This literature review contains relevant material across several disciplines taking into account inclusion with cultural spaces such as museums, libraries, and archives. Included are books, articles, and other resources on topics such as:
- The perspectives of disabled archivists, curators, librarians, and cultural conveners
- The disabled body as archive
- Accessibility and usability of cultural spaces as well as access to culture
- Labeling, terminology, and disability in tagging and subject categories in libraries, archives, and museums
- Finding disability (or not) within archives, libraries, and museums, including historical records, databases, and other systems
- Intersectionality within disability cultural spaces
- Documentation and preservation of disability culture, art, and history
- Include sensitive subjects such as institutionalization, trauma, eugenics, and/or genocide within cultural spaces
- The relationship of cultural inclusion to disciplines such as history, digital humanities, information science, art education, and more
Content Warning: Some materials may concern controversial subject matters; therefore, discretion is advised.
Adams, E. (2023). Teaching visual/material culture and museums in terms of disability access. In D. Libatique & F. McHardy (Eds.), Diversity and the study of antiquity in higher education: Perspectives from North America and Europe (pp. 100-109). New York: Routledge: DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003278016-9.
This chapter focuses on the British context, where the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) of 1995 obliged all public bodies, including museums, to make their services accessible to disabled people. This is relevant to other countries as well (for example, the 1990 Americans with Disability Act), and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) stands as a global statement on disability rights. The DDA includes duties for universities to adapt to students with disabilities. While this is best done on a case-by-case basis, the obligation is anticipatory, meaning that teachers should expect to cater for students with disabilities, rather than waiting to be notified and then responding appropriately. This has led to thinking about inclusive teaching, whereby the accessibility is present throughout the learning environment and may have benefits for all students. The process of making materials accessible involves thinking in depth about how we communicate and ways of learning. There is also the issue of representation. Given the tendency in HE disability services to assume that only students are likely to be disabled, pressure is placed on staff with invisible disabilities to mask them. There is therefore a lack of disabled role models in the sector, along with a tendency to view students solely as receivers of accessible content, rather than training them in the need to produce it as well.
Adler, M., Huber, J. T., & Nix, T. A. (2017, April). Stigmatizing disability: Library classifications and the marking and marginalization of books about people with disabilities. The Library Quarterly, 87(2), 117–135. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/690734.
Libraries have historically organized materials about people with disabilities according to conventions created by medical and social scientific communities, thereby reproducing dominant, often pathologizing and marginalizing discourses about disabilities. This paper focuses on libraries’ treatment of subjects related to physical disabilities by analyzing the National Library of Medicine’s Medical Subject Headings, Library of Congress Subject Headings, the Library of Congress Classification, and the Dewey Decimal Classification. We use the lens of stigma as first theorized by Erving Goffman to reveal some of the processes and practices by which materials are relegated to the margins on the shelves and in the catalog.
Ashmore, B., Grogg, J. E., & Rosen, H. (2020). An accessibility survey of libraries: Results, best practices, and next steps. The Serials Librarian, 78(1-4), 214-218. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/0361526X.2020.1703496.
Ensuring the accessibility of digital content is a priority for libraries. Digital collections continue to grow, and libraries seek feedback from users and use tools to diagnose and solve accessibility issues. As libraries grapple with this new landscape, they want to know where they stand amongst their peers, what mandates apply to their situations, and how library staff are being trained to address accessibility requirements, among other issues. In 2019, the LYRASIS consortium surveyed its large network of more than 1,000 member galleries, libraries, archives, and museums to discover how these member institutions are approaching accessibility. This paper represents highlights from that survey as well as examples of accessibility efforts from North Carolina State University Libraries.
Baumgartner, C. F. (2019). Bodies of knowledge: Politics of archive, disability, and fandom. In B. Liang & C. Duchastel de Montrouge (Eds.), Disability and/in/through Fanfiction [Special Issue]. Canadian Journal of Disability Studies, 8(2), 221–246. DOI: https://doi.org/10.15353/cjds.v8i2.499.
The work of critical theory cannot stop when it leaves the classroom, but must encompass the lived experience of the everyday. This essay combines personal narrative, disability theory, and a discussion of archiving strategies to question the boundaries of disability, injury and impairment.
Although fandom has an interesting and constructive relationship with disability, injury, and impairment, this paper does not focus on individual fan-works that feature these topics. This essay is instead an examination of the macro-structure of two different archives: TV Tropes and Archive of Our Own.
