserve itself, can be for everyone." 

7 1 

Drayton Hall 

Charleston, South Carolina 

rayton Hall is truly a national trea- 
sure. Built between 1738 and 1742, the house is one of the finest examples of Geor- 
gian Palladian architecture in America. Through seven generations of family 
ownership, this National Historic Landmark has remained in virtually original 
condition. It is the only Ashley River plantation house to survive the Civil War in- 
tact. It has no running water, electric lights, central heating or air conditioning. 
Some walls still contain the original paint. Its remarkable state of preservation 
and its authenticity offer visitors a rare glimpse into the social and cultural his- 
tory of the South. 

As with some other historic buildings, though, Drayton Hall faces restrictions on 
the types of alterations it can make to accommodate disabled persons. In addition, 
Drayton Hall had a special problem of its own: The type of tour best suited to ex- 
plain the site was quite unsuitable for one segment of the audience — hearing-im- 
paired people. 

As Meggett Lavin, curator of education and research, explains: "We're a different 
kind of site. We're not a typical house museum because we don't have furniture. We're 
not a ruin because we are in a lot better condition. What we do is interpret the house. 
We use its architecture and the landscape to shed light on the history and culture of 
the area, and we also introduce visitors to the philosophy of preservation. There are 
no exhibits and no signage in the house. This means that visitors have to learn by 
hearing, and that presented obvious problems for our hearing-impaired guests." 

In 1986 the National Endowment for the Arts held a workshop at Drayton Hall 
on Access for Disabled Visitors to Historic Sites. The Drayton Hall staff responded 
by undertaking a project to make the tours better for hearing-impaired visitors. 

Drayton Hall opened to the public in 197?. 




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The first idea was to have two simultaneous sign language interpreters take the 
tour with the project coordinator, Charlie McKinney, from the South Carolina Asso- 
ciation for the Deaf. Because the tour focuses on architecture, it uses a lot of archi- 
tectural terms, and "the interpreters had to finger-spell just about everything. By the 
end of the tour, they were exhausted," says Lavin. "We knew then that having sign 
language interpreters take the tours on a regular basis was not the answer. 

"The written tour was the solution. But we did about five versions before we got 
it right. When we tried the first prototype with Charlie, he had no idea where he was 
supposed to be most of the time. That was when we learned that we had to be very 
clear about directions." 

The various versions of the text were reviewed by the advisory committee, all of 
whom represented the hearing-impaired community. These versions were then field- 
tested by local hearing-impaired persons, who would take the tour and offer sug- 
gestions. Comments and suggestions were incorporated into revised drafts and tested 
again. The process took almost a year. 

The final forty-page booklet is elegantly simple. The major sections are tabbed: 
Directions, Introduction, First Floor, Second Floor, Riverfront/Basement, and an ad- 
dendum. Each description of a room or a facade occupies opposing pages; on the left 
are crisp black-and-white illustrations depicting the architectural elements and ba- 
sic concepts that are discussed on the right-hand page. Architectural terms are in 
boldface and clearly defined. At the top of each right-hand page is a floor plan with 
an V marking the room described. The book is printed in Presentor A typeface 
(twelve point, with fourteen point leading) to make it easy to read. 

When a hearing -imp aired visitor is on the tour, the interpreter carries a copy of 
the written tour and shows what page they are on at each room. That way hearing- 
impaired visitors always know where they are in the house, even if the guide has had 
to change the order of the regular tour. 

A small grant from the Arts Endowment and the National Trust for Historic 
Preservation paid for the preparation and first printing of 500 copies. The total cost 
for the booklet was $3,740 (preparation of the script — $500; illustrations — $250; 
supplies — $40; printing — $3,000). This was a bargain, by any standard. 

The booklet makes an important difference for hearing-impaired visitors. Net- 
tie Allen, a member of Self-Help for Hard of Hearing People, Inc., reports her ex- 
perience: "Strategically placed at Drayton Hall's entrance gate is an easily seen 
sign, A Written Tour Is Available For Persons with Hearing Impairment. Please 
ask gatekeeper for information.' Following directions, I inquired of the gatekeeper 

One device for mastering Drayton Hall's exterior stairs. 





and was given a sheet with a welcome, a map of the grounds, and directions for 
securing and using the written tour booklet. 

"Proceeding to the Preservation Shop as directed, I noted a ramp leading up to 
the porch and also a wheelchair- accessible fountain and restroom facilities. ... In 
the shop I was immediately handed a neat, gray 8 1/2 x 11" spiral-bound booklet. 

"Since the leisurely tours are scheduled hourly, hearing-impaired visitors could 
have ample time at the outdoor tables and benches to peruse the booklet before- 
hand. ... Its illustrations and brief, clear descriptions of design and historical notes 
parallel information to be given by docents. 

"Being accustomed to well-furnished historical properties, I was surprised to find 
that the fact that the large house is unfurnished definitely adds to one's ability to 
more clearly observe and appreciate the architecture and the elegance of its hand- 
crafted details. The booklet proves most effective in helping one follow docent com- 
ments and in identifying various features of the house and grounds." 

In 1988, a conference of hearing-impaired persons provided what Lavin calls "the 
ultimate test" of the written tour. Normally, Drayton Hall staff would schedule a spe- 
cial tour for a group of hearing-impaired visitors and add extra museum interpreters 
as well as sign-language interpreters to assist with the tours. "We did have a special 
conference tour, but many people from the conference came here on their own, both 
hearing and hearing-impaired together," says Lavin. "The interpreters took every- 
body through on the regular tours, and it was just fine. That's when we knew the 
written tour worked." 

The booklet is also helpful to groups other than visitors with hearing impair- 
ments. "The written tour has been very helpful for older visitors, who don't quite 
admit that they are hearing-impaired but do appreciate having something to follow," 
says Lavin. 

"We also use it as a training tool for new museum interpreters. Teachers and stu- 
dents like it, too, because it is useful for research and pre- visit activities. Schools of- 
ten purchase copies. 

"We've also used it as a basis for a translated tour for our foreign visitors. We 
have French, German, and Spanish versions of the written tour, and we are now look- 
ing for someone to translate it into Japanese. It is a great project to undertake for 
the multiple benefits that come out of it — not only meeting the needs of one audi- 
ence but all across the board." 

Another improvement has made the tour much more meaningful for mobility- 
impaired visitors. Until recently, a mobility-impaired visitor could not get to the first 
floor. Due to damp soil conditions, Drayton Hall has a raised basement, and reach- 
ing the first floor requires going up a flight of thirteen steps. A mobility-impaired 



person had to be content with looking at photos, which an interpreter would explain; 
joining the regular tour to see the exterior of the house, the basement, the riverfront, 
and the grounds; and viewing the interior of the house on a videotape. Now, every- 
one has access to the first floor because of the installation of Stair Trac. 

Stair Trac is an independent unit that lifts one person at a time up a flight of 
stairs without being physically attached to the building. "It was developed in Swe- 
den and is very stable," says Lavin. "We tried it out with people before we purchased 
it and did a survey around the country to see how it was working. It's an investment 
of $3,500, but we are excited to finally have a way to get people up to the main floor." 

The Stair Trac is unable to go up the second floor steps because of their angle, 
but even mobile visitors must go up single file to cross over a bridge that spans the 
ballroom out to the portico. Drayton Hall is in the midst of a two-year study of the 
structural stresses on the building, and few visitors are permitted access. "The tour 
concentrates on the exterior, basement, first floor, and landscape," says Lavin. 

Drayton Hall has a full-time staff of thirteen and about twenty-seven part-time 
staff members and volunteers, including twelve interpreters. Most of the interpreters 
are paid, part-time staff members. The success of the tours depends heavily on the in- 
terpreters, who are expected to keep up with the new information that research is con- 
stantly revealing about Drayton Hall and to be expert in dealing with people as well. 

The tours for visually impaired persons, for example, are one-on-one and are 
adapted to each individual. "Our staff is very flexible," says Lavin. "An interpreter 
can read the audience and do what is necessary to get across the objectives. When 
visually impaired visitors come, we find out what they are interested in and then 
adapt the tour. We have a model of the house so that they can understand the whole 
construction, and there are some features they can touch without causing damage. 
We change the tour a little to focus on construction, materials, and layout in addi- 
tion to the history. " 

As museums go, Drayton Hall is relatively new. It has been open to the public 
only since 1977, but it has found ways to make disabled persons welcome and to give 
them tours comparable to those enjoyed by the non-disabled visitors. 

"I don't think we would be very successful with a whole busload of visually im- 
paired visitors, though," says Lavin. "We don't have enough models." She reflects 
for a moment and then adds, "I think we could do it in the future, though. Nothing 
is impossible." 



Jim Buck Ross Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry 
National Agricultural Aviation Museum 

Jackson, Mississippi 

he sprawling grounds of the Jim Buck Ross 
Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry/National Agricultural Aviation Museum pre- 
sent a major accessibility challenge because many of the exhibits are based on his- 
torical tradition and most are also outdoors. 

This unique museum is named for the Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture 
and Commerce, Jim Buck Ross. As you can guess from its name, it has exhibits on 
agriculture, forestry, and agricultural aviation. The objective of the museum is to 
preserve part of the history of the rural South — to tell, as its brochure says, "the 
story of Mississippi and how agriculture has shaped our heritage." 

To tell that story and to preserve that heritage, the museum relies very little on 
exhibiting artifacts in glass-covered cases. Instead, it depends heavily on keeping 
alive traditions and a way of life through actual working exhibits. With its cotton gin 
that really runs, its sugarcane syrup-making events, its mule festivals, and its coun- 
try store with penny candy for sale, the museum has captured a way of life as it was 
seventy years ago. It's a way of life that can now be experienced by everyone, not 
through books or movies but, as the brochure describes it, "up close and personal." 

Established in 1983 on a thirty-nine acre site, the museum has a place for every- 
thing its name suggests — agriculture, forestry, aviation — and more. The four main 
areas include: (1) The Heritage Center, which has 35,000 square feet of exhibits trac- 
ing the history of agriculture and forestry in the region. Organized around the theme 
of transportation, the exhibits go from the water era to the rail and road eras, end- 
ing with agricultural aviation, which is represented by three crop-dusting aircraft. 
(2) The Fortenberry-Parkman farm, built in i860 and restored as it was in the 1920s, 
a working farm where chores are performed daily. (3) Small Town, a typical 1920s 

At least twelve major events are held each year. 


village with a general store, restored church, blacksmith shop, grist mill, Masonic 
Lodge, cotton gin, filling station, schoolhouse, and doctor's office. (4) Forest Study 
Trail, which has a swinging bridge and boardwalk and is the habitat of 94 of the 136 
commercial types of trees growing in Mississippi. (These are identified by name signs 
to assist those who come to study the environment.) 

Also on the grounds are a sugarcane mill, a children's barnyard, an amphithe- 
ater, a pavilion, an arts and crafts building, and a recent addition — a building ex- 
hibiting Indian artifacts. 

It is a museum with broad appeal. Older adults, who make up twenty-five per- 
cent of the audience, love it. "They like to browse and relive," says Margie FitzGer- 
ald, the museum curator. "It's a great place for that." School children love it, too, 
and on a single day the museum might play host to as many as 1,500 students who 
are blissfully unaware that they are absorbing history. 

The museum is a great place, too, for people with disabilities, many of whom are 
also neighbors. Next door are the Mississippi School for the Deaf and the Mississippi 
School for the Blind. A few blocks away are the Veterans Administration Medical 
Center and the Mississippi Methodist Rehabilitation Center. Also in the area are the 
Hudspeth Retardation Center, Willowood Developmental Center, and Mississippi 
State Hospital. Visitors frequently come to the museum from all these places, and 
the museum was designed to accommodate and welcome them all. 

Visitors who use wheelchairs find few obstacles to prevent them from going where 
they wish and seeing what they want to see. The Heritage Center is a one-level build- 
ing with wide, unimpeded aisles through the exhibit area. It has a telephone, water 
fountain, and restrooms designed to accommodate wheelchair users. Except for the 
two-story cotton gin, all outside buildings have access ramps. Benches, chairs, and 
picnic tables serve as rest stops. A boardwalk winds through the nature trail. 

For visitors who may not require wheelchairs but could use some assistance get- 
ting around, the museum has a variety of options. It can lend them a motorized 
wheelchair or a motorized three-wheel scooter. Or staff members will load up the 
two golf carts and drive guests around. 

The museum offers something for everyone. Disabled or nondisabled, it's fun to 
watch sugarcane syrup being made and maybe get a taste of it when it is ready. For 
all the children, but perhaps especially for learning-impaired and visually impaired 
voungsters, the children's barnyard is an exciting place, with its donkey, ducks, geese, 
goats, sheep, and pigs; and when there is a staff member or docent around to assist, 
some of these animals are happy to be petted. 

When visually impaired youngsters go through the museum, "we let them touch 
some artifacts." says FitzGerald. "Things we don't let other people touch, we'll let 


Small Town recreates life in a ig2cs village. 

them reach over and feel the shape of it. They like to listen to the sounds of the mu- 
seum, too, and they get a lot out of the film we have. It's a fifteen-minute film that 
tells them what they are going to see when they tour, and all about the history of 
agriculture in this part of the country." 

Groups from the Mississippi State Hospital also come through the museum. 
"Some get more out of it than others," says FitzGerald, "but with just about every- 
one, something somewhere will awaken them and catch their interest." 

The museum is a natural attraction for older people. Its special focus, the period 
of the 1920s and 1930s, is the time when most older people were growing up. Most of 
them prefer to tour the museum at their leisure, without guides, reminiscing and 
sharing experiences with their friends and families. It is not unusual to see families 
that span four or even five generations touring the museum together. At the Forten- 
berry-Parkman Farm, where work is performed pretty much as it was sixty years 



ago, "you hear the same comment over and over," says Margie FitzGerald: '"Thank 
goodness, I'm not still on the farm." 

Staff members visit retirement homes, nursing homes, and senior citizen clubs to 
encourage residents to participate in activities at the museum. Sometimes they will 
take with them such artifacts as an old iron or a high-button shoe to stimulate their 
interest. Eight senior adults are active as docents, and "they make very good guides," 
says FitzGerald. 

Senior Citizens Day, an annual event, attracts tremendous crowds. Activities in- 
clude basket weaving, spinning, quilting, clogging, country music, gospel singing, 
blacksmith and grist-mill demonstrations, and square dancing. 

The museum receives about fifty percent of its $280,000 operating budget from 
the state, and it also receives some contributions from local industries (the golf carts 
and the motorized scooter and wheelchairs were gifts); but it must make up the dif- 
ference through special events. At least twelve major events are held every year, and 
they include some lively, crowd-pleasing activities: Scottish Heritage Day, with High- 
land dancing and a haggis-hurling competition; a Blue Grass Afternoon; the Crafts 

Visitors learn about farm animals. 



Tour; the County Fair; the Clown and Puppet Show; a Halloween Carnival and a 
Mule Festival. 

One of the most popular special events, however, makes no money for the mu- 
seum. There is no charge for the Very Special Arts Festival, an event that drew more 
than 7,000 disabled children in 1991. With 9,000 children expected to attend in 1992, 
the festival has been expanded to two days. This is a statewide festival coordinated 
by the Special Education Department of Mississippi State University at Starkville. 
The department head, Dr. Georgia Turnipseed, plans the special exhibits. For this 
special event, Dr. Turnipseed has assistance not only from her department's future 
teachers but also from a variety of groups from Jackson: Senior Scouts, ROTC mem- 
bers, and service clubs. Local college sorority and fraternity members assist in 
preparing exhibits and activities as well as stand bv to help make the tour enjoyable 
for the children. 

Unlike most museums, this one does not need a lot of docents. The exhibits do 
not require explanation. Most older individuals prefer to go through at their own 
pace. "They don't need someone telling them how it used to be," says Margie 
FitzGerald, "because they know." Groups from nearby institutions — hearing-im- 
paired, visually impaired, or learning-impaired people — nearly always have several 
counselors or teachers accompanying them. 

When a group does require a docent, though, one is available. Groups call in ad- 
vance to make reservations, and they can put in their request for a guide at that time. 
When large groups of children come through, the museum will know in advance and 
have a number of docents on hand. If a group or individual needs a sign-language 
interpreter, the nearby School for the Deaf provides one. 

A visit to the museum seems to be a happy experience for young and old. Margie 
FitzGerald tells a story that illustrates the point very well: "A group of children 
around eight years old had been visiting the farm and were getting ready to leave. 
'Come on, honey,' I said to one girl. 'We've got to hurry. They're going to leave you 
here.' "Oh,' she answered happily, 'I hope they do." 



<\ '< ■ v / 

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1 ••> 

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* . $■ 

The Oakland Museum 

Oakland, California 

nee a month two docents, Bea Heggie and 
Lolly Todd, lead a group of hearing-impaired and hearing visitors on a Total Com- 
munication Tour of the Oakland Museum's most recent exhibition. The term "to- 
tal communication ,, means that the guides speak and sign at the same time. 

That is unusual in itself, but what is more unusual is the fact that the two do- 
cents have been doing these tours — which involve hours of research and painstak- 
ing preparation — virtually without interruption since the mid-1970s. 

The Oakland Museum has an accessible building and a number of programs for 
disabled persons, but it is proudest of the work it does with hearing-impaired visi- 
tors. Of the several innovative programs in place for that population, none is quite 
as original as the Total Communication Tour. And none reveals quite so clearly how 
much difference a few dedicated docents can make in helping a museum reach a por- 
tion of the disabled population. 

The program began in 1973 when the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco started 
classes in sign language and sent a flyer to other Bay area museums inviting inter- 
ested docents to join them. A dozen Oakland Museum docents signed up, and others 
joined the classes in subsequent years. 

"Learning sign language is like studying any foreign language, and mastery does 
not come easily," says Education Coordinator Janet Hatano. The museum required 
that the docents reach a high level of proficiency before leading tours. "We had a 
committee of deaf people who did the final evaluation, to determine whether these 
people were fluent enough to give tours. Some were and some weren't. Our commit- 
tee was very candid." 

"Sign is very interesting in that it is much easier to do than to read," says Hatano. 

The fish pond features a lucite sculpture by Bruce Beasley. 


u Some docents thought they were doing it correctly, but it was difficult for the deaf 
people to understand them." 

Those who eventually became proficient in sign went on for more intensive train- 
ing at the California School for the Deaf and other schools in the area. And all of this 
training, at least in the beginning, was paid for by the docents themselves. 

A handful of docents survived this rigorous training and went on to give tours, 
but over the years most dropped out. "They moved away or took jobs," says Heg- 
gie. "I'm the only one left from the original group. Lolly came in a couple of years 
later with another big class, and they've all dwindled away. Now it's just down to the 
two of us." 

Two, however, is all it takes to make a difference. 

Heggie and Todd give tours of the special exhibits so that hearing-impaired per- 
sons have access to them as well as the permanent exhibits. Heggie has said that "the 
work takes a great deal of time, a great deal of commitment," a remark which un- 
derstates the case. Each month they go through the same discipline: "First we do a 
walk-through of the exhibition with the curator," says Heggie. 

"Then we do our research and write our scripts for the tour. We sign these for the 
teacher, Betty Ann Prinz, a deaf person who teaches in college. She looks at the work 
for signing, not content. Then the curator looks at the script for accuracy." And such 
perfectionists are they that, after all these years, they still feel better if they practice 
before giving the tour. 

The tour itself is not in American Sign Language (asl ) but in Signed Exact Eng- 
lish. As Janet Hatano explains, "You can't talk while you're signing ASL, because 
it's two different languages. In asl the grammar is different from English. So, there 
is another signed language called Signed Exact English. A number of deaf people 
grew up learning it. It uses a lot of asl signs, and Bea and Lolly incorporate those 
signs into their presentation." 

The Total Communication Tours fill a real niche in programming for hearing- 
impaired people. Because these tours involve both speaking and signing, they appeal 
to people who are becoming hearing-impaired and are learning sign language. "They 
want to communicate and want to learn the language; they want to join in and be 
part of a group," says Heggie. It's also the kind of tour that can be enjoyed by a hear- 
ing-impaired person and a hearing spouse. 

The two docents have developed a loyal following. "Most of these people never 
had any art education, and it's interesting to see how over the years they have be- 
come interested in art and museum exhibitions," says Heggie. "In fact, recently one 

Docent Bea Heggie leads a Total Communication Tour. 





The Gallery of California Art 

of the group didn't like the way we were explaining something, so he turned around 
and explained it himself. And I thought, 'Well, we've come a long way." 

The work Heggie and Todd do poses some questions: Why do some docents give 
so much time and energy? What gets them going? What keeps them going? "It's the 
challenge," Heggie says. "I had a deaf friend, so I was interested. And then the flyer 
came around announcing classes in sign, so there was the challenge. And I thought, 
'Well, why not?' So, I did." She stays because the work is "stimulating" and because 
"there is such good camaraderie with the group." 

Janet Hatano, who is in charge of training for the museum's 320 active docents, 
agrees. "People become docents because they want to learn something new, and they 
want to serve in some way. But the friendships and the special bonds that are formed 
keep them going." Hatano also believes that the more difficult and challenging a pro- 
gram is, the deeper the bonds are. 

Another program for hearing-impaired visitors was an outgrowth of a 1986 spe- 
cial exhibition of the work of Granville Redmond, a hearing-impaired landscape 
artist and graduate of the California School for the Deaf. "During the exhibition 
we did a lot of work with the California School for the Deaf and with local orga- 
nizations for the deaf, and we held a symposium and an all-day festival," says 



Hatano. "Because of that, interest in the hearing-impaired community grew; and 
three people, all hearing-impaired, expressed interest in participating in our do- 
cent program." 

Bringing them on board as docents, however, was not an easy matter, since all 
had to go through the standard year of docent training — and to do so, they needed 
professional sign interpreters during the training sessions. Eventually, the museum 
got funding from the California Arts Council to provide interpretation for them. All 
three — Stan and Marie Smith and Igor Kolombatovic — have graduated and now 
conduct tours in American Sign Language. "We have funding so that they can con- 
tinue their full participation in the docent program and attend advanced training 
sessions," says Hatano. "It's worked out very well. 

"It was terrific having them in the docent class," she says. "Sign language is a 
very expressive language, and I think the hearing docents really learned from them 
how to be more expressive and use gesture in interpreting a painting. I think they 
made real contributions to that class." 

During the three months of the Granville Redmond exhibit, the museum featured 
opportunities for hearing-impaired students to work with hearing-impaired artists 
as well as tour the exhibition. The program was so successful that a version of it has 
been added as a regular museum offering. 

At the exhibition, Igor Kolombatovic, a retired artist formerly with Chevron, 
helped the students understand a little more about art and work on their own art 
projects. "He's magic with children; he establishes rapport with them very quickly," 
says Hatano, "and of course he is a good role model as well. He would talk to them 
about what it was like to be an artist. 

"He showed them his own work, which is very different from Redmonds' work. 
Redmonds is a tonalist and is also influenced by the Impressionists. Igor's work is 
loud and exciting, so there was a real color contrast and subject-matter contrast as 
well. So the students were able to see a variety of work by deaf artists. Then they did 
a painting, usually a landscape, of their own. 

"Now we offer this program regularly, but it is not connected to special exhibi- 
tions. At least twice a year we will bring back Igor to work with deaf students. When 
he does that, he is not a volunteer docent but a paid museum teacher. Then we also 
work with some other deaf artists in the area in that same format. 

"We will probably never do all the things we'd like to do," says Hatano, "but over 
the years, we feel we have strengthened and expanded our programs for deaf visi- 
tors. By continuing to involve deaf people in planning, implementing, and evaluat- 
ing our programs, we hope to continually improve them." 

8 9 

Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library 


chieving true accessibility, especially 
in a historic setting, is likely to be especially difficult and may result in small victo- 
ries. No place better illustrates the difficulties of achieving accessibility — even with 
the right philosophy and the right person in place — than the Winterthur Museum, 
Garden, and Library, located near Wilmington, Delaware. 

Winterthur, the country estate of three generations of DuPonts, is located in the 
midst of 900 acres of rolling woodlands, meadows, and streams in the Brandywine 
Valley. The original twelve-room house, designed in the Greek Revival style, was 
built in 1839, but changes and additions have engulfed most of the original struc- 
ture, though portions of the original interior architecture may still be seen. 

Henry Francis DuPont, who was born in Winterthur in 1880 and always loved 
the place, transformed it during his lifetime from a private estate to a public mu- 
seum. A lover of horticulture, he also oversaw the extensive landscaping, which com- 
bines natural landscapes with a garden of spectacular beauty. 

In 1931 he added an extensive wing to the house to display his collections of Amer- 
ican antiquities and decorative arts. To create appropriate period settings for his fur- 
niture and accessories, he purchased interior architectural elements from buildings 
along the Eastern seaboard. The 89,000 objects, representing the very best in Amer- 
ican craftsmanship, are displayed in 196 room settings, which reflect life in early 
America from 1640 to i860. The museum and garden have been open to the public 
since 1951. 

The challenges (associate curator of education Valerie Coons does not speak of 

"problems," only of "challenges ) to making all of this accessible are tremendous: 

Miles of paths wander through the woods and garden, often up steep hills. Virtually 

A visitor on a "touch tour''' handles a silver tankard made by Paul Revere. 



I * 



everything is historic: the interior architecture, the furnishings; even such outdoor 
settings as the reflecting pool have architectural and historical significance. 

A visit there may be, at first, discouraging to one looking primarily for accessi- 
bility. A wheelchair user who is dropped at the entrance to the visitors' pavilion must 
travel about twenty yards to find a curb cut. In the cafeteria and shops, high coun- 
ters and narrow aisles can create difficulties for wheelchair users. Yet, the shuttle bus 
that runs every ten minutes from the visitors' pavilion to the museum is equipped to 
take a wheelchair. There is accessible parking near the museum. However, the trails 
through the garden are sometimes steep, including the trail designated as a wheel- 
chair-accessible route. In the museum, some steps are too steep to be ramped, and 
almost everywhere the light levels are kept low to protect sensitive objects. 

And yet, one gets a sense that changes are taking place at Winterthur. As recently 
as the early 1980s the museum still thought of disabled persons as separate, sched- 
uling both "blind tours" and "wheelchair tours." Valerie Coons, who was a full-time 
staff member who spent "about seventy-five percent" of her time on accessibility is- 
sues, articulates a new approach: "Our accessibility philosophy is based on integrated 
programming. In other words, we avoid 'special' or separate programs for people 
with disabilities and do our best to enable disabled and nondisabled visitors to par- 
ticipate equally in the same programs." 

Integrated programming is a major goal — perhaps the key goal for true accessi- 
bility. It has largely been accomplished at Winterthur. There are still rough spots with 
room for refinements, but the direction is clear. To take a close look at what is hap- 
pening at Winterthur is to appreciate how far resourcefulness can go in meeting the 
challenges inherent in making historic homes accessible. 

Visitors who use wheelchairs now have access to about ninety percent of the 
rooms. As to the nineteen or so rooms that they may miss, in many cases they can 
see similar items in accessible rooms; for the exceptions, photographs are often 

The tours may involve minor inconvenience. In some rooms, space is so tight that 
the wheelchair user must back out the same way she came in. Routing can be cir- 
cuitous. When a tour with a wheelchair user goes to a different floor, the whole group 
backtracks to an elevator — the museum has four, and three accommodate wheel- 
chairs. Considering the collection that may be viewed, however, the inconvenience 
is undoubtedly worth the trouble. 

To compensate for the low lighting, which can be especially bothersome for vi- 
sually impaired visitors, some rooms contain high-contrast black-and-white pho- 

Winterthur's original Creek- Revival style building. 




Winterthur is located on gcc acres in the Brandywine Valley. 

tographs. These photographs help clarify objects that cannot be seen clearly. The 
museum guides are also helpful. "They are trained," says Valerie Coons, "to give an 
overview of a room, to orient a visually impaired person to let him know where he 
is within the setting, to go from the larger picture to the details, selecting words that 
are concrete and relating descriptions to things that are familiar in size and in a per- 
son's daily life." 

A large-print booklet on Winterthur 's popular Two Centuries Tour is free. It can 
enhance the tour for visually impaired persons and, in fact, it is helpful for anyone 
who browses through it in advance. 

On touch tours those who are blind or visually impaired may handle selected mu- 
seum artifacts with supervision by the trained staff. The objects are selected for their 
lactile interest, historical or aesthetic significance, and educational value. Touchable 
objects include a Philadelphia Chippendale high chest, a silver tankard made by Paul 



Revere, and a Chinese porcelain soup tureen in the shape of a duck. In addition, the 
Touch-It Room, used regularly for school and family programs, offers interesting 
tactile objects, such as a pewter spoon and its spoon mold and table legs turned with 
the spools and knobs common in the early eighteenth century. 

Hearing-impaired visitors who make advance requests may have a certified sign- 
language interpreter accompany them on house or garden tours. The museum guide 
then presents the "regular*" tour to a group that includes both hearing and hearing- 
impaired visitors. (The interpreter is hired especially for the occasion, and funding 
comes from the education division's $5,000 budget for such accessibility costs.) 

Guides receive special training to work with sign-language interpreters. "It's 
mostly a matter of giving them guidelines about such matters as where to position 
themselves in relation to the interpreter and the hearing-impaired guest," says Coons. 
"Guides also must know how to pace themselves; they must allow the visitor time to 
look because a person who is watching a sign-language interpreter hasn't had time 
to see the objects in the room." 

For a visitor with a learning or mental disability, the museum guide again adapts 
the tour according to the visitor's needs as she has been trained to do. 

The guides, in fact, are one of the reasons that accessibility works at Winterthur. 
There are about ninety paid, part-time guides, and they have been thoroughly 
trained, not just in American decorative arts but in accessibility issues. Coons, who 
does accessibility training, says, "When we hire a new class of museum guides, their 
initial two -week training program has an accessibility component. This includes a 
general workshop where we discuss the philosophy behind integrated programming 
and try to increase general awareness of accessibility issues. We follow this with a 
walk-through of the tour for which they are training, where we get down to more 
practical matters — how to adjust for the lower light levels, how to develop verbal 
descriptive skills for visually impaired persons, how to work with a sign-language 
interpreter, how to adapt the tour content for visitors with cognitive disabilities — 
the real nitty-gritty. 

"After several months, the guides will be trained for another tour, and again, 
there is an accessibility component to the training. We build on the general infor- 
mation they already have and apply it to the particular tour situation. It's not like 
having a training program every two months — it's not that regular — but it is con- 


The guides also have access to excellent materials on disabilities and ways to as- 
sist disabled persons. Coons has gathered some of the best articles in the field and 
placed them in a three-ring binder as part of a continuing self-education program 
that guides are expected to participate in. 



Although most of the paths through the gardens are paved and wide, visitors in 
wheelchairs might find some of them too steep to tackle independently. Tram tours 
through the gardens, however, are available from April through October, and one 
tram is equipped with a ramp and can accommodate two visitors in wheelchairs. 
Garden guides are also prepared to provide detailed verbal descriptions for visitors 
who are blind or visually impaired. 

To help her "chip away" at the challenges that Winterthur still poses, Coons gath- 
ered together an advisory committee of ten people, seven of whom have disabilities. 
The committee helps put the museum in touch with groups of disabled persons. One 
advisor, for example, has been instrumental in getting members of the Delaware As- 
sociation for the Blind to visit Winterthur. Another has helped open up opportuni- 
ties to publish articles in a local newspaper that is geared toward access. Coons also 
feels that the advisory group strengthens her position: "Fm sure this is true at most 
institutions — recommendations from expert outsiders sometimes carry more weight 
than the same recommendations from staff. So, I feel I have a little more leverage 
when I have an advisory group behind me." 

Winterthur recently completed construction of a new building with galleries for 
permanent and changing exhibitions that opened to the public in 1992. Coons was 
particularly pleased with the opportunity this gave her to "get in on the ground floor" 
and make accessibility a routine part of planning. 

She has had some victories: there will be enough floor space around displays to 
accommodate wheelchair users, exhibits will be mounted so that they are visible from 
wheelchairs, and the exhibit will include tactile components. On her advisory com- 
mittee is an architectural accessibility specialist who helps her red-flag items that do 
not meet accessibility codes. But there are some disappointments, too. "I'd love to 
have the feeling that among my co-workers there is 100 percent support for accessi- 
bility in practice as well as in theory," she says, "but that's a little unrealistic. It 
doesn't always click that the issue is looking at the audience as a whole and think- 
ing of accessibility in integrated terms. But then," she acknowledges, "changing at- 
titudes is a long-term process." 

It is a process, though, that seems well underway at Winterthur. 

Winterthur was home to three generations of DuPonts. 





The Metropolitan Museum of Art 

New York, New York 

f museums had epithets in the manner of 
medieval kings, the Metropolitan Museum of Art's might be The Great. Unsurpassed 
in the excellence and scope of its collection, the scale of its building, or the size of its 
operating budget ($76 million), this most famous of American museums tradition- 
ally does things on a grand scale. 

Certainly this is true of its services for disabled visitors. An extensive program 
covers everything — touch tours for visually impaired persons, tours with sign-lan- 
guage interpreters for hearing-impaired visitors, auditoriums equipped with infrared 
sound-enhancement systems, scripts of recorded tours for special exhibitions, guided 
tours for special education classes, workshops for special education teachers, large- 
print brochures. The list continues. 

Instead of a superficial look at everything, however, this chapter focuses on two 
first-rate ideas implemented by the museum. Both are unique, and both could eas- 
ily be replicated and adapted to fit the needs of smaller museums. The first is a small- 
scale program that was created for an underserved audience — families with devel- 
opmentally disabled members. The second is an in-house accessibility committee 
that is structured so that it can identify problems and solve them with a minimum 
of delay and red tape. 

"Discoveries," is the aptly named program that provides developmentally dis- 
abled persons a point of entry into the world of art. Given on Sundays throughout 
the school year, the two-hour workshops are built around such themes as "Tombs, 
Temples, and Treasures," and "Arms and Armor." Another program, "Make Your- 
self at Home" provides an inside look at lifestyles of long ago through exploration of 
period rooms. 

For special exhibitions, the Met evaluates the needs of disabled visitors. 


Parents learn about these workshops through yearly brochures that the museum 
produces and through the networking that occurs among parents of handicapped 

From three to five families are scheduled for each workshop, which includes a 
guided gallery tour, a refreshment break, and an art activity related to the theme. 
Upon arrival at the museum, the families are greeted, taken to a classroom, and given 
a brief introduction to the theme. The families are then divided into groups and given 
the gallery portion of the program either by the program coordinator, a program as- 
sistant, or a volunteer. 

These are not your standard guided tours, where guides offer information about 
art objects. The guides try to get the children to talk by asking them questions about 
what they see. "We show a picture and ask them what they think it is," says Clau- 
dia Hanlon, the museum's former coordinator for Disabled Visitor Services. "Maybe 
we will talk about the shapes or colors — anything that will make them feel they can 
answer correctly or will get them to look more closely at the object." 

Even with nonverbal children, the point is to get them involved: The guide may 
show pictures and ask the children to look for something similar in a painting, or 
she may get them to make associations: "What else is red? What else is round?" 
"Sometimes they just nod or point," says program assistant Deborah Jaffe, "but you 
know you've been understood, and they definitely do respond to art." 

Jaffe says that tours of the period rooms work especially well because "the chil- 
dren actually enter them — it's not like looking at paintings on a wall. And it's some- 
thing they can identify with because they have rooms, they have beds; they can com- 
pare what they see to their rooms, their beds. It's something that is familiar to a lot 
of people." 

"We have some pretty amazing things here," says Hanlon, "and sometimes you 
can see their eyes get wider and their expressions change, and they say, 'Wow! This 
could be a room from a king's palace!' You can see that it has an impact on them." 

The program also has an impact on the families. "A lot of these families would 
never think of coming to the museum with a kid with a severe developmental dis- 
ability because they feel that everybody would be looking at them," says Hanlon. 
"But because of this program, they know the other families are the same, and they 
feel much more relaxed about it. Sometimes they just need to know that they can 
handle the experience." 

Sometimes families discover that the museum can be an educational and recre- 
ational resource for them. "I never knew I could come here before," said one boy 

Tours for families with disabled children include art activities. 


I0 3 


who uses a wheelchair after his first workshop. Neither he nor his family knew the 
museum was wheelchair-accessible. 

""Often we get families who have never been here before," says Jaffe. "To get to 
the American wing, we have to walk through the Greek and Roman sculpture, and 
they are just wowed as we go through. I often say, 'There is a lot of art in this mu- 
seum and we aren't going to stop and talk about all of it, but you can come back 
any time you want to.' At the end we give them family passes so that they can come 
back free." 

To encourage families to continue to the museum on their own, a brochure/poster, 
"Five Great Ways to Explore The Metropolitan Museum of Art," describes self-guided 
tours built around such themes as animals, rooms, patterns, and seasons. 

Back in the classroom where the children work on their art projects, "there is a 
lot of interaction among the kids and among their parents," says Hanlon. "On a 
number of occasions the parents have hooked up with each other and have helped 
each other with such matters as finding programs for their kids. That's a real bonus 
for the families — they get to meet people who are going through the same thing they 
are going through." 

To work well, the program needs several staff people or trained docents for each 
workshop. For docents, Hanlon looks for "people who have a good attitude about 
working with disabled individuals. We like them to have some kind of experience, 
but even if they don't, as long as they feel positive about people with disabilities and 
don't view them as inferior — that's what we're looking for." 