TV Tropes is an informal encyclopedia of narrative devices that uses community engagement to read narratives in a critical yet accessible way. Employing the macro-structure organization of the database, users frame the linkage of pity and disability in an atypical manner that subverts mainstream ableist assertions. This shows us that the structure of the archive allows for opportunities to resist oppressive ideologies. Rather than subverting official archival methods, Archive of Our Own instead provides space for users to create intersectional spaces through personally generated tags. While these websites are examples of how diverse archival strategies can positively engage with disability narratives, the decision to separate the labels of disability and injury is indicative of tensions around the categorization of the body. Examining how the division can be broken in both theory and fandom creates new, productive models of activism.
Bavi, A., & Gupta, N. (2022, December). Gamification of digital heritage as an approach to improving museum and art gallery engagement for blind and partially sighted visitors. Archaeologies, 18(3), 585–622. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11759-022-09461-2.
Digitization of heritage in art gallery and museum contexts raises ethical concerns around ownership, consent, and use. It also highlights fundamental issues of access and engagement for blind and partially sighted (BPS) visitors, especially elders. Gamification, which refers to the use of game elements and game design techniques, such as user feedback and additive levels of progress in non-game contexts, has been used to improve heritage pedagogy, accessibility for and engagement with museum and art gallery visitors. This paper examines collaborative efforts in digital heritage that engage with BPS visitors from historically excluded communities, thereby addressing their traditional exclusion from experiential learning in museum and art gallery settings. In this ethical framework, we use 3D printed models to demonstrate how gamification can play an essential role in providing BPS visitors in museum and art galleries an incentive to engage with the digital and physical archives, guiding them in experiential learning, and enabling new insights into their heritage. Fulsome implementation of 3D models as gamified objects can improve viewership, sharing, learning, and open discussion on redress for BPS members of historically excluded groups when it comes to their heritage. Gamification of digital heritage can enable a more diverse group of visitors to fully participate in the museum and art gallery experience.
Brilmyer, G. (2018). Archival assemblages: Applying disability studies’ political/relational model to archival description. Archival Science, 18, 95-118. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10502-018-9287-6.
This paper critically explores power structures embedded in archival description and re-conceptualizes archives and archival material as assemblages of politicized decisions specifically by utilizing Alison Kafer’s political/relational model of disability as a framework. Kafer’s model draws upon previous models of disability to open up contestation and politicization of disability as a category. This approach acknowledges that concepts of disability always already intersect with notions of race, class, age, gender, and sexuality. This article argues that cross-informing archival studies and feminist disability studies illuminates the long history that records creation and description processes have in documenting, surveilling, and controlling disabled and other non-normative bodies and minds. Furthermore, a political/relational approach makes possible the illumination of archival assemblages: the multiple perspectives, power structures, and cultural influences—all of which are temporally, spatially, and materially contingent—that inform the creation and archival handling of records. Through close readings of multiple records’ descriptions, both inside and outside of disability, this paper focuses on the complexity of language and its politics within disability communities. A political/relational approach first promotes moving away from the replication and reliance on self-evident properties of a record and second advocates for addressing—not redressing—contestable terms, both of which illuminate the archival assemblages which produced it. By embracing the contestation of disability, and therefore the corresponding ways in which it is represented in archives, archivists and archives users are able to perceive and challenge the ways in which norms and deviance are understood, perpetuated, and constructed in public narratives via archives. Existing at the intersection of disability studies, feminist discourse, and archival studies, this paper builds theory around archival description and radicalizes traditional approaches to understanding normativized constructs within archives as it encourages reflexivity and shifts power relations.
Brilmyer, G. (2020, Fall). Towards sickness: Developing a critical disability archival methodology. In J. Waggoner & A. Mog (Eds.), Visionary Politics and Methods in Feminist Disability Studies [Special Issue]. Journal of Feminist Scholarship, 17, 26-45. DOI: https://doi.org/10.23860/jfs.2020.17.03.