The training consists of talks from specialists on disabilities, some good video 
tapes, and "a lot of practice in the galleries trying different approaches," says Han- 
lon. "There's no magical formula for teaching developmentally disabled children. A 
lot of it is just being responsive to the audience, getting a sense of what the interest 
level is, what the ability is, and then just focusing on the ability. I think that's the 
bottom line in all the training that we do. It's good to know what the disability of a 
person is, but then you really need to focus on the ability." 

The program began in 1985 with some pilot workshops. In 1987 it received fund- 
ing from the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Dis- 
abilities. It has also been supported by such private foundations as the Stella and 
Charles Guttman Foundation, Philip Morris Companies, Inc., and the Gannett Cor- 
poration. The cost of the fifty workshops in 1987 was $37,360, which included salaries 
for a part-time program coordinator and two part-time program assistants, as well 
as administrative expenses, publications, art supplies, and refreshments. Support 

A "Discoveries" program assistant helps a disabled visitor make a musical instrument. 


from the museum and the foundations is steady, but the state has cut back its fund- 
ing and the number of workshops has been reduced to twenty-four a year. 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art's idea of using a committee to improve acces- 
sibility is not new. Many other museums use advisory committees composed primarily 
of representatives from organizations for disabled persons. These committees eval- 
uate accessibility and offer suggestions for improvement — a system that has worked 
well at such places as the Winterthur Museum, and the Aquarium of the Americas 
(see these chapters in this book). The Metropolitan Museum's committee differs in 
that it is composed of highly placed staff members and is designed for swift, coor- 
dinated action on accessibility matters. 

The membership of the committee accounts in part for its effectiveness. "It's 
broadly representative," says its chair, Linden Wise, who is also the museum's sec- 
retary and counsel. "We have someone who is knowledgeable and can take action in 
all the areas that come into play when one is offering accessibility. We have some- 
one in the operations and building area, who focuses on issues of architecture- the 
coordinator for disabled visitor services; a designer, who gets into such issues as the 
legibility of labels; a representative of the development office, who helps us raise 
funds for programs geared toward disabled visitors; the manager of public informa- 
tion, because getting out information is so important; a curator; and the head of the 
education department; and the head of human resources. The intent is to bring all 
the museum's resources to bear on accessibility." 

The great advantage of such a committee is that it can anticipate problems and 
deal with them. "It's a natural trouble-shooter," says Wise. "It brings together all of 
these people into one room so that we don't have to attenuate the decision-making 
process by sending memos around and waiting for responses and having a chain of 
phone calls. They're all right there, and they are senior enough in their areas so that 
they generally can make decisions on their own." 

When a special exhibition is scheduled, the committee makes sure the needs of 
disabled visitors are met. "We go over every component of the exhibit," says Wise 
"from Acoustiguides, which, of course, can't be heard by deaf visitors so we make 
sure there is a script that they can read, to publicity, to the route that wheelchair- 
bound visitors will take, to concerns about the traffic of large crowds, to being sure 
the labels are big enough that they can be seen and that the educational material in- 
cludes large-type versions." 

The committee has also initiated a project with support from the National 
Endowment for the Arts that will make a major contribution to the museum field — 
a manual of standards for the production and installation of labels in museums. 
"Labels are critically important," says Wise. "They are the museum's way of com- 


106 of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

municating information about works of art to its visitors. This manual will provide 
standards that labels should adhere to with respect to typeface, type size, color con- 
trast between type and background, lighting, manner of installation, and the ma- 
terial of which the label is made. The aim is to maximize legibility to all visitors, 
but particularly those with impaired vision, not only the partially sighted, but older 
persons. It will guide us in our labelling here at the Met, and we will share it with 
the museum community. 

"That's the kind of thing the committee does best. The idea and the commitment 
were there, but the committee took hold of it and pushed it forward." 


Museum of Fine Arts 

Boston, Massachusetts 

hen Jeanne Neal heard her friends making 
plans to attend the Monet exhibition at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, she didn't 
find it unusual that they never suggested she come along. In fact, Jeanne, who works 
just down the street from the museum at the National Braille Press, would have 
found it strange if she had been asked, since she has been blind for more than thirty 
years. However, when she learned that the museum was offering a special intro- 
duction and tour for visitors who were blind or visually impaired, she decided to 
give it a try. 

At the presentation a horticulturist passed around examples of plants as he talked 
about Monet's gardens and the countryside the artist loved to paint. Next, a physi- 
cian discussed Monet's changing vision and eventual blindness and the impact this 
had on him as an artist. A large-type brochure was made available to those who 
wanted it. Finally, Jeanne and the rest of the group went through the exhibit while 
listening to a taped narration on cassette. 

Jeanne's reaction to the evening is best summed up in a letter she sent to Eleanor 
Rubin, the museum's coordinator of special services: 

'"Fascinating' is too mild a word! . . . those talks we had before going to the gal- 
leries truly made Monet and his paintings come alive for me. By the time I was walk- 
ing about with that excellent cassette, I felt as though I could actually know and ex- 
perience each work. These last few days I've been on a sort of 'high,' and everyone 
who meets me — in the store, on the commuter bus, or in the subway — is entertained 
by my glowing accounts of the swaying, vibrant flowers and the shivering cathedral 
and mists over the water as portrayed by Monet. I just can't think that my sighted 
friends got any more from this show than I did — strange as that may sound. . . . I'm 

The museum's outreach program has been highly successful. 




looking forward to getting back to the museum before too many more moons pass ! " 

This program on Monet illustrates the museum's principle that art is for every- 
one, regardless of age or disability. Putting this principle into practice isn't easy, nor 
as Rubin acknowledges, can it be done alone. Eleanor Rubin credits a great deal of 
the museum's success in its outreach efforts to the Special Needs Advisory Board, a 
twenty-member panel she began to organize almost immediately after assuming her 
post in 1978. 

"My experience had taught me that what I needed to do was hear from the peo- 
ple who would be using the services and work with them to improve things," she 
says, noting that the board includes "a real mixture of those who are themselves dis- 
abled and those who are part of a community of service to people who are disabled," 
such as parents, teachers, and workers from various Boston-area institutions serv- 
ing special-needs audiences. The assistance they provide has ranged from technical 
advice on choosing an assistive listening device for the museum's auditorium to par- 
ticipation in staff training. 

This sort of input from the perspective of the audience being served plays a vi- 
tal role in guiding her office's decisions, says Rubin. In fact, she sees the museum's 
accessible programming as a response to one of the disabled board members, Joan 
LeBrun, who said to her, "Human beings are very complex creatures. We have the 
ability to dream, to remember, to create, to love, and to comfort. But we, the dis- 
abled, are constantly having to prove that we are not one-dimensional. Therefore, 
we need to have access to institutions such as the museum so that we can share the 
stimulation offered there." 

Physical features that allow this access include a barrier-free public entrance and 
galleries, a telephone device for deaf visitors, wheelchairs and wheelchair ramps, 
wheelchair-accessible restrooms and cafeteria, and accessible parking. In addition 
to these things, the museum uses large-type labels and brochures with good contrast, 
taped tours, and an assistive listening system previously described. All of these items 
have helped the museum win a special citation in the Best of Accessible Boston 

While these features provide crucial access to audiences who may have once been 
overlooked, Rubin and her staff try to go beyond simple access by actively involv- 
ing disabled visitors in the collections through four main programs. 

The first of these programs, Meeting Museum Masterpieces, involves outreach to 
people in nursing homes and senior centers by trained volunteers who are themselves 
older adults. After the volunteers present their overview of the museum's collections 
through a forty-minute slide show, the groups may schedule a follow-up visit to the 
museum so they can see these paintings. 



The program began in 1979 as a result of a grant from the state Office of Elder 
Affairs to train twenty-one volunteers. Rubin recruited the volunteers from places 
where seniors gathered, such as public libraries. Naturally, the volunteers were not 
art experts, but that was not what Rubin was after. "I was very dedicated to the no- 
tion that the program could be for anyone who was interested in the arts and in learn- 
ing about a museum at this point in their lives. It didn't have to be someone who had 
in-depth knowledge of art," she says. Eventually she gathered together a group of 
volunteers — mostly former teachers, professionals, and housewives in their seven- 
ties and eighties — who met about twice a month to learn about the collection and 
about such matters as using slide projectors, speaking to groups, and making suc- 
cessful presentations before being sent off in groups of two or three to facilities for 
seniors in the area. "Our goal was that they would be ambassadors or liaisons to 
older adults," teaching them something about art, but "also letting them know that 
the museum is comfortable, and has wheelchairs and places to sit down — that kind 
of thing," says Rubin. 

The program proved to be a great success, both for the audiences and the vol- 
unteers. In fact, Rubin notes, "Of that original group of twenty-one, I'd say about 
fifteen to eighteen stayed on until they died." Many volunteers now come from the 
ranks of the museum's older docents. They find this program provides a way for them 
to continue serving the museum while being a less strenuous activity which lightens 
their responsibilities as they become older. 

The Meeting Museum Masterpieces program has recently expanded into inter- 
generational activities. In 1990 it teamed up with the Stride-Rite Day Care Center, 
a facility that serves both older adults in need of some supervision and young chil- 
dren. "It's one of the most exciting things we have going," says Rubin. "Everyone 
benefits enormously." 

Artful Adventures, the second program, is designed for children, including those 
who have hearing impairments or learning disabilities or are from hospital schools. 
The program encourages special-needs groups to explore cultural diversity through 
art activities involving the museum's collections from the Americas, Europe, Asia, 
and ancient Africa. 

Museum staff members adapt each presentation to the needs of the particular 
audience. The staff uses posters, slides, and artists' materials to introduce the chil- 
dren to the variety of art they will see in the museum. The children enter into the 
cultures portrayed. They may enact scenes from paintings, comparing paintings in 
the Asian collection with similar ones in the European collection. They might use 
both Western and Asian art tools, or imagine themselves in a landscape painting and 
draw their own postcards to send home. 


I 12 

Susan Duncan, assistant coordinator of special services, says this type of in- 
volvement with art not only stimulates the children but also fills an educational void. 
""It's very important, particularly in these days when children don't get much hands- 
on art experience in their schools,'' she says. ""It's one of the first things that get cut 
in the educational system, so for many of the kids it's one of the rare occasions when 
they really get to do something with art." 

Another program, People and Places, introduces adults with learning and devel- 
opmental disabilities to the galleries. By allowing participants to respond to paint- 
ings through such activities as sketching, storytelling, and movement, the museum 
staff hopes the participants will develop new or more focused skills of perceiving, 
exploring, reacting, and relating to what they see. 

Finally, A Feeling for Form program offers visually impaired children and adults 
a tactile introduction to selected sculpture, furniture, and other artifacts in the mu- 
seum's collections. According to Duncan, the staff often arranges these tours around 
a particular theme so the visitors may orient themselves more easily. For example, 
tours may focus on animals. "We have a number of animals that we have curatorial 
permission to touch in a variety of collections, so we can give a guided visit that has 
some coherency to begin with,'' Duncan says. u We can visit the Asian gallery and 
touch Asian lions, and then visit the classical galleries and touch a lion that is very 
different." Adult groups are sometimes invited to hold and investigate ancient ob- 
jects from study collections and small-scale reproductions of monumental sculpture. 
Like the Artful Adventures tours, Feeling for Form visits for children end with hands- 
on activity such as sculpting animals, so that visitors have something to take home 
with them. 

While Rubin and Duncan coordinate these four programs, they rely heavily on 
the approximately forty volunteers who make the programs work. Training for the 
volunteers, says Rubin, takes a variety of forms. For example, on-going training for 
the Feeling for Form group u has become a monthly noon-time event. Sometimes it's 
just talking among ourselves about groups that have come, and what worked well, 
and what didn't, and what could have been done better." On other occasions, spe- 
cialists from such institutions as the Commission for the Blind visit to offer more for- 
mal guidance and to discuss such matters as "how to help a blind or visually im- 
paired person get oriented to a sculpture, or how to describe things in terms of what 
somebody already knows," says Rubin. "For example, referring to a sarcophagus as 
"large as a bathtub' helps the person get an overall sense of it, because touching it in 
one spot doesn't give you a sense of the size or the shape. 

The Evans Wing of the Paintings Galleries. 



"Some other useful things include never addressing the person's companion 
rather than the person — for example, not saying, 'What would she like to do today?' 
Also, it's important to tell a visually impaired visitor if you have to leave their side 
for a moment, because otherwise they might start talking to you and you wouldn't 
be there. That can be very embarrassing." 

While these points all involve sensitivity to visually impaired visitors, Rubin em- 
phasizes in her training that volunteers can take sensitivity too far: "It's important 
not to be too guarded or self-conscious," she says. "Guides should speak as they nor- 
mally would and should not try to avoid saying things like, 'Over here you. can see 
. . . ' Trying to erase every reference to vision from your vocabulary is just going to 
make everybody feel awkward." 

To enhance the training sessions, Rubin often brings in people who are disabled. 
"Even though I know a lot of this, it isn't the same as the volunteers hearing it from 
someone who is visually impaired, and being able to ask questions, and getting com- 
fortable with that." 

Rubin tries to incorporate the perspective of disabled persons in other museum 
events as well. For example, as part of a 1990 exhibit on New American Furniture, 
woodworker and furniture -maker Michael Pierschalla, who lost his hearing as a 
teenager but regained it through a cochlear implant, gave a tactile demonstration 
and tour of the exhibit for visitors with visual or hearing impairments. Rubin cred- 
its much of the success of the presentation to Pierschalla's personal experience with 
a disability. "Michael had lost his hearing just before college. ... It was a very painful 
thing, and having gone through it himself, he has a tremendous amount of empathy 
for other young people who are feeling different or feeling a sense of loss," she says. 
Pierschalla remains connected to the museum as a member of Special Needs Advi- 
sory Board, Rubin explains. 

Despite the successes, Rubin points out that obstacles still remain in the path of 
programming for disabled museum visitors. Most of these obstacles involve tight re- 
sources. For instance, while the museum wants to involve as many deaf visitors as 
possible, the cost of hiring qualified sign-language interpreters puts a strain on its 
budget. "I think it would be unfair to give a portrait of serving audiences who are 
hearing-impaired without acknowledging that the more success you have, the more 
expense you have. There needs to be some sort of inventive collaboration," she re- 
marks. While she is pleased with recent laws that have given museums an added 
obligation to serve disabled visitors, she remarked, "I'm also very worried about how 
to sustain the services and not promise more than we can give." 

Budgetary problems also affect efforts to integrate disabled persons into museum 
staffs, Rubin acknowledges. As a case in point, she cites recent difficulties her office 


"A Feeling for Form" encourages hands-on activity for visually impaired people. 

experienced in hiring sign-language interpreters and finding staff time to train a one- 
year intern who was deaf. "It's not simple to integrate someone who is disabled into 
the staff. It takes a lot of time and attention," she says. "I think it is extremely im- 
portant that it begin to happen more and more, but it does take time and resources 
and a real commitment to do it. So, I think that while we are making laws and all 
that, we also really have to insist on funding and assistance for people who are mak- 
ing a serious effort to integrate persons with disabilities into their staffs." 

The difficulties, though, apparently don't outweigh the satisfaction of working 
on special-needs programming. Citing the museum's emphasis on tactile contact with 
art, Rubin says that "somebody who is visually impaired can touch an object in one 
of the collections and get something that you can't quite measure but it is different 
from — and probably better than — any other experience he can have with that ob- 
ject, better than reading about it or having someone tell him about it." Similarly, she 
says, "visitors with emotional difficulties find something that is nourishing some part 
of their experience that may be at the very heart of how they relate to other people." 
The general public benefits as well, Rubin says, by seeing that "there's more than 
one way to learn something and that art is for everyone." 



Old Sturbridge Village 

Sturbridge, Massachusetts 

Id Sturbridge Village is an outdoor living 
history museum whose purpose is a to provide modern Americans with a deepened 
understanding of their own times through a personal encounter with the New Eng- 
land past." Through its collections, publications, and programs, Old Sturbridge 
Village presents the story of everyday life in a rural New England town during the 
years from 1790 to 1840. To present the story more vividly, it uses trained, cos- 
tumed interpreters, historical farming techniques, and demonstrations of trades 
and crafts. 

The village encompasses more than 200 acres. In the center is the village com- 
mon. Houses, shops, stores, offices, and meetinghouses are clustered around it. In 
the outlying areas are the farms, shops, and mills vital to life in a rural New Eng- 
land town. These structures include a gristmill, sawmill, carding mill, blacksmith 
shop, cooper shop, printing shop. While some of the buildings are reconstructions, 
some are restored buildings brought from various sections of New England. 

The problems of making the village accessible are many and complex. Accessi- 
bility at Old Sturbridge Village is a vast undertaking — very much like making a 
small town accessible, only harder, because it is historic; changes cannot be made 
that would impair its historic authenticity. 

Because of the complexity of the challenge, Old Sturbridge Village has had to 
make a commitment to accessibility, and make it a matter of ongoing concern at 
every level. In 1986 the village established an advisory council, comprised of com- 
munity leaders with disabilities, advocates for individuals with disabilities, and mu- 
seum staff members. Their objective is to plan ways to improve access. At the same 
time Eric White was hired to be coordinator for access, an executive vice president, 

Visitors tour the Parsonage Garden. 


Alberta Sebolt George, was appointed to supervise the accessibility effort. 

A remarkable document came out of this process. Based largely on White's evalu- 
ation of accessibility needs, "Old Sturbridge Village Access Transition Plan''' details 
how Old Sturbridge could achieve accessibility within a designated time. This thirty- 
one page plan is worth examining to see why it works when similar plans often do not. 

The plan lists goals with various time frames: short term, intermediate, and long 
term — roughly one, three, and five years. Each goal is specific and a staff member 
or members are designated to carry out the goal within the designated time. 

One short-term goal, for example, is "to strengthen communication methods with 
visitors who are deaf." Three tasks are listed to help achieve this goal: "(a) continue 
to offer sign language interpretation on regularly scheduled dates throughout the 
year; (b) offer sign language classes to interested museum staff; and (c) increase pub- 
licity on sign language programs." 

The plan lists the more difficult intermediate and long-term goals ("improve and 
stabilize village roads to facilitate visitor navigation"), and to break these goals down 
into doable segments ("experiment with stone aggregates to improve road surface"), 
and to name the person or persons responsible for getting them done. No project is 
too large ("strengthen physical and communication accessibility in the formal ex- 
hibits and galleries"), and none too small ("increase print size on the large entrance 
map.") Everything that could possibly improve accessibility seems to be included. 
The long-range goals emphasize maintenance schedules so that gains are not lost. 

The plan works. "We are through the short-term goals and about midway 
through the intermediate-term ones," says White. During the first phase of the plan, 
Old Sturbridge Village has strengthened staff training, improved the roads, made 
new contacts with groups representing disabled persons, improved orientation ma- 
terials, improved physical access to exhibits and public buildings, expanded sensory 
experiences within exhibits, improved access to the formal exhibits and galleries — 
and more. 

In only one of the short-term goals, "to strengthen employment opportunities for 
persons with a disability," no recent progress has occurred. "It's economics," says 
White. "Going through this recessionary period, we just have not been hiring lately." 
He adds that "a large number of staff members do have a variety of disabilities, so 
we have a strong base in the past. It is just that we haven't been able to move as 
quickly as we would like on this issue." 

This plan is an effective tool for steady progress on accessibility and not just a list 
of good intentions for several reasons. Strong support and commitment at the top are 

The common at the center of Old Sturbridge Village. 



II 9 

essential. Having a coordinator for access is also key to making the process work. 

What is unusual about the plan, however, is that it involves so many staff mem- 
bers in various projects and thus emphasizes that accessibility is everyone's concern. 
Finally, because the writing is clear and precise, nothing is taken for granted. Each 
task is specified along with the name of the person responsible for performing this 
task by the given completion date. All this attention to accessibility emphasizes its 
importance as part of the ongoing programs, not something to be taken up when 
other work slacks off. 

Having a detailed plan, however, has not meant that work on accessibility is set 
in concrete. Over the past few years a philosophical change has occurred in the vil- 
lage's general approach to accessibility. Early on, Old Sturbridge Village was justly 
recognized as having developed some first-rate programs for special audiences, and 
it still offers some of them. Now, however, the trend is to move away from special 
programs for special-needs audiences. 

"We began to realize not only that we were separating disabled people but we 
were not providing the same opportunities for all our visitors," says White. "Typi- 
cally, what s good for people with disabilities tends to be good for everyone. So we 
decided that the best thing to do was work on providing the best program for every- 
one, rather than developing special programs. We still do pilot programs for special 
audiences, but the aim is to learn how to do something better so that we can incor- 
porate it into our overall program." 

The change has been incorporated into training. Old Sturbridge Village is fortu- 
nate in having a cadre of guides who have been with the museum for quite a while 
and already know how to help disabled visitors enjoy their visits to the museum. 
('One good thing that comes out of a recession," says Eric White, now director of 
interpretation at the village, "you end up getting a fairly stable staff.") 

""When we worked with outside groups . . . members of our advisory commission 
held panel discussions or training sessions on sensitivity awareness," says White. "Right 
now, though, we are on a slightly different path. We are focusing on basic communi- 
cation techniques, with the idea that good interpretation is one of the keys to accessi- 
bility. In other words, what's good for disabled folks tends to be good for everybody." 

Today, a guide in a typical training session would probably not be asked how 
to conduct a tactile tour or a tour for hearing-impaired visitors. Instead, she might 
be asked, 'How do you interpret for a group including a fourteen-year-old boy, 
an adult with a hearing impairment, and a university professor?" After role-play- 
ing a successful approach, the guide might be challenged with a new twist: "All 
right, suppose the university professor has the hearing impairment. How do you 
interpret for that group?" 


Despite the trend toward programs designed to accommodate everyone, at least 
one of Old Sturbridge Village's programs for disabled individuals merits a closer look 
because it has been so successful. The program, which runs every Tuesday for ten 
weeks, is offered twice a year to small groups of fifth- and sixth-grade children with 
disabilities, usually learning disabilities. At the outset each child is paired with a his- 
toric interpreter. "It's a mentor system, " says White, "and a strong bond usually de- 
velops between the interpreter and the student. 1 ' For the first four visits the students 
learn about village life — how families lived, how work was done, and what com- 
munity life was like. 

Then, each student performs a brief apprenticeship to become familiar with one 
of the trades or crafts that are demonstrated in the village — cooking over an open 
hearth, spinning and weaving, printing, working in the tin shop or blacksmith shop, 
or working in the houses, where sewing or cooking is done. Often, they will make 
something they can take home: "If they work at the blacksmith's shop, they will make 
iron trivets and things like that," says White. "If they are in the tin shop, they'll make 
candle holders or a box." Fitted out in historic costume, they help with activities at 
their work site and sometimes they assist with tours. 

"The highlight," says White, "are the five days out in costume. Interpreters of- 
ten say that on the first visit the children are very quiet and shy; the interpreters 
launch them on simple projects and spend time just walking around with them and 
getting to know them. By the fifth week, though, they often are interpreting to the 
public. They are almost in role, in a sense, and you can see a change in their 
confidence level." 

The program culminates in a dinner where the children prepare a meal in the 
nineteenth-century manner for their parents, siblings, and teachers. 

This program is very beneficial to the children, says White. "They have an op- 
portunity to succeed at something, and they become the focus of attention. That's 
really an important thing for some of them who have never had that opportunity in 
the past. I think it's one of the best programs we do." 




For Teachers, Staff, or Volunteers 

") -^ »-«--■"■-•) 

kJSj&*£; • 

^f^q|U |JW*W fP: 

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco 

San Francisco, California 

or Tish Brown, coordinator of the Program 
for Visitors with Disabilities at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, it was a 
good news/bad news situation. The good news was that several groups of older 
adults with physical disabilities had come to see a temporary exhibition, and they 
all wanted to attend a lecture first. The bad news was that the auditorium could not 
accommodate so many wheelchairs. 

Rather than turn anyone away, the answer seemed clear to Brown and her staff. 
"We actually removed thirty seats from our auditorium," she says with a laugh. 
"That was an interesting exercise in screwdrivers." The incident exemplifies the mu- 
seums' determination to make their programs and collections available to all visi- 
tors, regardless of disability. 

The two museums that make up the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco are 
the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, exhibiting American, British, and ancient 
art, as well as the traditional arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas; and the 
California Palace of the Legion of Honor, specializing in European art and works 
of art on paper. 

The de Young occupies one level, and its exhibition space and entrances are free 
of barriers. Wheelchairs may be borrowed at the main entrance. The bathrooms are 
accessible to wheelchairs and contain lowered drinking fountains. There are desig- 
nated parking spaces for disabled visitors in lots near the museum; and, says Brown, 
"we even helped persuade the city bus system to add accessible buses to our line." 

The Legion is a copy of an eighteenth-century French building in which "con- 
siderable access adjustments are slowly taking place." The museum is expected to 
close in mid-1992 for renovations that will include making the building accessible. 

The entrance to the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum. 



Brown's goal is "to make the whole range of the permanent collections and tem- 
porary exhibitions accessible to disabled visitors." Each year some 5,000 disabled 
visitors and older adults participate in more than 150 activities generated by the Pro- 
gram for Visitors with Disabilities. 

Among the accessible programming offered to disabled visitors are a wide vari- 
ety of tours led by specially trained docents. One of the most ambitious programs, 
Docents for the Deaf, was established in 1970 by volunteers from both museums. It 
is a rigorous program in which docents learn sign language by working with a teacher 
once a week. Before joining the program, docents must have completed at least one 
year of study. The Docents for the Deaf include docents from several museums in the 
Bay Area, and the group gives a monthly tour in one of the museums. Brown feels 
that this program plays a vital role, but adds, "I have to say that it's difficult to main- 
tain because volunteerism has generally dropped off, and this is a very, very de- 
manding program." 

One possible way to offset the drop in volunteerism is to begin recruiting partic- 
ipants while they're young, a program Brown has undertaken with a group called 
the Museum Ambassadors. In this program, the museums hire and train high school 
students from the local public school system, thereby giving the students a valuable 
educational opportunity and helping the museums to reflect the ethnic makeup of 
the community they serve. The students study one area of the collections at a time, 
then give presentations both at the museums and in outreach visits to convalescent 
homes, retirement homes, and elementary and middle-school classrooms. 

Training for working with disabled students, most of whom are learning-disabled, 
requires extra patience and persistence, says Brown, but the results are worth it. 
"With these high school students, you just never know where the real stars are go- 
ing to come from. I'm thinking of one young man who moved to San Francisco af- 
ter a kind of rocky history. He was in special ed classes because he was hearing-im- 
paired, and he was sort of in the middle of a new start in life. He turned out to be a 
star as a Museum Ambassador, in addition to being a good student. Now he's going 
to the University of California at Santa Cruz, which is a pretty nice thing." 

The museums have also sought to enrich visits for disabled persons by providing a 
fist of art on exhibition that blind and low- vision patrons may touch. This list, says 
Brown, runs the gamut "from a late Roman sarcophagus, to an enormous sixteenth- 
century candlestick with all sorts of human bodies carved on it, to twentieth-century 
sculpture, to furniture, which, interestingly, is very popular with people who are visu- 
ally impaired because it has a very tactile velvet cushion on it." In addition to art on 
exhibition, the museums have a study collection of 500 objects primarily from Africa, 
Oceania, and the Americas that are brought out for any group by appointment. 


A statue adorns the pond by the museum 's entrance. 

The tactile presentations of study-collection objects started as monthly programs 
for visually impaired visitors and were publicized only among that population. But 
word about them spread, and the museums, recognizing their broad appeal, made 
them available to all visitors, with or without disabilities. 

The museums also offer art studio workshops to disabled visitors. Following a 
brief docent-led tour, participants work with professional artist John DeLois to make 
their own art based on the art they have just seen. For instance, visitors may tour a 
collection of American portraits, then go back to the art room and make self-por- 
traits; or they may look at African sculpture or American folk art and then try some- 
thing in the same genre. 

Brown describes DeLois, whose teaching experience includes serving as artist-in- 
residence in a local jail, as "a wonderful artist and, above all, a fine teacher" whose 




versatility in many media and adaptability to a variety of audiences have served the 
museum well. 

u John is the sort of artist who can make third-graders with learning disabilities 
and people in their early twenties who are recovering from drug abuse feel equally 
comfortable," she says. 

Naturally, adapting such projects to diverse audiences presents some challenges, 
but the museums try to make the activities available to even the most severely dis- 
abled visitors. For example, notes Brown, "there have been visitors who are so or- 
thopedically disabled they can only tell their enabler where to put the paint. They 
can't quite move their hands to do it themselves, but that is, in fact, a valid way of 
making art." 

The museums have produced a number of materials to help disabled visitors. A 
special brochure explains the programs and services available and explains which 
buses to take or where to park. The gallery guide is available in large print and in 
Braille. For major temporary exhibitions the museums generally produce an educa- 
tional brochure in Braille, large print, and cassette. The Docents for the Deaf have 
produced a video tour of the American collection in simultaneous communication. 
A mailing list of 1,400 disabled individuals and organizations receives the program's 
annual brochure and quarterly updates. 

While these programs require the combined efforts of staff members and docents 
alike, Brown credits much of the museums' success in serving special-needs audi- 
ences to the program's board of advisors. "I get advice from people who are experts 
on art and disabilities," she says, pointing out that all but one of the twelve board 
members have disabilities themselves and that they represent many of the Bay Area's 
outstanding agencies for disabled people. The San Francisco area, says Brown, u has 
been in the forefront of the drive for civil rights for disabled persons." 

The advisors' experience in living with disabilities and helping others do the same 
makes them a key part of training programs at the museums. Brown recounts one 
recent training session in which several advisors helped docents prepare for an up- 
coming exhibition. 

First, panel coordinator Laurie Hodas, who became disabled several years ago, 
explained where the difficulties for disabled visitors might be (such as a thick car- 
pet that a wheelchair might sink into) and how they might be overcome (stand by 
to give the visitor a helping hand). 

Next, Sandra Stone, an advisor who coordinates Youth Services at the Center for 
Independent Living and is herself visually impaired, talked about how docents can 

The Hearst Court exhibition gallery hosts parties and performances. 



American art from the i6cos and 1700s on exhibit. 

assist low- vision visitors. Finally, an artist who works with developmentally disabled 
populations discussed art-studio projects that would relate to the exhibition and be 
possible for a group with those disabilities. 

As advisor Laurie Hodas points out, however, the role of the advisory board ex- 
tends beyond training. For instance, the panel recently completed an extensive sur- 
vey of accessibility at both museums. "That took a lot of time," she says, 'it involved 
a number of us and a lot of Saturday mornings, measuring such things as the height 
of paintings, sculpture, and pedestals, and the width of bathroom doors." 


The efforts paid off, not only in terms of establishing priorities for the future, but 
in bringing immediate changes, such as improvements in bathroom facilities and a 
much-needed ramp entrance to the de Youngs Hearst Court, an exhibition gallery 
where parties, performances, and receptions occur. 

The ramp presented a challenge because of bureaucratic wrangling over financ- 
ing. The city owns the buildings and "the ramp was on the list of things done, or 
could be done, but who knows when?" However, the museums' administration be- 
came so convinced of the ramp's importance, it went ahead and paid the $6,000 for 
it. This move Hodas sees as an example of the museums' commitment to welcoming 
disabled visitors. "It's been exciting," she says. "The administration has been lis- 
tening to us, and that's been rewarding." 

She sees this sort of commitment to disabled visitors as a plus for all visitors, 
since such improvements as the Hearst Court ramp aids a parent with a stroller as 
well as a wheelchair user, while large-print labels assist a visitor who wears bifocals 
as well as a visually impaired person. 

"Our hope," says Laurie Hodas, u is that when people get to know us, they'll start 
thinking of us as being just like everybody else who enjoys coming to museums and 
seeing the art. That's our goal." 








tjjr v.- 



<\< ■■■ 


Kimbell Art Museum 

Fort Worth, Texas 

he Kimbell does not look like the type of mu- 
seum where one would expect an expansive education program. The museum build- 
ing is a masterpiece designed by American architect Louis I. Kahn. The Kimbell has 
elegant, open spaces designed primarily for viewing art. Yet, the museum, which 
houses a small but superb collection of European, Asian, Mesoamerican, and African 
art, also sponsors a variety of workshops, with special emphasis on those for hear- 
ing-impaired and visually impaired children. Since the auditorium is small and there 
are no classrooms, most activities take place within the galleries. Tables for work- 
shops are set up there. 

Ideas for the workshops often spring from something that is going on in the gal- 
leries. When the museum exhibited modern Chinese painting, hearing-impaired chil- 
dren first viewed a film about Chinese brush-painting techniques. Then, they tried 
painting using the same methods. When the museum showed African portraits, the 
children made papier-mache masks and decorated them with beads and fabrics. The 
youngsters appear to enjoy these projects immensely, but their purpose is a serious 
one. u We continue to stress basic artistic concepts like line, form, and color," says 
education coordinator Sharon Chastain, who writes and organizes the workshops, 
"and we teach about other cultures." 

When a typical two-hour workshop begins, the students are divided into four 
groups of six or seven, each with two docents and one or two sign-language inter- 
preters. In the workshop on Islamic art, for example, the group first views a cap- 
tioned film showing Islamic geometric patterns on buildings, tiles, and ceramics. 
Then they head for the galleries, with docents and interpreters, to study the real 
thing. Back in their own area, they talk about what they have seen, observing that 

A workshop for visually impaired children. 


the same patterns in various sizes are repeated on rugs, tiles, and manuscripts. On 
their tables are materials for hand- work: stencils in hexagonal and octagonal shapes. 
Using the stencils, they make their own geometric patterns, which they decorate with 
colored pencils. 

Chastain usually breaks up the time the children spend in the galleries. "It's tir- 
ing to be looking all the time to read sign language," she says. Later, the groups will 
go back to the galleries to look at Islamic floral designs and then will create their 
own floral designs and paint them on tiles. 

Preparing a workshop such as this takes a great deal of advance work, not only 
to prepare the materials but to make sure that all the people involved — teachers, 
docents, and interpreters — have the information they will need. Chastain prepares 
the program, including introducing the basic concept, the objects to illustrate it, the 
general background, and sometimes slides. Mike Cinatl, head of the Interpreting for 
the Deaf Program at nearby Tarrant County Junior College, looks over the material 
and creates a vocabulary list of basic signs. 

A week before each program these materials go to both the classroom and to the 
docents. This gives everyone a chance to prepare, as well as a common artistic vo- 
cabulary. "One of the things you discover," says Chastain, "is that there are no signs 
for some of the words we use. These workshops always add words to the students' 
vocabulary. When there is no sign, Mike invents one. Once, for example, we had a 
workshop on mythology that went along with an exhibition of Greek pottery. Mike 
had to make up names in sign for the gods and goddesses." 

Chastain also conducts a training program for the docents each month that work- 
shops are presented. When they get new workshop material, they discuss potential 
problems. "You need to work things out in advance," says Chastain. "You need to 
know where you [physically] stand in relation to the work of art and to the inter- 
preter. We go over ways to relate the crafts and painting sessions to what the chil- 
dren will see in the galleries. And we figure out how to break down the projects into 
small tasks because you must not rattle on. You have to give your instruction and 
then let them do it." 

An impressive number of hours go into planning and preparing each workshop. 
Each workshop involves eight docents and six to eight sign-language interpreters. 
Most museums would have trouble finding, let alone paying for, that many sign-lan- 
guage interpreters for workshops on a regular basis. The coming-together of a num- 
ber of lucky circumstances makes it possible for the Kimbell to have them. The in- 
terpreters are part of the Interpreting for the Deaf Program at Tarrant County Junior 
College, and the Kirnbell Art Museum is an official practicum site. About a dozen 
students are assigned to the museum at the conclusion of their training. They are not 



The Kimbell is one of Louis I. Kahn's most renowned designs. 

paid; however, successful completion of the work is their last step to certification. 

With the docent volunteers, the work is obviously a labor of love. "I have eight 
docents on the hearing-impaired workshops," says Chastain. ""Most of them do it all 
the way through the school year, year after year. Some have been doing it since we 
began the pilot program in 1983. They read the literature on deaf education and de- 
velop real skills. Some also work with the vision-impaired workshops. Though that 
means working with an entirely different set of problems, the fact that you tailor what 
you do to the individual child seems to translate from one workshop to the other." 

Like the interpreters, the docents are constantly evaluated. "If we see people who 
use their hands too much, who don't stay with the interpreters, or who don't use good 
facial expressions, we retrain," says Chastain. "We are always trying to improve the 
workshops and always learning from them." 

One of the things that Chastain and the docents learned early on was not to mis- 


use their limited knowledge of sign. All of the docents have picked up some words 
and expressions in sign language, and Chastain has had a semester or two of study. 
("Sign is very difficult," she says. "It's like speaking French and playing the piano at 
the same time.") At an early workshop they greeted the students and introduced them- 
selves in sign, thus giving the false impression that they could communicate in sign. 
When the youngsters realized that they could not, they were frustrated and angry. 

Programs such as workshops for hearing-impaired youth take more than the luck 
of being located near a college that trains sign-language interpreters or the good for- 
tune of having dedicated docents. Such programs always begin with support at the 
top, and so it was with the Kimbell. In the early 1980s Director Edmund Pillsbury 
decided to make the museum's resources accessible to every level of the community. 
He did not mean architecturally accessible, for the newly built museum was, of 
course, physically accessible from the start. Rather, he wanted programs that would 
reach out to the entire community. 