Although archival records on disability—such as medical, institutional, and freak show records—can facilitate in telling one side of disability history, these records often omit the voices of disabled people. Considering the abundance of such documentation as well as how sick and disabled people may be difficult to locate in historical records, this article trains a critical lens on archival absences and partialities. By foregrounding the experiences of sick and disabled writers, activists, artists, and scholars alongside critical disability studies, this article conceptualizes “sickness” to develop a critical disability archival methodology. By illuminating the various ways in which sickness and disability can be unknowable and fluctuating, this article addresses the multiple, often illegible, layers of absences, subtleties, inaccuracies, and perspectives that are embodied in records, archives, and the lack thereof. A critical disability archival methodology underscores not only the multiple systems—social, institutional, colonial etc.—that have produced records about disabled people, but also the granular ways in which such values and absences are also created and embodied within archives and their processes. This methodology therefore provides a framework for both archivists and archival users to work in solidarity with sick and disabled communities in addressing archival representation.
Brilmyer, G. (2022, Fall/Winter). “They weren’t necessarily designed with lived experiences of disability in mind”: The affect of archival in/accessibility and “emotionally expensive” spatial un/belonging. In J. Douglas, M. Ballin, J. Lapp, & S. Ahmadbeigi (Eds.), Toward Person-Centred Archival Theory and Praxis [Special Issue]. Archivaria, 94, 120-153.
Using semi-structured interviews with disabled archival users and building on the emerging field of critical access studies, this article illustrates the ways in which archival spaces and their in/accessibility affectively impact disabled people. Interviewees describe how they experience barriers to accessibility not only at a basic, architectural level – of not being able to get into a building or archives room – but also through archives’ policies and expectations regarding the ways in which archival work is done. The way that accessibility is implemented, even beyond legal compliance, greatly impacts the extent to which disabled researchers feel they belong in archival spaces. Inaccessibility, this research shows, produces a sense of unbelonging; the deprioritization of disability both as a subject or organizing category and as an identity of a potential researcher, shows disabled people that they do not belong in archival spaces, and this is further complicated for multiply marginalized disabled people. By examining the multifaceted ways that disabled people experience inaccessibility, this article focuses on the “emotionally expensive” aspects of inaccessibility to emphasize the ways in which barriers compound and accumulate and can prevent disabled people from accessing our own histories. These findings demonstrate how central accessibility is to disabled people’s lives: it is almost impossible to talk about our experiences of archival materials and history without discussing how we navigate the multiple barriers to accessing them.
Brilmyer, G.M. (2022). “I’m also prepared to not find me. It’s great when I do, but it doesn’t hurt if I don’t”: Crip time and anticipatory erasure for disabled archival users. Archival Science, 22(2), 167–188. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10502-021-09372-1.
Using data collected through semi-structured interviews with disabled archival users, this article foregrounds disabled people’s relationships with time, specifically to pasts and representations thereof in archival material. It illustrates the ways in which disabled people use their knowledge of how disability is understood—in archives and in society—to anticipate their erasure in archival material. First, focusing on the past, this data illustrates the prevalence of disability stereotypes, tropes, and limited perspectives within the records that document disabled people. Second, in witnessing such representations (or lack thereof), disabled researchers described how they are affectively impacted in the present moment: witnessing the violence of the past is emotionally difficult for many disabled people researching their histories. Third, using past experiences of archival erasure, interviewees described coming to expect and anticipate future absences—anticipation as an affective mode helped them prepare to encounter forms of erasure, to protect themselves against possible harms, and to hope for something different, all of which reflects their experiences of how disability is understood in society. This data reflect the way anticipation is a central facet of crip time—the multiple ways that disabled people experience time, pace, and temporal moments—to show how disabled people feel through multiple temporal landscapes and approach historical and archival representation.
Brilmyer, G. M. (2022). Toward a crip provenance: Centering disability in archives through its absence. Journal of Contemporary Archival Studies, 9, Art. 3.
Using the records that document the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition as a case study, this article discusses the messiness and unknowability of provenance. Drawing attention to how the concept of provenance can emphasize the reconstruction of a fonds when records have been moved, rearranged, and dispersed, this article draws attention to the ‘curative’ and ‘rehabilitative’ orientations of established notions of provenance. Put in conversation with disability studies scholarship, which critiques rehabilitating, curing, and restoring, this article outlines the theoretical scaffolding of a crip provenance: a disability-centered framework of resisting the desire to restore and instead meets records where they are at. By acknowledging archival realities (where provenance is messy, partial, rumored, or nonexistent), this article emphasizes relationships that exist precisely because records are always already dispersed, duplicated, and partial. A crip provenance highlights four central facets of archival and crip relationships—people, systems, materials, and spaces—as a way to grapple with archival realities and tell disability history when there is little or no evidence of disabled people. Together these facets demonstrate how a crip provenance opens up multiple avenues for addressing disability in history: from highlighting moments of living disabled people experiencing archival material to expansive tangential histories that connect language and materials to politics and ableism within the colonial history of the Exposition.