Among the results of this policy has been the remarkable series of workshop pro- 
grams. In addition to the workshops for hearing-impaired children, there are work- 
shops for hearing-impaired adults, tours for older adults, workshops for children and 
their parents, and workshops for visually impaired children. All of the workshops 
have been innovative, but none, perhaps, has broken as much new ground as have 
the workshops for visually impaired youngsters. 

Curator of education Marilyn Ingram, who began these workshops in 1982, 
wrote all around the country trying to find a model to look at before she started. 
"I was unable to uncover anyone who could give me a lead," she says. "But I 
thought it could be done. So I thought we would just try to make it work and learn 
as we went along." 

Working with Cheryl Neely, "a wonderful teacher of visually impaired children," 
Ingram did, indeed, find ways to make it work. The aim was never to keep children 
busy with pleasant arts-and-crafts projects; it was to teach the principles of art. "I 
felt that they were not getting something that is important in every part of our lives — 
an understanding of such concepts as balance, harmony, and proportion. Without 
vision, it is difficult to absorb these ideas, yet they are basic to an understanding of 
music, literature, logic, poetry." 

How do you teach balance and proportion to a group of eight-year-olds with lit- 
tle or no vision? Ingram began with the museum itself. A scale model of the museum 
introduced the children to the idea of an ordered space. Then they used their sense 
of touch to explore the building's symmetry and rhythms. Ingram explains: "We have 

"Seeing" a sculpture through touch. 

tup: accessible museum 


Learning the principles of art through touch. 

very few materials — travertine, concrete, stainless steel, and wood. But the use of 
these materials is consistent and logical, so that the material means something when 
you come across it. The travertine is twenty feet across, and the wood panel is ten 
feet across; that's repeated across the big walls. It's a symmetrical building, and sym- 
metry is one of the concepts it's important for them to learn — and not something 
they could pick up easily and intuitively." 

Ingram took them into the usually off-limits study library and let them feel the 


[ 3 8 

vaulted ceilings. She let them touch sculptures, rejecting the usual cotton gloves as 
"too thick" for this purpose and purchasing for them "anatomy gloves like doctors 
wear." They did a landscape composition using textures. "The things up close they 
could feel in great detail; things farther away they could sense. So they used silks 
and satins for very distant things and rough textures like wool tweed and canvas for 
the close-up things." 

They learned about structure through such activities as touching a chambered 
nautilus that had been cut apart so they could feel all the chambers, and building 
foam rubber arches large enough to walk through. 

They learned about balance by using a scale, which has two trays on either side 
of a fulcrum. "Balance is usually a visual judgment, but it can be tested on the 
scales," says Chastain, who has directed the visually impaired workshops since 1989. 

The good news is that these workshops work. The bad news is that the school 
system has cut back on expenses and has canceled field trips. (The Kimbell pays the 
costs of the workshops, but the schools must provide the transportation for visually 
impaired children.) Last year, the usual three workshops a month were cut to three 
a year, with only the Arlington school district participating. 

It is probably helpful to be philosophical about a situation like this and to re- 
member how useful it is that the workshops have been done and that the model for 
replicating them exists. 


Lawrence Hall of Science 

Berkeley, California 

11 Lawrence Hall of Science pro- 
grams share a similar goal: to spark curiosity and excitement about science and 
math,'''' says Director Marian C. Diamond. Established in 1968 on the University 
of California at Berkeley campus, the Lawrence Hall of Science (lhs) is both a 
science museum and a research center dedicated to improving science education 
in the schools. 

Over the years, the Lawrence Hall of Science has developed hundreds of lively 
programs in astronomy, biology, chemistry, earth science, mathematics, physics, and 
technology. Each year more than 94,000 students from kindergarten though high 
school explore the hall's exhibits, computer labs, and laboratory classrooms. Or they 
come to take workshops on such topics as Prehistoric Puzzles, Crime Lab Chemistry, 
Tracking Down Dinosaurs, Columbus' Environmental Impact, Is Anybody Out 
There? and Tin Can Cameras. Another 128,000 students in Northern California par- 
ticipate in the same programs when the Lawrence Hall of Science staff bring work- 
shops and assemblies to the schools. 

"Activities developed at the Lawrence Hall of Science help students learn about 
math and science by doing math and science," says Diamond, describing the hall's 
hands-on approach to education. For the purposes of the present study, what is es- 
pecially noteworthy is that Lawrence Hall of Sciences has pioneered the application 
of this hands-on approach to science programs for disabled youngsters. 

In 1976 a department of the Lawrence Hall of Science, the Center for Multisen- 
sory Learning (cml), received funding from the United States Office of Education 
to undertake Science Activities for the Visually Impaired (savi), a project designed 
to produce science enrichment activities for blind and visually impaired students in 

Children participate in a midlisensory learning program. 






upper elementary through junior high school. Three years of developing specialized 
equipment and new procedures resulted in nine modules of hands-on multisensory 
science activities. During the extensive field testing, staff made an interesting dis- 
covery: not only did the materials work well with blind and visually impaired stu- 
dents, but they also worked very well for students who had other disabilities. 

This revelation led to the next logical step; and with a second grant in 1979 from 
the United States Office of Education, the staff set out to adapt the savi activities 
for learning disabled and orthopedically disabled youngsters, and to research how 
hands-on science could most effectively be used with disabled students in the main- 
stream. The project was called Science Enrichment for Learners with Physical Hand- 
icaps (selph), and its products were merged with the SAVI products to produce the 
savi/selph program. 

The nine modules include such topics as measurements (one activity is titled Take 
Me to Your Liter), structures of life (featuring work with seeds to understand 
growth), communications or the physics of sound, and kitchen interactions (experi- 
ences with such common household substances as yeast). In the module on magnet- 
ism and electricity, students handle and investigate permanent magnets, electro- 
magnets, insulators, and conductors while building simple circuits and magnetic 
systems. In the environmental energy module, students make tools to put the sun 
and wind to work, discovering alternative energy sources as they work. 

This material is taught in workshops at the Center for Multisensory Learning and 
made available to schools or individuals in kits. Each kit serves up to four severely 
disabled students at one time or up to sixteen who are able to share materials. 
Teacher guides, training manuals, and videos are also available. The cost for devel- 
oping the programs was $970,000. The materials are available now on a cost-recov- 
ery basis. 

The Center for Multisensory Learning (cml) not only developed the new mate- 
rials but has trained educators to use it. With additional funding of $696,000 from 
the United States Office of Education, the Center for Multisensory Learning staff 
conducted thirty Regional Leadership Institutes around the country, twenty local 
teacher in-service courses on the multisensory learning techniques, and hundreds of 
awareness and one-day workshops. Center for Multisensory Learning also estab- 
lished a lending library of materials and continues to offer consultative services to 
educators wishing to integrate multisensory materials into their programs. 

"The leadership institutes established a network of leaders around the country," 
says Center for Multisensory Learning Coordinator Linda De Lucchi. "We had 300 
people who went through the savi/selph training over the years. So when we get 
a call from someone in Denver who is interested in the program, we send them in- 


formation from here, but we can also tell them who in their area knows about the 
program. It's still an active leadership network." 

The Center for Multisensory Learning was also instrumental in starting an or- 
ganization called Disabled Children's Computer Group (dccg), whose purpose is to 
use computers to assist in mainstreaming children with disabilities. "We had a small 
grant in 1983 from the United States Office of Education to explore technology for 
visually impaired students," says De Lucchi. 

"There were parents in the local community who were frustrated knowing that 
there might be technology that could help improve the quality of their children's lives 
but who did not have a place where they could try out the hardware or talk to peo- 
ple with similar needs. So for a while Disabled Children's Computer Group was here 
at Lawrence Hall of Science. We would have meetings with parents, educators, and 
professionals interested in the technological needs of disabled students." 

The Disabled Children's Computer Group now has a computer resource center 
where families and teachers can come in and try new hardware and software. "Dis- 
abled kids can sit down in front of computers and try out things," says De Lucchi. 
"There are workshops where kids can interact with computers and find out what 
kinds of formats would best assist them in their schooling." 

The Disabled Children's Computer Group works with youngsters with all kinds 
of disabilities, from learning- disabled to low-vision disabilities. There are youngsters 
who need other than keyboard access to computers, so the resource center has ex- 
panded keyboards and other kinds of input devices to get to the keyboard. The com- 
puter group works with children who have no oral communication, with children 
who cannot hold a pencil and write, with youngsters who are very bright but have 
cerebral palsy and can communicate in no way except through computers. For some 
disabled children, computers provide a method for expression that they would not 
otherwise have. 

"The Disabled Children's Computer Group is now a separate nonprofit organi- 
zation, part of the Alliance for Technology Access. Staff members at Lawrence Hall 
of Science still work closely with staff at the Disabled Children's Computer Group; 
in fact, several of us are on the board of directors." 

Through its Biology Department, Lawrence Hall of Science also has innovative 
programs aimed at a very different audience. Science and Math Discovery Work- 
shops for Seniors are free, two-hour workshops for retired adults interested in math 
or science. Each class involves hands-on activities as seniors work with simple chem- 
istry equipment, gentle animals, and computers, and visit the planet Mars via a plan- 

A more ambitious program, with serious implications for elementary education, 


is the intergenerational Youth and Seniors: Science Discovery Workshops. Here older 
volunteers are trained by Lawrence Hall of Science staff to present science work- 
shops to elementary and junior- high students. 

The workshops "address some of the major problems elementary school teach- 
ers have in making science and math acceptable to all the children," says Kathy Bar- 
rett, director of the biology education department. "When we train the teachers, we 
have them working in a group, so a team goes into the classroom. Providing a team 
of four to seven seniors who are knowledgeable in the activities enables small groups 
of children to have individual attention. 

"You can foster cooperative learning experiences, something that is hard for a 
teacher to do when she is the only teacher in a class of second or third graders. But 
the payoff is that there is more time spent in discussing and analyzing and extend- 
ing the experience because the kids get to share more of their findings, their ideas. 
So having a team of educators going into the elementary level is extremely valuable." 

These workshops take place once a week at participating schools, and Barrett 
prefers that they run "at least four weeks because there is a bonding that takes place 
with the seniors." Classroom teachers report that their students look forward to each 
visit of the older adults and talk about the science activities long after the visits. 

To volunteer for the program, older individuals do not need to have a scientific 
background. "We find that an openness to exploring with the children is far better 
than an in-depth science background," says Barrett. "In fact, we have to help sci- 
entists overcome their tendency to tell everything they know, which can be a real 
turn-off for young children." Older people are trained to "help the children make 
their own observations, collect their own data, write down what they have found, 
and then talk about what it all means." 

The older docents have three two-hour training sessions, where they go through 
the activities they will do with the children. "If it's finger-printing," says Barrett, 
"they will explore all kinds of prints that can be made by things — surfaces of or- 
anges, dominoes, pennies, elbows — and they learn how to take fingerprints of peo- 
ple and categorize different kinds of prints. Then they discuss the activity as a group 
and find out from people who have done it before what kinds of questions to expect 
from the children." 

A number of the workshops involve animals, says Barrett, "because children in 
urban situations have so few experiences with a variety of animals. One of our ac- 
tivities has always been terrariums — putting in little pill bugs and crickets and earth- 
worms and things like that. 

"Another popular series comes from our health activities project, where fourth- 
grade children explore with stethoscopes their own heartbeats and compare them 

I 44 

with guinea pigs, chinchillas, and rats. They can take the stethoscopes home and 
find out about the heartbeats of other kids or their families." 

The intergenerational program benefits seniors as well as the students. U A ca- 
maraderie springs up among the seniors, and life-long friendships develop," reports 
Barrett. "Almost all the seniors who started the program have stayed with us. All of 
them are busy people, but they make this program a priority. It's amazing how im- 
portant this is to the seniors and how important to the students." 

The workshops tend to change the image children have of growing old. ""Kids can 
have very negative attitudes about that," says Barrett. "But questionnaires we did 
with junior high students showed that they were very impressed by the seniors — 
thought that their lives were incredibly rich and that they were doing things that 
they wanted to do." 

The program was developed in 1982 with a small grant from General Electric. 
The state of California has an annual line item in the budget for intergenerational 
programs and provides $15,000 each year for it. The program is now operational in 
five school districts. Each year between ten and twelve schools have the program. 

Barrett believes that the program would be easiest to duplicate in places where 
there are museums or universities to provide the needed scientific resources and men- 
tors but says that u in school districts that have well-developed volunteer programs, 
the model would also work." 



'¥ 1 



A** . 


Museum of Science 

Boston, Massachusetts 

he teenager from the Perkins School for the 
Blind was getting restless, so Betty Davidson, an exhibit planner with the Museum of 
Science, took him over to a new activity station called "A Tool To Fit the Task." This 
exhibit is an array of tools paired with casts of their counterparts in the animal 
world — a bear's paw and a hand cultivator, a beaver skull with its chisel-like teeth 
and a real chisel, a swim fin and a swan's webbed foot. The purpose is to highlight 
adaptations that enable animals to live in their environment. "I explained the con- 
cept of it, placed his hand on the bear's claws and said, 'Now, below that you will 
find a garden tool that does the same thing. And that's how this goes throughout.' He 
felt the bear's claws, and he went right below and felt the cultivator, and you could 
see his face brighten. There is a look that comes over a person's face, and you know 
that he's got it. I started to say, 'And the next one . . . ' and he cut me off. He said, 'I 
know what to do. Don't tell me.' 

"He was so excited. No one had to walk him through and explain this activity. He 
could do it by himself and get the point of it. This exhibit opened something up for 
him. At that moment all our work seemed worthwhile." 

The work Davidson refers to was an experimental project aimed at turning a 
gallery in the Museum of Science into a model multisensory exhibit that would ap- 
peal to and be accessible to all visitors. The process the museum followed to make 
this exhibit a lively and accessible place is both fascinating and probably will be in- 
structive to others who wish to make their exhibits multisensory. 

Much of the credit for getting the project started goes to Betty Davidson who has 
served at the museum since 1987. Because of her background — a p!i.d. in biochem- 
istry, experience as an elementary -school science resource teacher and curriculum 

The museum is located on the banks of the Charles River. 


developer, and long-standing interest in access issues — made her the right person 
on the right project. The museum applied for and received money from the Institute 
for Museum Services for an access evaluation, which Davidson coordinated. 

In the evaluation and the work that followed, Davidson sought the help of peo- 
ple who represented the people the museum wanted to reach. Her committee in- 
cluded Annette Posell, director of marketing at the wgbh Caption Center, who is 
deaf; Ray Bloomer, disability specialist with the National Park Service, who is visu- 
ally impaired; and Jan Majewski, coordinator for special education at the Smith- 
sonian Institution. Davidson, who is mobility impaired, did the work on mobility is- 
sues. The committee did not attempt to evaluate the entire museum. They chose to 
look at several exhibits, a lecture/demonstration on static electricity, and the entry 
areas — garage, lobby, the places a visitor first encounters. 

At the end of the evaluation, the museum decided to improve access to the New 
England Lifezones gallery. The museum applied to the National Science Foundation 
for funds to make this a model participatory exhibit and received $200,000, which 
Davidson says is "actually a modest budget." 

The original New England Lifezones exhibit was an open gallery consisting of six 
large window dioramas and one small one. These portrayed animals in their native 
habitats — birds of the rocky mid-coast of Maine, beavers, a bear, a moose, a group- 
ing of deer, and shorebirds at Crane's Beach in Massachusetts. The exhibits were ex- 
plained by labels on the wall. The only interactive elements were two sets of push 
buttons that enabled visitors to spotlight and identify the sea birds and shore birds. 

Because the exhibit was completely visual and in a dimly lit space, it was inac- 
cessible to visitors with visual impairments. In addition, however, the bird spot- 
lighting buttons were close together, and people with coordination problems couldn't 
use them; the small-print labels were hard to read at a distance and not well placed 
for visitors in wheelchairs. Additionally, the information on the labels was difficult 
for many visitors to follow. 

This "was a very traditional natural history diorama. They are all over the 
place — big, beautiful displays behind windows, and they are explained by labels. If 
you can't see well, though, you might as well not be there. But it wasn't poorly done. 
I think that often the assumption is that you are going to experience a museum solely 
with your eyes. That holds true for museums being built right now." 

Since the idea was not to change the dioramas but to make them accessible and 
meaningful to visitors — the first step involved making an inventory of the informa- 
tion a visitor could learn by looking at the dioramas and reading the labels. It was 
clear that they contained a wealth of information. 

A careful look at the beaver diorama, for example, would show the size and shape 


of the adult and a yearling, their physical characteristics, their behavior, their habi- 
tat, and such adaptations as their chisel teeth for felling trees, the hind legs with 
webbed feet for swimming, the flat rudder-like tail, and the thick, waterproof fur for 
keeping them warm even when swimming under ice in winter. 

The next step was to find out what visitors were actually learning from the dio- 
ramas. Surveys by independent evaluators showed that learning was minimal. Most 
visitors regarded the gallery as an attractive display of stuffed animals. Few people 
stayed long; nineteen percent cruised through in less than a minute. Few understood 
the major ideas of the exhibit — that New England has a variety of environments and 
that animals adapt to these environments in all types of interesting ways. Only one 
person in five could name one animal adaptation. In short, the exhibit was intellec- 
tually, as well as physically, inaccessible. 

Staff and committee members then set some goals for what they wanted the ex- 
hibit to be and do. First, of course, they wanted everyone to enjoy the experience and 
get something out of it. They wanted visually impaired visitors to have some sense 
of what was behind the windows. They wanted visitors with other disabilities to have 
physical and intellectual access to the displays. And finally, they wanted all visitors 
to learn something about habitats and adaptations. For example, they wanted all 
visitors to recognize that each diorama represented a New England environment, to 
see that the plants and animals were typical for that environment and adapted to it. 
They also hoped visitors would make cross-references among the dioramas, noting, 
for example, that both gulls and beavers have webbed feet for swimming. 

Brainstorming sessions followed. Staff and committee members suggested a wide 
range of ideas — from the cautious and practical to the splendidly unrealistic. ""What 
we wanted was to bring all possibilities out on the table as a catalyst for discussion," 
says Davidson. 

From the discussions came certain decisions: videotapes would be captioned; the 
exhibit would present no barriers to wheelchair users; audio tapes would be used to 
present label information and also to evoke as much of the environment as possible; 
labels would be in large print, clearly written, and well lit; there would be touchable 
objects. The guiding principle was that design features which allow disabled visitors 
to participate in an exhibit are the same ones that enhance the exhibit's interest and 
educational value for everyone. 

"We did a lot of prototype testing — brought out new things and looked at how 
they were used. I called in groups to help me — from the Perkins School for the Blind, 
children with mobility problems from schools and rehab facilities, some deaf stu- 
dents in a high-school program, and emotionally and learning- disabled children from 
an elementary school. 


Before any idea was put out in final form, I invited people, adults as well as chil- 
dren, to use these exhibit components and see whether they were working right. Some 
of the stations were modified two or three times based on the users' reactions." 

In the end, two types of changes were made to the exhibit: new components were 
added to help explain and interpret the individual dioramas; and activity stations 
were installed to illustrate the common themes about habitat and adaptation. 

"The new components,'" says Davidson, "had to help people get beyond 'Oh! A 
moose!' in their perceptions of the dioramas." To do that, the new additions involve 
as many of the visitor's senses as possible. The additions include: 

■ An introductory panel for the entire exhibit. This contains background infor- 
mation in graphic and audio form. 

■ Smell boxes. Push a button and a fan blows an odor, such as musk or spruce, 
associated with the scene in the diorama. 

■ Audio tapes. The visitor lifts the receiver to hear an explanation of the scene 
and listen to environmental sounds, such as the ocean and the cries of shore birds. 

■ Two-tiered labels. The most basic information is in thirty-six point print. Less 
important information is in twenty-eight point. The sentences are short and clearly 
written to accommodate visitors with limited reading ability due to profound deaf- 
ness, learning disabilities, or limited English. 

■ Touchable objects. The team agreed that full-scale mounts of the birds and an- 
imals in the dioramas would be ideal — a goal not possible because of the expense 
and the fragility of the birds and some other specimens. Instead, they decided to try 
full-scale mounts of a beaver and a black bear, though many worried that the spec- 
imens would be vandalized or petted to death within two weeks. Additions to the ex- 
hibit included: bronze replicas of a cormorant and a godwit (a species of shorebird). 
Other touchable elements included: a set of white-tailed deer antlers and the hooves 
of a deer and a moose, mounted together for comparison. 

■ Three activity stations encourage visitors to draw comparisons about habitat 
and adaptations from the different dioramas: (i) Outer coverings. Touchable fur sam- 
ples, which can be viewed through a microscope, show, for example, the differences 
in bear, beaver, and deer fur — how each is insulated and how beavers are water- 
proofed; (2) A tool to fit the task. Touchable animal "tools" — in this instance, spe- 
cialized mouth and foot parts, are compared with human tools that have a similar 
structure and function; and (3) Build a beast. To show how an animal's body shape 
is related to the way it lives, visitors select from a variety of wooden body, head, and 
foot parts and assemble an animal adapted to a particular lifestyle. 

The exhibit, now called New England Habitats, has been in place since early 1989, 
and it is possible to assess some results. One worry — that the mounts would wear out 


after two weeks — has been dismissed. The beaver lasted about a year and was re- 
placed. The bear survived a year and a half — and 500,000 visitors to the gallery — be- 
fore being petted bald. The replacement costs for bear and beaver were less than $2,000. 

The composition of the audience has changed from mostly adults to a mixture of 
children and adults. The average time spent in the gallery has more than tripled. 

Now, the exhibit is a lively, well-populated place. "I am happy with the way the ex- 
hibit is being used — the enthusiasm," says Davidson. "It's nice to see family groups in 
there with each person choosing what he or she wants to get out of the exhibit. A little 
child may run around and feel the bear and smell the smells and rush back to grab an 
older sibling and bring him over and say, 'Is that what bears smell like?' The parents 
may go through and read the labels to the children because that's what parents do. And 
somehow, all together, the sum of learning is so much greater because people share 
what they learn with one another within a group. That to me is very exciting. 

"The important thing, though, is that this exhibit is now not only usable for a 
much larger proportion of disabled people but much more usable and enjoyable for 
everyone. That doesn't surprise me. 

"What does surprise me is how the exhibit has dramatically improved how much 
people learn. In the beginning, maybe twenty percent could name one adaptation. 
At the end of this project, one hundred percent of the visitors could name one adap- 
tation, and ninety percent could name two. 

"You're reaching everybody by providing different modalities of learning. They can 
experience it by smelling, feeling, listening; they don't have to read if they don't want 
to or can't. The multisensory approach is a very valuable one. It doesn't have to be elab- 
orate, but it's important to give people choices of how they access the information." 

Though the exhibit is now much more usable for disabled persons, Davidson says, 
"You are not going to have perfection, even in a brand-new exhibit. You're not going 
to have every inch of it accessible to every human being — it just can't be done. The 
important thing is to make people feel welcome and to give them a meaningful expe- 
rience. There are lots of ways you can do a great deal without having a perfectly and 
universally accessible facility. People should not be intimidated thinking that's what 
they need to have. They must be aware and be welcoming and do what they can." 


University Museum / Southern Illinois University 

Carbondale, Illinois 

t, said we were receptive to working with 
people with any type of disability and agreed to give it a try," says Lorilee Huffman, 
describing the start of an innovative program that uses the museum as a training 
ground for disabled people. 

The program began in 1986 when Huffman, who is curator of collections in the 
University Museum of Southern Illinois University, met with staff from the Evalua- 
tion Development Center (edc), which specializes in rehabilitating disabled people. 
"EDC was looking for jobs requiring higher-level skills for people with disabilities," 
says Huffman. "They felt that libraries and museums might offer some opportuni- 
ties. They said they can always get their clients into places like McDonald's to clean 
up, but no one wants to give them a chance to do something better. This is what we 
try to do." 

Southern Illinois University is a good place to give a program like this a try, ac- 
cording to Huffman. The campus is very accessible for disabled persons — "some- 
thing the university takes pride in" — and it draws a lot of disabled students. It has 
a strong department of rehabilitation and a number of disabled student services, 
such as readers, wheelchairs for rent, and good support groups. 

Before the first disabled people showed up to work, however, both the museum 
and EDC did mammoth preparation. Huffman's first step was to identify the jobs 
that might be suitable for training disabled workers. Talking with staff, she first did 
a thorough study of the variety of tasks performed in the museum. This study be- 
came the basis for job descriptions, each with its list of duties and responsibilities. 
From there it was possible to identify which jobs would be suitable for a six-week 
training program for disabled individuals. 

SIU 's University Museum trains disabled people for skilled jobs. 

'5 a 


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The SIU campus is highly accessible. 

These included: preparing collection information on the computer; conducting 
research on exhibits; assisting in the installation of exhibits; assisting in collection 
inventory; working with the extensive slide library files; overseeing and managing 
shop tools; updating the learning kits; giving guided tours to museum visitors; re- 
searching and writing biographical information on artists in the collection; per- 
forming general research; acting as a gallery guard; and working as a receptionist. 

Many of these tasks are the same ones performed by college students, who work 
in the museum as part of their undergraduate or graduate work in museum studies. 
The college students and the disabled staff sometimes end up working side by side 
doing inventories or making computer data sheets. 

edc prepares and evaluates their clients before recommending them to the mu- 
seum. They generally come from the southern Illinois counties and range in age from 
eighteen to fifty-five. Some have emotional disabilities, and some physical; some were 
born with their disabilities while others acquired them, often in accidents. EDC uses 


what Huffman terms "a holistic method of rehabilitation." Many of its clients live in 
a facility on campus while taking classes in social skills and independent living. Later 
they may move to a semi-independent living center, where there are fewer restric- 
tions. Throughout, edc continues to work with them, helping them with the prob- 
lems of independent living and giving vocational training and counseling. Some 
clients receive a small stipend from edc through the Illinois Department of Reha- 

When EDC feels that it has someone who would fit into the museum workplace, 
Huffman meets with the individual and with representatives from edc . "It is all done 
in a very professional manner," she says. "EDC makes clients bring in a resume, and 
we discuss which job might suit them best. We have never turned anybody down. 
I'm going to give everybody a chance. I'm not going to say, T don't think this per- 
son will work out."' 

Nearly always they do work out. Since the program started in 1986, the museum 
has trained thirty people with disabilities. Of these, only one person did not work 
out, and edc later decided that the individual was immature and not ready for work. 

All the rest completed the job training with some degree of success. One woman 
who has cerebral palsy started out in the program three years ago and now volun- 
teers at the museum ten hours a week. She has a B.A. in history and an interest in 
museum work. "She works primarily with the collection records. We are doing a lot 
of inventory, and we bring the inventory materials to her — the shelf is too high for 
her to reach them. But that's all we need to do for her. She looks them over and com- 
pletes the computer data sheets on them. She likes doing it. She can see how much 
she has done to update our inventory and records, and I think the accomplishment 
brings her satisfaction. For us, it's like having a quarter- time staff person." 

Another woman, who uses a wheelchair, went through the edc program and the 
museum training. "We kept increasing her workload and her responsibility," says 
Huffman, "we couldn't keep her busy enough." Later she decided to enroll in the 
university as a full-time student and is now seeking a degree in rehabilitation. 

Normally the museum staff trains the individual. Since each person works about 
ten hours a week, the training at first occupies the staff member about twelve hours 
a week since the staffer must prepare. After a few weeks they begin to work more 
independently on the job. "It isn't one-on-one all the time," says Huffman. "We check 
their work, and we are there for support." The museum never takes more than two 
clients at one time. 

The staff does not find its role in training burdensome, says Huffman. One rea- 
son is that she brings them into the planning process, seeking their advice on where 
the new person might be placed. "Also," she says, "this project is interesting. It's re- 



warding for the clients and for people at the museum, too. We all learn from each 
other. " 

On those occasions when the new person does not seem to be working out at the 
job, Huffman takes a very flexible approach. "If it doesn't work, we don't get all ex- 
cited. Sometimes it is just that we have not matched the right job to the person. We 
evaluate the person every week, so if we notice a problem, we all get right on it. We 
consult with edc, and maybe we will boost the amount of training, or find a new 
strategy for training them in the same job but approaching it in a different way. Then, 
we've had cases where we just had to move them to something else. But we always 
find a spot for them. 

"Everything depends upon the individual," she says. "Each one is unique. You 
can't say, 'Well, this person has cerebral palsy, so she will be like this.' That's not 
true. They are as varied as everyone else. Some are very mature in their judgment; 
others may be insecure because of their disability and fear of failure. And maybe 
people have always given them problems because of their disability. We try to put 
them at ease. Tf you mess up,' we say, 'don't worry about it. We can fix it. Every- 
thing is fixable." 

At first Huffman was "a little apprehensive" about evaluating the clients because 
"you want to be kind. But you have to be as objective as you can because you are 
benefiting them by doing that. If you say, 'Oh, you're doing a good job,' and they re- 
ally are not, you undermine the whole program." 

For museums considering a training program for disabled persons, Huffman ad- 
vises doing a lot of groundwork. "Most important, you need to set the program up 
right by working with someone, or some institution, that knows about rehabilita- 
tion. Doing it on your own without any background in rehab could be pretty frus- 
trating, I'd think." 

No doubt it is also an asset to have someone with Huffman's enthusiasm and ded- 
ication involved in making the program work. "It is my focus," she says, "and has 
been for many years." 

Right now she is looking into ways that the program at Southern Illinois Uni- 
versity might be expanded. One hope is to get grant support so that the museum 
could provide stipends and thus extend the training for a longer period of time. She 
would also like to do some pilot studies to encourage other museums to undertake 
similar training. The field has barely been explored, she feels, and it has "vast po- 
tential," both for disabled persons and for museums. 

One ofSIU's retrained clerical workers. 







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Kolar, Judith Rena. "A Bird in the Hand: Planning a Zoo Program for the Blind." 

Curator 24 (2): 97-108 (1981). 
Lehon, Lester H. "Development of Lighting Standards for the Visually Impaired." 

Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness 74 (7): 249-53 (1980). 
Libin, Laurence. "To Touch and Hear: A Musical Instruments Exhibition for the 

Blind." ICOM Education, ICOM-CECA 7: 36-37 (1975-76). 
Maynard, Merrill A. "Museums Are a Resource for the Blind." Dialogue 24 (3): 83-84 

Moore, George. "Displays for the Sightless." Curator 11 (4): 292-96 (1968). 

Nair, S. N. "Special Programmes for Blind Children at the National Museum of Nat- 
ural History, New Delhi, India." Museum 33 (3): 174-75 (1981). 

Pearson, Anne. "Please Touch: An Exhibition of Animal Sculpture at the British Mu- 
seum." International Journal of Museum Management and Curatorship 3 (4): 
373-78 (1984). 

Pearson, Fiona. "Sculpture for the Blind: National Museum of Wales." Museums 
Journal 81 (1): 35-37 (1981). 

Pierotti, R. "Be, See, Touch, Respond." Museum News 52: 43-48 (1973). 

Raff ay, Monique. "The Arts through Touch Perception: Present Trends and Future 
Prospects." British Journal of Visual Impairment 6 (2): 63-65 (1988). 

Rowan, Madeline B., and Sally Rogow. "Making Museums Meaningful for Blind 
Children." Gazette 11 (3): 36-41 (1978). 

Rowland, William. "An Experiment in Art Appreciation by Touch." New Beacon 
58 (685): 115-17 (1974). 

Rowland, William. "Museums and the Blind: It Feels Like a Flower ..." /COM News 
26 (3): 117-21 (1973). 


1 06 

Rubin, Judith A. "The Exploration of a 'Tactile Aesthetic'." New Outlook for the 

Blind -jo (9): 369-75 (1976). 
Scherf-Smith, Patricia. "Against Segregating the Blind." Museum News 55 (3): 10-11 


Seven, Steven M. "Environmental Interpretation for the Visually Impaired." Edu- 
cation of the Visually Handicapped 12: 53-58 (Summer 1980). 

Sheets, R. A. "Sharing the Museum Experience." Braille Forum 23: 12-16 (January 1985). 

Shore, Irma. "Designing Exhibits for the Visually Impaired." Museum News 67 (2): 
62-64 (1988). 

Snider, Harold. "Arts for the Blind and Visually Impaired: A View from the Jun- 
gle." The Braille Monitor: 40-43 (February 1978). 

Snider, Harold. "Museum Integration." The New Beacon 61 (719). London: Royal 
Institute for the Blind. 

Snider, Harold. "Museums and the Blind: A Look Ahead." The Braille Monitor: 
465-67 (September 1976). 

Stanford, Charles W. "Knowing Art in a Museum through the Perception of Touch." 
North Carolina Art Museum Bulletin 8 (2): 4-11 (1968). 

Stanford, Charles W. "A Museum Gallery for the Blind." Museum News 44 (10): 
18-23 (1966). 

Steiner, Charles K. "Art Museums and the Visually Handicapped Consumer: Some 
Issues in Approach and Design." Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness 77 

(7): 330-33 (1983)- 
Steiner, Charles K., Amy German, Wolfgang Brolley, "Helping Hearing-Disabled 

Visitors and the Metropolitan Museum of Art." Their Worlds 1982. (Publication 

of Foundation for Children with Hearing Disabilities) 
"The Tactual Museum of Athens: An Educational Resource for the Blind." Mu- 

seum(i62): 78-79 (1989). 
Toll, Dove. "Should Museums Serve the Visually Handicapped?" The New Outlook 

for the Blind 69 (10): 461-64 (1975). 
Watkins, Malcolm J. "A Small Handling Table for Blind Visitors." Museums Jour- 

10/75(1): 29-30 (1975). 


Books, reports, and guides 

Banks, Geraldine, and Mary Pulsifer. "Good Impressions." Perspectives for Teach- 
ers of the Hearing Impaired 4 (3): 6-9 (1986). 

Bergman, Eugene. Arts Accessibility for the Deaf Washington, D.C.: National Access 
Center, 1981. 24 pp. 



Bizaguet, Eric. "Sufferers from Defective Hearing and the New Techniques for Com- 
munication." In Museums without Barriers: A New Deal for the Disabled, pp. 
156-59. London and New York: Routledge, 1991. 

Bouchauveau, Guy. "Reception Services for the Deaf at the Cite des Sciences et de 
Flndustrie at La Villette in Paris. r> In Museums without Barriers: A New Deal for 
the Disabled, pp. 160-62. London and New York: Routledge, 1991. 

Derycke, Beatrice. "International Visual Art for the Deaf." In Museums without Bar- 
riers: A New Deal for the Disabled, pp. 163-164. London and New York: Rout- 
ledge, 1991. 

Fellman, Meri. Programs for Deaf Visitors at the National Air and Space Museum: 
Research Study. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, National Air and 
Space Museum, 1977. 

Harkness, Sarah P. Building Without Barriers for the Disabled. New York: Whitney 
Library of Design, 1976. 

Landmark Society of Western New York. Museums Are for Everyone: Accessibility 
for the Hearing Impaired. Rochester, N.Y.: The Landmark Society of Western 
New York, 1982. 

Morgan, Michelle. Notes on Design Criteria for People with Deafness. Washington, 
D.C.: The American Institute of Architects, 1976. 

Sign-Language Program. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Division of 
Education Services, Spring 1989. 

Walker, Lou Ann, and Nancy Rosenblatt Richner. Museum Accessibility for Hear- 
ing-Impaired People. New York: The Modern Museum of Art, 1983. 97 pp. 

Willard, Tom. Arts and Museum Accessibility for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People. 
Rochester, N.Y.: Deaf Artists of America, 1991. 32 pp. 


Breunig, H. Latham. "About the Hearing-Impaired Audience." In special issue "Fo- 
cus on the Disabled" edited by Susan N. Lehman with Janice Majewski. The Jour- 
nal of Museum Education: Roundtable Reports 6 (2): 9-11 (1981). 

Feeley, Jennifer. "The 'Listening Eye': Tours for the Deaf in San Francisco Bay Area 
Museums." Museum Studies Journal 2 (1): 36-49 (1985). 

Novik, Sandra P. "Museum Characteristics Advantageous for Education of the Deaf." 
Journal for the Rehabilitation of the Deaf '17 (3): 5-12 (1983). 

Sutherland, Mimi. "Total Communication." Museum News 55 (3): 24-26 (1977). 

Tennenbaum, Paula. "Soundtracks: Intern Develops New Audiences." The Museol- 
ogist 46 (167): 8-10 (Spring 1984). 




Books, reports, and guides 

Artymowski, Jan D. "Services for the Mentally Handicapped at the Royal Castle in 
Warsaw, Poland.' 1 In Museums without Barriers: A New Deal for the Disabled, 
pp. 181-186. London and New York: Routledge, 1991. 

de Ponthieu, Jean. "Art and Museums Even for Those Who Suffer the Worst Dis- 
advantage." In Museums without Barriers: A New Deal for the Disabled, pp. 
167-171. London and New York: Routledge, 1991. 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Museum Education for Retarded Adults: Reach- 
ing Out to a Neglected Audience. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 
1979. 47 pp. bibliog. 

Reising, Gert. "The National Museum of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe, Germany." In Mu- 
seums without Barriers: A New Deal for the Disabled, pp. 177-180. London and 
New York: Routledge, 1991. 

Steiner, Charles K. "Museum Programmes Designed for Mentally Disabled Visitors." 
In Museums without Barriers: A New Deal for the Disabled, pp. 172-176. Lon- 
don and New York: Routledge, 1991. 

Steiner, Charles K. Museums: A Resource for the Learning Disabled. 2d ed. New 
York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Division of Education Services, 1984. 