Brophy, S., & Hladki, J. (2014). Cripping the museum: Disability, pedagogy, and video art. Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies, 8(3), 315-333. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3828/jlcds.2014.25.
In November 2010, there was a conference on “Health, Embodiment, and Visual Culture” at McMaster University and an exhibition called “Scrapes: Unruly Embodiments in Video Art” at the McMaster Museum of Art. This article pursues the idea and implications of “scrapes” and “to scrape”: as a framework of disturbance and rupture; for knowing differently from a crip perspective; and for cripping museological praxis. Engaging closely with the visual and aural poetics, and critical activist rhetorics of the video works, the argument is that their unruly embodiments generate a mutually informing unsettlement of ableist, heteronormative, and neocolonial relations. The article also reflects critically on the potential to crip the museum when the exhibition’s video art archive rubs up against the regulatory mechanisms and the neoliberal model of diversity in the un-cripped university.
Broughton, J. (2023). That all may read: National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled. Public Services Quarterly, 19(1), 77-81. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/15228959.2022.2152153.
This article details the services the US Library of Congress’ National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled provides and the ongoing efforts it makes to modernize and keep pace with technological changes in the delivery of information services to people with temporary or permanent low vision, blindness, or a physical or reading disability that prevents them from using regular print materials.
Brunskill, A. (2021). Disability studies research literature: It’s (mostly) not where we think. portal: Libraries and the Academy, 21(1), 81-97. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1353/pla.2021.0006.
There are currently no databases dedicated to indexing the research literature for disability studies. To identify which databases have more robust indexing of the literature of this field, the author compiled a list of relevant journals and searched for them in databases either frequently recommended in libraries’ disability studies research guides or indicated by Ulrich’s data to index a high number of the journals. Notable disconnects were found between frequently recommended databases and those with substantial indexing of disability studies journals. Challenges for research in this field were also encountered and documented, including inadequate indexing, particularly for open access journals.
Cachia, A. (Ed.). (2022). Curating access: Disability art activism and creative accommodation. New York: Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003171935.
This book is an interdisciplinary collection of twenty-four essays which critically examine contemporary exhibitions and artistic practices that focus on conceptual and creative aspects of access. Oftentimes exhibitions tack on access once the artwork has already been executed and ready to be installed in the museum or gallery. But what if the artists were to ponder access as an integral and critical part of their artwork? Can access be creative and experimental? And furthermore, can the curator also fold access into their practice, while working collaboratively with artists, considering it as a theoretical and practical generative force that seeks to make an exhibition more engaging for a wider diversity of audiences? This volume includes essays by a growing number of artists, curators, and scholars who ponder these ideas of ad-hoc, experimental and underground approaches within exhibition-making and artistic practices. It considers how, through these nascent exhibition models and art practices, enhanced experiences of access in the museum can be a shared responsibility amongst museum workers, curators, and artists, in tandem with the public, so that access becomes a zone of intellectual and creative “accommodation,” rather than strictly a discourse on policy. The book provides innovative case studies which provide a template for how access might be implemented by individuals, artists, curators, museum administrators and educators given the growing need to offer as many modalities of access as possible within cultural institutions. This book shows that anyone can be a curator of access and demonstrates how to approach access in a way that goes beyond protocol and policy. It will thus be of interest to students and scholars engaged in the study of museums, art history and visual culture, disability, culture, and communication.
Cartwright, R. L. (2020). Out of sorts: A queer crip in the archive. In N. A. Swaby, C. Frank, & Y. Gunaratnam (Eds.), Archives [Special Issue]. Feminist Review, 125(1), 62-69. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0141778920911936.
“Since the archive and other ‘built spaces’ of disability studies have potential to become sites of ‘renewed struggle’ for the field (Burch and Patterson, 2013, p. 132), it is vital for archive stories to be woven with crip knowledge” (p. 125).
Castelli Rodriguez, L. (2020). Memories from the body-archive among people with disabilities. Nómadas, 52, 183-197. DOI: https://doi.org/10.30578/nomadas.n52a11.