3 2 PP- 
Steiner, Charles K., Amy German, and Wolfgang Rrolley. "Helping Learning Dis- 
abled Visitors at the Metropolitan Museum of Art." In Their World, pp. 76-77. 
New York: Foundation for Children with Learning Disabilities, 1983. 


Ouertani, Nayla. "A New Source of Hope: A Scheme for Mentally Handicapped 
Children in Tunisia." Museum 33 (3): 172-173 (1981). 

Schleien, Stuart J. et al. "Integrating Children with Moderate to Severe Cognitive 
Deficits into a Community Museum Program." Education and Training in Men- 
tal Retardation 22 (2): 112-20 (1987). 

Steiner, Charles K. "Reaching the Mentally Handicapped." Museum News 56 (6): 

Steiner, Charles K. "The Met and Mentally Retarded Museum-Goers." In special is- 
sue "Focus on the Disabled" edited by Susan N. Lehman with Janice Majew- 
ski.The Journal of Museum Education 6 (3): 7-8 (1981). 




Books, reports, and guides 

Richard, Anne. Able to Attend: A Good Practice Guide on Access to Events for Dis- 
abled People. London: NCVO Employment Unit, 1987. 30 pp. 

The Smithsonian Institution. Smithsonian: A Guide for Disabled Visitors. Washing- 
ton, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1989. 27 pp. 


Ashby, Helen. "York 'Please Touch' Workshop." Museums Journal 89 (8): 11 (1989). 
Kenney, Alice P. "Museums from a Wheelchair." Museum News 53 (4): 14-17 (1974). 
Kenney, Alice P. "A Test of Barrier-Free Design." Museum News 55 (3): 27-29 

Westerlund, Stella, and Thomas Knuthammar. "Handicaps Prohibited — Trav- 
elling Exhibition in Sweden." Museum 33 (3): 176-79 (19082). 


Books, reports, and guides 

American Association of Retired Persons. Attracting Older Americans to Museums: 
A Guide for Museum Educators. Washington, D.C.: American Association of 
Retired Persons, Institute of Lifetime Learning, 1985. 28 pp. 

American Association of Retired Persons. Museum Opportunities for Older Persons. 
Washington, D.C.: American Association of Retired Persons, 1984. 16 pp. 

Art, the Elderly, and a Museum: Older Adult Programs at the Brooklyn Museum. 
Brooklyn, N.Y.: The Brooklyn Museum, 1980. 

Balkema, John B., with Harry R. Moody. The Creative Spirit: An Annotated Bibliog- 
raphy on the Arts, Humanities and Aging. Washington, D.C.: The National Coun- 
cil on Aging, 1986. 

Cahill, Pati, comp. Arts, the Humanities and Older Americans: A Catalogue of 
Program Profiles. Washington, D.C.: The National Council on the Aging, 1981, 
81 pp. 

Greenberg, Pearl, with Paula Terry. Visual Arts and Older People: Developing Quality 
Programs. Springfield, 111.: Charles C. Thomas, 1987. 205 pp. 



Heffernan, Ildiko, and Sandra Schnee. Art, the Elderly, and a Museum: Older Adult 

Programs at the Brooklyn Museum. Brooklyn, N.Y.: The Brooklyn Museum, 1980. 
Johnson, Alton C, and E. Arthur Prieve. Older Americans: The Unrealized Audience 

for the Arts. Madison: University of Wisconsin, 1977. 
McCutcheon, Priscilla B. An Arts and Aging Media Sourcebook: Films, Videos, 

Slide/Tape Shows. Washington, D.C.: The National Council on the Aging, 1986. 
McCutcheon, Priscilla B., and Cathryn S. Wolf. A Resource Guide to People, Places 

and Programs in Arts and Aging. Washington, D.C.: The National Council on the 

Aging, 1984. 188 pp. 
Mertz, Gregory A., with illustrations by Sara Stromayer. Our Natural World: Group 

Discussion and Activity Guides for Older Audiences and Their Group Leaders. 

Washington, D.C.: Office of Education, National Museum of American History, 

Smithsonian Institution, 1986. 96 pp. 
Older Adults in Museums, Arts and Humanities: Selected Readings and Resources. 

Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, Museum Reference Center, 1984. 
Padwe, Alice, ed. Older Adults and the Museum World: An Emerging Partnership. 

Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1982. 66 pp., bibliog. 
Rubin, Eleanor. Looking Together: A Free Training Program for Senior Adults at the 

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1979. 103 pp. 
Senior Citizen Program — The Baltimore Museum of Art: A Handbook. Baltimore, Md.: 

The Baltimore Museum of Art, Division of Education, Senior Citizen Program, 1977. 
Sharpe, Elizabeth M. The Senior Series Program: A Case Study with Implications for 

Adoption. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Amer- 
ican History, 1982. 228 pp. 


Graetz, Linda. "Houston: "A Steady Hand and Peaceful Heart"' in a special section 

"Art Museums and Older Adults." Museum News 59 (5): 30, 33-35 (1981). 
Heffernan, Ildiko, and Sandra Schnee. "Brooklyn: Building a New Musuem Audience" 

in special section "Art Museums and Older Adults." Museum News 59 (5): 30-32 

Hubbard, Linda. "Partners in Learning." Modern Maturity 26 (1): 87-88 (1983). 
"Museums and Older Adults." Special issue edited by Elizabeth M. Sharpe et al. 

Roundtable Reports: The Journal of Museum Education 9 (4): 2-20 (Fall 1984). 
Sunderland, Jacqueline T. "Museums and Older Americans." Museum News 55 (3): 




Books, reports, and guides 

Access Improvements in Historic Districts: Providing Access to Boston s Historic New- 
bury Street for People with Disabilities. Boston, Mass.: Design Guild Adaptive En- 
vironments Center, 1989. 

Ballantyne, Duncan S. Accommodation of Disabled Visitors at Historic Sites in the 
National Park System. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior, Tech- 
nical Preservation Services Division, 1983. 

Cultural Resources Management Guideline, no. NPS-28. Washington, D.C.: U.S. De- 
partment of the Interior, National Park System, Park Historic Architecture Divi- 
sion, Cultural Resources Management, 1985. 

Battaglia, David H. The Impact of the Americans with Disabilities Act on Historic 
Structures. Information Series, no. 55. Washington, D.C.: National Trust for 
Historic Preservation, 1991. 16 pp. 

Battaglia, David H. "Americans with Disabilities Act: Its Impact on Historic Build- 
ings and Structures." 10 Preservation Law Reporter 1169 (1991). 

Douglas, James D. "Requirements for Accessibility in Historic Buildings under 
the Americans with Disabilities Act." In Legal Problems of Museum Adminis- 
tration: Course of Study Transcripts, cosponsored by The Smithsonian Insti- 
tution with the Cooperation of the American Association of Museums, pp. 
387-98. Washington, D.C.: The American Uaw Institute, 1992. 

The Impact of Accessibility and Historic Preservation Laws, Regulations and Poli- 
cies on NPS Historic Sites: Analysis and Recommendations. Washington, D.C.: 
U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1978. 

Jester, Thomas C, and Judy L. Hayward, eds. Accessibility and Historic Preser- 
vation Resource Guide. A guide to The Accessibility and Historic Preservation 
Workshops sponsored by the Historic Windsor; the National Park Service, 
Preservation Assistance Division; the Advisory Council on Historic Preserva- 
tion; and the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers. Pho- 
tocopy, 1992. Reprint information available from Historic Windsor, Inc., Wind- 
sor, Vt. 

Kenney, Alice P. Hospitable Heritage: The Report of Museum Access. Allentown, 
Pa.: Lehigh County Historical Society, 1979. 44 pp. 

Kenney, Alice P., with Charles Cox. Access to the Past: Museum Programs and 
Handicapped Visitors. A Guide to Section 504 — Making Existing Programs and 
Facilities Accessible to the Disabled Person. Nashville, Tenn.: American Asso- 
ciation for State and Local History, 1980. 131 pp., bibliog. 


Parrott, Charles. Access to Historic Buildings for the Disabled: Suggestions for 
Planning and Implementation, no. 46. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of 
the Interior, Technical Preservation Services Division, 1980. 86 pp. 

Smith, William, and Tara G. Frier. Access to History: A Guide to Providing Access 
to Historic Buildings for People with Disabilities. Boston, Mass.: Massachusetts 
Historical Commission, 1989. 

"Preserving the Past and Making It Accessible to Everyone: How Easy a Task?" 
CRM Supplement 1991. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior, Na- 
tional Park Service, Preservation Assistance Division, Cultural Resources Pro- 
grams, 1991. 

U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Accommodation of Hand- 
icapped Visitors at Historic Sites, Volume 1 Guide and Volume 2 Technical Man- 
ual. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1979. 


"Access to History." Historic Preservation 30 (3): 2-3 (1978). 

Artymowsky, Daniel. "A Calling and a Challenge: Working for the Handicapped 
at the Royal Castle in Warsaw." The International Journal of Museum Man- 
agement and Curatorship 5 (2): 159-62 (1986). 

Kenney, Alice P. "Open Door for the Handicapped." Historic Preservation 30 
(3): 12-17 (1978). 

James, Marianna S. "One Step at a Time: How Winterthur Approaches Program 
Accessibility." History News 36 (7): 10-15 (1981). bibliog. 

Walter, J. Jackson. "President's Note." An editorial on making the seventeen prop- 
erties of the National Trust for Historic Preservation accessible to the disabled. 
Historic Preservation 42 (3): 6 (1990). 


Books, reports, and guides 

"The Adapt Fund: Guidelines." In Adapt: Access for Disabled People to Arts 
Premises Today. Dunfermline, England: Carnegie United Kingdom Trust, 

Community Development Block Grant Report. Photocopy. (Available from the Na- 
tional Endowment for the Arts, 1989, 1992 [forthcoming]). 



Danilov, Victor J. Science and Technology Centers. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 
1982. 363 pp. 

Getting There: A Guide to Accessibility for Your Facility. Berkeley, Calif.: Center 
for Planning and Development Research, State of California Department of 
Vocational Rehabilitation, 1979. 

Funding Sources and Technical Assistance for Museums and Historical Agencies. 
Compiled by Hedy A. Hartman. Nashville, Tenn.: The American Association 
for State and Local History, 1979. 

Handicapped Funding Directory: A Guide to Sources of Funding in the United 
States for Handicapped Programs and Services for the Disabled. Seventh edi- 
tion. Margate, Fla.: Research Grant Guides, 1990. 

Management Policies. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior, Na- 
tional Park Service, 1988. 

Scott, Bruce H. Book of Renovations: A Compilation of Drawings Depicting the 
Most Common Problems and Solutions to Renovating Existing Buildings and 
Facilities to Make Them Accessible to and Usable by People with Physical Dis- 
abilities. Lawrence, Kans.: Kansas University, Research and Training Center 
on Independent Living, 1985. 

Trippett, Laurie. "The Accessibility Standards and Where to Find Them." In The 
Sourcebook 1992, pp. 55-82. Washington, D.C.: The American Association of 
Museums, 1992. 


Books, reports, and guides 

The American Institute of Architects. Design for Aging: An Architect's Guide. 
Washington, D.C.: The aia Press, 1986, 1987. 

American National Standards Institute. American National Standards Specifications 
for Making Buildings and Facilities Accessible to and Usable by Physically Hand- 
icapped People, no. A117.1 (rev. of ansi A117.1-1961). New York: American Na- 
tional Standards Institute, 1980. 68 pp. 

The Americans with Disabilities Act: Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and 
Facilities, 36 CFR Part 1191, Sept. 6, 1991. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Architec- 
tural and Transportaiton Barriers Compliance Board. 28 pp. 

Goldsmith, S. Designing for the Disabled. 3d ed. London: riba Publications, 1976. 

Kliment, Stephen A. Into the Mainstream: A Syllabus for a Barrier Free Envi- 
ronment. Washington, D.C.: The American Institute of Architects, 1975. 

Mace, Ronald L. Accessibility Modifications: Guidelines for Modification of Ex- 
isting Buildings for Accessibility to the Handicapped. Raleigh, N.C.: Barrier- 



Free Environments, for North Carolina Department of Insurance, Special 
Office for the Handicapped, 1976, 1979. 

Mace, Ronald L. Application of Basic Design Specifications. Washington, D.C.: 
The American Institute of Architects, 1978. 

Mace, Ronald L. et al. The Planners Guide to Barrier-Free Meetings. Waltham, 
Mass.: Barrier-Free Environments and Howard Russell Associates, 1980. 

Milner, Margaret. Opening Doors, A Handbook on Making Facilities Accessible to 
Handicapped People. Washington, D.C.: National Center for a Barrier Free 
Environment and Community Services Administration, 1978. 

Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards , 49 FR 31528 August 7, 1984. Washing- 
ton, D.C.: U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board. 
69 pp. 


Jones, Michael A., and John H. Catlin. "Design for Access." Progressive Archi- 
tecture: 65-70 (April 1978). 
Townsend, Sally. "Touch and See — Architecture for the Blind." Curator 18 (3): 

200-05 (1975) 
Vorreiter, Gabrielle. "Theatre of Touch." The Architectural Review, London (1108): 


Books, reports, and guides 

The ADA Handbook.Washington, D.C.: eeoc and the U.S. Dept. of Justice, 1991. 

Americans with Disabilities Act: ADA Compliance Guide. Washington, D.C.: Thomp- 
son Publishing Group, 1990. 

The Americans with Disabilities Act: From Policy to Practice. Edited by Jane West. 
New York: Milbank Memorial Fund, 1991. 360 pp. 

American with Disabilities Act of iggo: Law and Explanation. Chicago, 111.: Com- 
merce Clearing House, 1990. 

Americans with Disabilities Act Manual. Washington, D.C.: The Bureau of National 
Affairs, 1992. 

Catlin, John H, Loebl Schlossman, and Hackl, Inc. "Americans with Disabilities Act: 
Museum Compliance." In Legal Problems of Museum Administration: Course of 
Study Transcripts, cosponsored by The Smithsonian Institution with the Coop- 
eration of the American Association of Museums, pp. 381-86. Washington, D.C.: 
The American Law Institute, 1992. 

Cooke, Edmund D., and Peter S. Gray, eds. The Disability Law Reporter Service. 


Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall Law and Business, 1991. 

General Services Administration, Department of Defense, Department of Housing 
and Urban Development, and U.S. Postal Service. Uniform Federal Accessibility- 
Standards. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1988. 

Kamien, Janet, Amy Goldbas, and Susan Porter. Is There Life After 504? A Guide to 
Building and Program Accessibility. Boston: The Children's Museum, 1980, 1982. 
42 pp. 

National Center for Law and Deafness. "The Americans with Disabilities Act" and 
"Architectural Barriers' 1 in Legal Rights: The Guide for Deaf and Hard of Hear- 
ing People, pp. 15-46 and pp. 167-72. 4th ed. Washington, D.C.: Gallaudet Uni- 
versity Press, 1992. 297 pp. 

National Endowment for the Arts. The Arts and 504: A 504 Handbook for Accessi- 
ble Arts Programming. Raleigh, N.C.: Barrier- Free Environments, for the Na- 
tional Endowment for the Arts, 1985. 97 pp. (A twenty-two page companion pub- 
lication is the Program Evaluation Workbook, available from the National 
Endowment for the Arts, Office for Special Constituencies.) 

Naeve, Robert A. Managing ADA: The Complete Compliance Guide. New York: Wi- 
ley Law Publications, 1992. 

Regulations for Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Handicap under Section 504 of 
the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. 44 Fed. Reg. 22730, April 17, 1979 and 45 c.f.r., 
part 1 151. (Also available in large type for the visually impaired from the National 
Endowment of the Arts.) 

Summary of Existing Legislation Affecting Persons with Disabilities. Washington, 
D.C.: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabili- 
tative Services, Clearinghouse on the Handicapped, 1992. 

UFAS Retrofit Manual. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Architectural and Transportation 
Barriers Compliance Board, 1991. 


Kamien, Janet. "A Question of Accessibility." In special issue "Focus on the Disabled" 
edited by Susan N. Lehman with Janice Majewski. The Journal of Museum Ed- 
ucation: Roundtable Reports 6 (2): 5, 7 (1981). 

Molloy, Larry. "504 Regs: Learning to Live by the Rules." Museum News 57 (1): 28-33 

Molloy, Larry. "'The Case for Accessibility." Museum News 55 (3): 15-17 (1977). 

Molloy, Larry. "One Way to Comply with Section 504." Museum News 57 (4): 24-28 

Olsen, Marion. ''Programming and 504." Museum News 59 (4): 9, 11, 13-14, 16 (1981). 




Access Network for Museums, 33 

Accessibility, 8, 9, 14; architectural, 15, 
96, 106, 136; and budget, 114; built in, 
28, 36, 58, 62, 96; codes of, 96; com- 
mittee on, 101, 106; to community, 
136; construction cost, 62; in design, 
56, 59; as discipline, 11; economics of, 
59; of historic sites, 72; philosophy of, 
92; in planning, 56, 96; and 
renovation, 28; training in, 51 

ADA. See Americans with Disabilities 
Act (ADA) 

Adaptations, 150-50 

Advisory group, 24, 117, 120; Special 
Needs, no, 114 

Age-related disorders, 20, 59. See also 
Senior citizens- Older adults 

Agriculture, 78 

Alarcon, Dr. Molly, 58, 59, 62, 63 

Alcohol abuse, 20, 24 

Allen, Nettie, 74 

Alliance for Technology Access, 143 

Allied Arts, 34-41 

American Association of Museums, 8 

American Indians, 30, 80 

American Sign Language (ASL), 86, 89 

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 

9, 11, 12, 13 
Anacostia Neighborhood Museum, 38 
Animals, 28, 31, 144; adaptations of 156; 

close contact with, 80; compared 

with tools, 147; native habitats of, 

148; taxidermied, 21, 149; 

therapeutic effect of, 18-20, 22 
Aquarium of the Americas, 56-63, 106 
Arbor Fund, 65 
Archeological dig, 51-52 
Architects, 58, 133 

Architecture, 8, 13, 30, 34, 62, 72, 74 
Archives of Georgia Education, 38 
Armchair Slide Tours, 50 
Art, in, 125, 126; concepts of, 133- for 

everyone, no, 115; exhibitions of, 50; 

folk art, 127; Islamic, 133-34; 

principles of, 136; studio workshops, 

127, 130; tactile, 127, 139 
Art museum, 9, 14, 125. See also 

individual museums 
Artifacts, 28, 49 
Artist(s), 32, 108; in residence, 38, 41, 

127, 129 


Atlanta, 39 

Attitudes, 8, 9, 96 

Audio cassette/audio tapes 62, 108, 150. 