The article invites us to think about the past time of people with disabilities by merging categories like body and memory. It presents the body as a sensitive archive that produces multiple horizons of the past and by the making of public memories, it challenges the established point of view about this population. Some of the conclusions are that there is a link between social memory and corporal normalization, that what is socially bearable in the stories of people with disabilities is linked to their social position, and that it is necessary to disarm the obvious.
Ciaccheri, M. C. (2022). Museum accessibility by design: A systemic approach to organizational change. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers / American Alliance Of Museums
What does museum accessibility mean today? How can it generate impact in museums and in society itself? Where should we begin to take concrete action?
Museum Accessibility by Design: A Systemic Approach to Organizational Change guides readers through the process of designing a museum accessibility strategy. Real world examples, tools, and resources foster implementation.
This book offers a comprehensive exploration of museum accessibility, with
- an up-to-date and critical survey of the discipline;
- a detailed, step-by-step guide on how to set up a rigorous and effective process that promotes accessibility throughout the museum institution;
- tools and suggestions for rethinking accessibility and usability for a diverse range of museum visitors;
- international case studies and best practices; and
- a full accessibility training course with activities and exercises aimed at fostering an accessible mindset within any institution.
An engaging and accessible resource for university students, museum professionals and researchers, this book speaks to museum professionals of all types, from those just starting out to seasoned experts looking for a comprehensive, multi-faceted look at museum accessibility.
Clark, J. L., & Lischer-Katz, Z. (2023). (In)accessibility and the technocratic library: Addressing institutional failures in library adoption of emerging technologies. In G. Brilmyer & C. Lee (Eds.), This Feature Has Been Disabled: Critical Intersections of Disability and Information Studies [Special Issue]. First Monday, 28(1&2). DOI: https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v28i1.12928.
Since 2015, there has been a rapid increase in academic libraries focusing their services on artificial intelligence (AI), immersive technologies (XR), big data, and other technologies that align their interests with corporations in the tech industry. However, there are broad ethical failures within this industry that libraries are not equipped to manage and instead risk importing those failures and discriminatory thinking into library services and technologies. This paper draws on the authors’ research on XR accessibility in academic libraries to illustrate how broader trends in technocratic thinking in academia are producing socio-technical configurations that often exclude disabled library users. It argues that critical failures in designing and implementing accessibility programs for emerging technologies in academic libraries point to the broader technocratic imperatives of contemporary universities operating under the logics of neoliberalism. Accessibility is an afterthought in this context, forcing users to adjust their bodies and senses to conform to the master plans of technology designers and evangelists.
Crawford, L. (2022). Emancipatory archival methods: Exploring the historical geographies of disability. Area Early Review. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/area.12844.
This paper focuses on the use of emancipatory research principles in archival research and contends with the suitability of academic conventions that characterise ethical practice when the research goal is to elevate the voices of marginalised historical groups. Drawing on a case study of Le Court Cheshire Home, England (1948–1975) to address a critical gap in the literature, I highlight some ethical dilemmas I encountered when working at the nexus of historical geography and geographies of disability. This paper demonstrates what an emancipatory research approach means for an archival study of disability, using examples to illustrate how ethical decisions impacted all stages of the research design and the write-up of findings. I argue that ethics should not be envisaged solely as an approval process completed at the project’s outset. Rather, the explorative nature of archival research necessitates that ethics should be an iterative undertaking, with archival sources having the potential to shape both the content and conduct of the research.
Creed, C., Al-Kalbani, M., Theil, A., Sarcar, S., & Williams, I. (2023). Inclusive augmented and virtual reality: A research agenda. International Journal of Human–Computer Interaction. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/10447318.2023.2247614.
Augmented and virtual reality experiences present significant barriers for disabled people, making it challenging to fully engage with immersive platforms. Whilst researchers have started to explore potential solutions addressing these accessibility issues, we currently lack a comprehensive understanding of research areas requiring further investigation to support the development of inclusive AR/VR systems. To address current gaps in knowledge, we led a series of multidisciplinary sandpits with relevant stakeholders (i.e., academic researchers, industry specialists, people with lived experience of disability, assistive technologists, and representatives from disability organisations, charities, and special needs educational institutions) to collaboratively explore research challenges, opportunities, and solutions. Based on insights shared by participants, we present a research agenda identifying key areas where further work is required in relation to specific forms of disability (i.e., across the spectrum of physical, visual, cognitive, and hearing impairments), including wider considerations associated with the development of more accessible immersive platforms.