See also Blind; Visually impaired 
Auditorium, 101, 125 
Audubon Institute, 56, 59 
Autism, 20, 58, 62-63 
Aviation, 78 
Balance, 136, 138-39 
Baldwin County School System, 41 
Barrett, Kathy, 144-45 
Barriers, 8, free from, 56, no, 125. See 

also Accessibility. 
Bathrooms, 15, 18, 36, 71, 76, 80, no, 

125, 130-31; with cultural music, 28; 

door width, 130; grab bar in, 9; high 

tech, 62 
Behavior problems, 20, 21-22, 32 
Beverly Enterprises, 45 
Bevington, Jennifer, 42, 44 
Big Apple Circus, 32 
Bird refuges, 65, 69 
Black Women: Achievements Against 

the Odds, 38 
Blind person(s), 12; and aquarium, 62; 

art for, 126; classes for, 28; member 

of committee, 58; sculpture for. See 

sculpture; science for, 140; siren for, 

59; tours for, 96, 108. See also 

visually impaired 
Bloedel, Prentice and Virginia, 65 
Bloedel Reserve, 67-71 
Bloomer, Ray, 148 
Board of advisors, 129 
Bonds, 56 

Boston, 27, 28, 30, 108, 147 
Braille, 13, 18, 21, 53, 129 
Brecher, Kenneth, 30 

British Broadcasting Company, 12 
Brochure, for special visitors, 18, 102, 

129; poster, 105; type size in, 67, 101, 

108, no 
Brookfield Zoo, 18-25 
Brown, Tish, 125-26, 129 
Budget problems, 114 
Burkhalter, Barrie, 67 
Butler, Clyde, 56, 58, 59, 60, 62, 63 
Cafeteria, 92, no 
Caffarelli, Camille, 50 
California, Berkeley, 140. See also Los 

Angeles; San Francisco 
California Arts Council, 89 
California Palace of the Legion of 

Honor, 125 
California School for the Deaf, 86, 88 
Campers, 32, 38, 69-70 
Carnegie Museum, 44 
Center for Independent Living, 129 
Center for Multisensory Learning 

(cml), 140-41 
Central Blind Rehabilitation Center, 23 
Cerebral palsy, 154 
Chastain, Sharon, 133-35 
Chicago, 49-50, 51 
Chicago Zoological Park. See Brookfield 

Children, in, 113; apprenticeship for, 121; 

development of, 33; festival for, 32, 

39; latch-key, 39, 41 
Children of a Lesser God, 12 
Children's hospitals, 26 
Children's Museum (Boston), 24-33 
Cinatl, Mike, 134 

Circus, signed performance at, 32 
Codes, 8 
Gofer, Judith Ortiz, 41 


Cognitive disabilities, 95 

Communication skills, 40, 63, 142 

Community involvement, 59 

Comparable services, 15 

Computers, 140, 143, 154 

Concerts, signed, 71 

Coons, Valerie, 90, 92, 94, 96 

Coordination problems, 148 

Costume, 121 

County Fair, 83 

Crafts Tour, 82-83 

Culture(s), access to, 13; barriers to, 8; di- 
versity in, ill; teaching about, 33, 133 

Curbs, 28, 92. See also Ramps 

Davidson, Betty, 147, 149-50, DCCG. See 
Disabled Children's Computer 
Group (DCCG) 

De Lucchi, Linda, 142 

de Young, M. H. Memorial Museum, 

125, I3 1 
Deaf, 51, 58-59, 148; artistis, 89; classes 

for, 28, 134-35, 149 communications 

with, 60, 118; divergence among, 

12. See also hearing impaired; script 

for, 106, 150; telephone for, no; 

See also TT 

de Forest, Robert W., 13 

Delaware Association for the Blind, 96 

Delaware, Winterthur, 90 

DeLois, John, 127 

Design/designer, 9, 106 

Developmentally disabled, 101-05 

Development office, 106 

Diamond, Marian C, 140 

Dinosaurs, 42-44, 140 

Disabilities, 27, 32, 33, 59, 95; staff 
training on, 22, 95. See also 
interpreters, training of 

Disability groups, 12, 80, 118 
Disabled, 11, 12, 53; employment 

opportunities for, 14, 152 and senior 

citizens, 12, 126. See also special 

Disabled Children's Computer Group 

(DCCG), 143 
Disabled community, 67, no, 143 
Disabled persons, n, 12, 44, 63, 152; as 

visitors, 106, 120, 131 
Disabled Visitor Services, 102, 106 
Docents, 49, 83, 126, 133; camaraderie 

among, 44; senior citizens as, 45-47, 

82, no-ii; training for, 44-45, 50, 

105, 129, 134, 144 
Docents for the Deaf, 127 
"Does He Take Sugar?," 12 
Doors, 8, 28, 50, 62. See also Bathroom 
Drayton Hall, 72-77 
Drug abuse, 20, 24, 129 
Dyslexia, 31 
Duncan, Susan, 113 
DuPont, Henry Francis, 90; estate of, 

90, 96, 97 
Education programs, 9, 151; at 

elementary school, 143-44; for high 

school, 126; in hospitals, in; after 

school, 21, 41; 
Elderly. See Older adults; Senior 

Elevators, 11, 28, 50, 92 
Elliott, Maril, 67 
Employment, n-12, 62-63, 118; 

philosophy of, 56 
Emotional problems, 115, 154 
Entrance, no, 118, 148 
Epilepsy Foundation, 63 
Equality, n, 15 



Erb, Larry, 38 
Evaluation of programs, 24 
Evaluation Development Center (EDC), 

I5 2 , 154 
Exhibits, 96; accessibility of, 50, 118, 

126; creation of, 8, 150; dioramas, 
148, 150; and handicapped com- 
mittee, 59, 106; height of, 60, 96; 
installation of, 154; modification of, 
148; research on, 154; tactile tours, 
96; visual, 148; wheelchair 
accessible, 60; working, 78 

Farm environment, 78, 117 

Federal financial assistance, 11, 12 

Ferguson, Deborah, 41 

Ferguson, Tom, 38 

Field trips, 139 

Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, 85, 

I2 5-3! 
FitzGerald, Margie, 80, 81, 83 

Forest, 65, 78, 80 

Forman, Robert, 59 

Forstall, James, 58, 60 

Fort Worth, 133 

Fortenberry-Parkman farm, 78, 81-82 

Foundation for Children with Learning 

Disabilities, 33 
Fountain (drinking water), 62, 76, 80, 

125; wheelchair accessible, 18, 28 
Frank, Wendy, 32 
Friends of Allied Arts, 41 
Funding, 24 
Gallery/galleries, 96, no, 118, 133-34; 

guide to, 129 
Gannett Corporation, 105 
Garden(s), 65, 108 
General Electric, 145 
George, Alberta Sebolt, 118 

Georgia College, 38, 41 

Georgia Council for the Arts, 41 

Gift shops, 15 

Graphics, 60. See also Type size; Typeface 

Griffin, Mr. and Mrs. Floyd, 36 

Guides, 62, 120 

Guterman's House, 28, 30 

Guttman Foundation (Stella and 

Charles), 105 
Hanlon, Claudia, 102 
Hatano, Janet, 85-86, 88, 89 
Health, 30, 144-45 
Hearing impaired, 8, 20, 67, 72, 74, 83, 

85, in, 114, 133; captioned exhibits, 

60; interpreters for, 30-31, 60, 95; 

as Museum Ambassador, 126; signed 

performances for, 32; signed tours. 

See signed tours; workshops for, 133 
Hearing loss, 59 
Heggie, Bea, 85-88 
Heritage Center, 78, 80 
Hines Veteran Hospital, 23 
Hinton, Bill, 40 
Historic property, 34, 90 
Historical tradition, 78 
History museums, 80 
Hodas, Laurie, 129 
Hoffman, Paula, 70 
Horizons for the Blind, 50 
Horticulture, 90, 108 
House museum, 72 
Housing and Urban Development, 

Department of, 36 
Hudspeth Retardation Center, 80 
Huffman, Lorilee, 152, 154 
Illinois, Brookfield, 18; Carbondale, 152; 

Chicago. See Chicago Illinois Arts 

Council, 51 


Illinois Department of Rehabilitation, 154 
Ingram, Marilyn, 136 
Institute for Museum Services, 148 
Integrated programming, 92, 95 
Intergenerational program, in, 144-45 
Interpreters, 30-32, 76; availability 

of, 60, 70; historic, 121; training of, 31, 

Interpreting for the Deaf, 134 

Israel, 52-53 

Jackson, Mississippi, 78 

Jaffe, Deborah, 102, 105 

Japan, 30, 68 

Jewish life, 30, 49-50 

Jim Buck Ross Agriculture and 

Forestry /National Agricultural 

Aviation Museum, 78-83 
Job descriptions, 152-53 
Joffe, Eunice, 51 
Kahn, Louis I., 133 
Kimball, Mary, 67-68, 70-71 
Kimbell Art Museum, 132-39 
Kits, 142, 154 
Kitsap Handicapped Action 

Committee, 68 
Kolombatovic, Igor, 89 
Labels, Braille, 18, 53; for exhibits, 18, 

148-49; large print, no, 131, 149; 

standards for in museums, 106-07 
Larkin, Rosemary, 27 
Lavin, Meggett, 72, 77 
Lawrence Hall of Science, 140-45 
Lea, George, 38 
Learning and elderly, 45-47 
Learning disabilities, 8, 33, 95, in, 121 
Learning disabled/disordered, 52, 113, 

126, 142, 149 
Learning impaired, 67, 80, 83 

LeBrun, Joan, no 

Libraries, 28, ill, 152 

Lieb, Kathi, 49 

Lighthouse for the Blind, 69-70 

Lip reading, 13, 67 

Listening device, no 

Los Angeles, 42, 44, 47 

Louisiana Department of Public 

Health, 58 
Low-vision visitors, 126. See also 

Visually impaired; Blind 
Mainstreaming, 14, 15, 33, 142. See also 

Maintenance, 62, 118 
Majewski, Jan, 148 
Marcus, Susan, 51-53 
Marlor (Elizabeth) Bethune Art 

Gallery, 36 
Marlor (John) Arts Center, 34-41 
Marlor (John) House, 35-36 
Massachusetts, Boston. See Boston; 

Sturbridge, 117 
Masterick, Al, 41 
Mathematics, 140-42 
McKinney, Charlie, 74 
McLean, Robert, 58 
Medical problems, 42 
Mental disability, 12, 39, 95 
Mental retardation, 12, 20, 22, 23 
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 12-13, J oi-07 
Milaret, Gerald, 58 
Milaret, Ida, 58 

Milledgeville, City of, 36, 38, 41 
Milledgeville-Baldwin County Allied 

Arts, 34 
Mississippi Methodist Rehabilitation 

Center, 80 
Mississippi River, 58-59 



Mississippi Schools, 80, 83 
Mississippi State Hospital, 80, 81 
Mississippi State University, at 

Starkville, 83 
Mobility-impaired, 12, 67, 76, 148, 149 
Mobility training, 23 
Monet exhibit, 108 
Multiple sclerosis, 9 
Multi-sensory approach, 85-86, 151 
Museum, 8, 9; circulation routes 

through, 28; professionals, 15, 33 
Museum Ambassadors, 126 
Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), 108-16 
Museum of Science (Boston), 147-51 
Museums, 11; parties in, 15; public 

accommodations in, 12; receptions 

in, 15, 50; as resource to community, 

32; shop in, 63; total accessibility in, 

15; for training disabled people, 152; 

music, 13, 32, 71, 136 
"My Mommy Drives a Wheelchair," 27 
Mythology, 134 
National Braille Press, 108 
National Endowment for the Arts, 8, 72, 

74, 106 504 Regulations, 11-12, 13, 15 
National Historic Landmark, 72 
National Medical Enterprises, 45 
National Park Service, 148 
National Trust for Historic 

Preservation, 74 
Natural history, 28, 148 
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles 

County, 42-48 
Nature reserve, 65 
Neal, Jeanne, 108 
Neely, Cheryl, 136 
Neurological impairments, 12 
New England, 33, 117, 148, 150 

New Orleans, 56, 59 

New York State Office of Mental 

Retardation and Developmental 

Disabilities, 105 
Nisbet, Jack, 38 

Normalization. See Mainstreaming 
Nursing homes, 28, 82, no 
Oakland Museum, 84-89 
Office of Elder Affairs 

(Massachusetts), in 
Old Sturbridge Village, 33, 117-21 
Older adults, 9, 50, 80, 81; classes for, 

38; and disabled, 12; and labels, 107; 

outreach for, 42-44; as tour guides, 

no— ii; tours for, 49, 76. See also 

Senior Citizens 
Orthopedically disabled, 129, 142 
Ostenson, Patricia M., 67, 71 
Outreach, 24, 38, 42, 82, no, 
Paintings, 38, 130, 133 
Parking, 15, 18, 36, no 
Performing arts, 32, 36, 71 
Perkins School for the Blind, 147, 149 
Philip Morris Companies, Inc., 105 
Photographs, 36, 92, 94 
Physical accommodation, 8, 13 
Physical disability, 8, 20, 39 
Pierschalla, Michael, 114 
Pillsbury, Edmund, 136 
Polansky, David, 32 
Posell, Annette, 148 
Preservation, 72, 76 
Principle of Normalization in Human 

Services, 13-14 
Prinz, Betty Ann, 86 
Program for Visitors with Disabilities, 

Puppets, 32, 83 


Quadriplegic, 27 

Ramp(s), 9, 14, 15, 36, 38, 62, 68, 76, 

80, 96, 1 10; entrance, 131; grit strips 

on, 37; picture of, 127; at zoo, 18 
Redfern, Rusty, 39 
Redmond, Granville, 88, 89 
Rehabilitation, 89, 152-53 
Restaurants, 15, 18 
Retirement homes, 50, 82 
Revere, Paul, 91, 95 
Riveredge Hospital, 24 
Rivers Correctional Institute, 40 
Rosenbaum, Isabel, 45 
Rubin, Eleanor, 108, 110-11, 113, 114 
Safety, 20, 59 
Sampson, David, 36 
San Francisco, 125 
San Francisco Bay, 126, 129 
Schmedes, John, 38, 40 
Science, 38, 140, 143; museums of, 9, 140; 

science education, 33, 140-41, 144 
Science Activities for the Visually 

Impaired (SAVl), 140-41 
Science Enrichment for Learners with 

Physical Handicaps (SELPH), 142 
Science Teachers' Bureau, 28 
Sculpture, 13, 28, 127, 130; touchable, 

132, 139; for visually handicapped, 

113, 126 
Seattle Aquarium, 67 
Seizure (epilepsy), 63 
Self confidence/self esteem, 21, 40 
Self-Help for Hard of Hearing People, 

Inc., 74 
Senior citizens, 12, 38, 42, 50, 59, 82, 

143; Safari Tours for, 24. 

See Older adults. 
Senior Citizens Day, 82 

Sensory exhibits, 21, 22, 38, 120, 150 

Sheltered living, 12, 38 

Sign language, 12, 62, 85-86, 118; fairy 

tales in, 27, 32; interpreters, 60, 74, 

85, 88, 101, 114, 133-36 
Signed Exact English, 86 
Silver, Nona, 27, 30, 32, 33 
Smith, Marie and Stan, 89 
Smithsonian Institution, 38, 148 
Snyder, Betty, 36, 41 
South Carolina Association for the 

Deaf, 74 
Southern Arts Federation, 41 
Southern Ballet Theatre, 38 
Southern Illinois University, 152 
Special Audiences, Inc., 36 
Special education, 22, 101 
Special needs audiences, 20, 30-31, 

Special populations, 18, 20, 24, 56; 

inmates, 39, 40 
Speech problems, 67 
Spertus Museum of Judaica, 48-53 
Staff, integration of disabled persons 

into, 114-15; training for, 56, 67, 67, 

no, 118, 120 
Stair Trac, 77 
Steps, 28, 36, 38, 68, 92 
Stone, Sandra, 129-30 
Stride -Rite Day Care Center, in 
Strollers, 59, 131 
Tactile presentations, 21, 50, 60, 69, 

113, 127 
Tarrant County Junior College, 134-35 
TT, 63 

Teachers, 39-40, 142; training of, 33, 144 
Telephones, 12, 18, 28, 80, no 
Therapeutic recreation, 18, 21 



Todd, Lolly, 85-88 

Touch, boxes for, 21; objects, 14, 15, 138, 

149, 150; Touch-it- Room, 95 
Tours, 59, book of, 74, 94; for disabled 

group, 23, 102; guides for, 9, 69, 95; 

Leisure Tours, 49-50; recorded, 

101, no; scripts of, ioi; signed, 85; 

tactile, 23, 120; by touch, 13, 94, 

ioi; by tram, 95; translated, 76; 

written, 76 
Trade and travel booth, 52-53 
Trails, 68, 92, 96 
Training, 22, 63, 95, 120, 123, 142, 152, 

l hh-hh-> manual, 63 
Transportation, 19, 20, 25, 78; bus, 92; 

golf carts, 80, 82; mass transit, 11; 

scooter, 80, 82. 
Trieglaff, Mark, 18, 20, 21, 23 
TT (Telephone Text for hearing 

impaired people), 8, 28, 67 
Tubre, Charles, 56, 58, 59, 62, 63 
Turk, Gregor, 38 
Turnipseed, Dr. Georgia, 83 
Type size, 67, 106-07 
Typeface, 14, 74, 107 
United States, disabled in, 11 
University of California, at Berkeley, 

140; at Santa Cruz, 126 
University Museum (Southern Illinois 

University), 152-56 
Very Special Arts (VSA), 32, 38-39, 83 
Veterans, 23 
Video/videotape, 40, 149 
Vinson (Mary) Memorial Library, 

33-, 41 
Visitors' center, 65, 68, 71 

Visually impaired, 8, 9, 59, 108. See 
also Blind, art for, 113 audio casette 
for, 62, 67, 107; barnyard for, 80; 
drawing for, 37; and low lighting, 
92; and structure, 139; tour guides 
for, 63, 67, 69; tours for, 23, 31-32, 
77, 94, 96, 101, 108; touching 
artificats, 80, 81, 114, 115, 127, 149; 
workshops for, 136 

Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 

Vocational training, 24 

Volunteers, 24, 60, 110-11, 126; 

handbook for, 67; interpreter 60; 

older, 144; and science resources, 145; 

training for, 22, 63, 67, no, 113 
Washington (State), Bainb ridge Island, 

65; Library for the Blind, 67 
Water fountain. See Fountain (drinking 

Wheelchair, brochure, 18; and carpet, 

129; and elderly, 50; and elevator, 

50; employment of person in, 155; 

and exhibit area, 96; motorized, 80; 

paths for, 18, 96; routing for, 106; 

and tickets, 62; and tight space,92; 

tram for, 24; view from, 27, 148 
Wheelchairs, 28, 52, 59, 68, 125 
White, Eric, 117, 118, 120 
Wikstrom, Erik, 32 
Winterthur Museum, 90-97, 106 
Wise, Linden, 106 
Wolfensberger, Wolf, 14 
Women, 41, 49 
Writing, 38, 41, 52-53 
Zoo, 22, 23; See Brookfield Zoo 




1225 I $treet, Northwest 
Washington, D.C.^0005