Davies, J.E. (2007). An overview of international research into the library and information needs of visually impaired people. Library Trends, 55(4), 785-795. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1353/lib.2007.0039.
The background to general user needs assessment, including its value in service design and development, and the range of applicable methodologies is discussed. The diverse nature of users is recognized and the inappropriateness of a “one size fits all” approach is emphasized, with particular reference to visually impaired people. The place of research in supporting an evidence-based approach to service design and development is noted. A contextual section identifies some of the drivers that underpin appropriate and adequate provision to visually impaired people. They include legislation, international conventions, and codes of practice. Key features of the research agenda are identified. Much of the recent research relating to user needs coalesces around the theme of information technology, particularly the Internet, and assistive technology; another component of the research agenda comprises investigation of the general needs of visually impaired people in achieving a fulfilling lifestyle that includes access to information and libraries. Selected examples of completed research work from different countries are described in terms of scope, methods, and outcomes. An assessment of the need for future research concludes the article.
Duff, W., Sporn, J., & Herron, E. (2019). Investigating the impact of the Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada. Archivaria 88, 122-161.
The Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada is an online resource for community engagement and historical awareness with a particular emphasis on empowering survivors of state-enforced sterilization. This article reports on a qualitative impact study that reflects on secondary literature and interviews with 14 project participants to assess the extent to which the Living Archives impacted its members (including scholars, students, community partners, and survivors) and fulfilled its own stated goals (knowledge mobilization, research, and disability activism). While some of these impacts initially appear limited, the article, using the lenses of community archives, social justice impact, ethic of care, and critical disability studies, explores how the Archives counters the symbolic annihilation attempted by eugenic discourses and programs by giving both voice and editorial autonomy to survivors of Alberta’s sterilization program. The Living Archives project also developed a strong network of academics, activists, community members, and survivors, who modelled ways in which archival pursuits can successfully draw on an ethics of care. This article suggests that the Living Archives project should serve as a model for other digital archival projects to emulate.
Eikelenboom, M., Roos, W., & De Vet, M. (2019). Listening with your eyes: An accessible museum for deaf and hard-of-hearing visitors. The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, 12(3), 51-64. DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/1835-2014/CGP/v12i03/51-64.
Accessibility is high on the agenda of Dutch museums, especially since the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In this article, the Van Gogh Museum shares how accessibility has been tackled organization-wide. How does the integrated approach to accessibility throughout the organization work? As a case study, the museum presents the developments in the field of accessibility for deaf and hard-of-hearing visitors. This started with research carried out by Roos Wattel (Wat Telt!) about the needs of this particular target group. After this, action was taken toward the production of a multimedia guide in sign language. The museum shares research results and practical tips and tricks toward an inclusive museum sector.
Fortuna, J., Harrison, C., Eekhoff, A.,, Marthaler, C., Seromik, M., Ogren, S., & VanderMolen, J. (2023). Identifying barriers to accessibility for museum visitors who are blind and visually impaired. Visitor Studies. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/10645578.2023.2168421.
For people with visual impairment, environmental features create barriers to inclusion and participation in public places such as museums. This study gathered direct feedback on accessibility from people with visual impairment to inform a major renovation at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. This study used a participatory action research design. Data collection included a guided walk and semi-structured interviews. A descriptive numerical summary and qualitative thematic analysis were used to summarize the results. Twelve participants were assigned to three categories of visual impairment: low vision, legally blind, and totally blind. The primary barriers to accessibility included inaccessible signage, lack of multi-sensory information, and staff training. Suggestions for improving accessibility include adding assistive technology and increased staff involvement. Identifying barriers to accessibility requires involving people with visual impairment in the decision making process. Understanding the unique needs of people with visual impairment will promote inclusion and participation in museum settings.
Fortuna, J. K., Thomas, K., Asper, J., Matney, L., Chase, K., Ogren, S., & VanderMolen, J. (2023). A survey of universal design at museums: Current industry practice and perceptions. The Open Journal of Occupational Therapy, 11(1), 1-15. DOI: https://doi.org/10.15453/2168-6408.1994.
Museums are key educational and cultural resources in the community, yet many are not accessible to visitors with disabilities. Universal design promotes products and environments usable to the greatest extent possible by all people, regardless of ability. This study explores current industry practice and perceptions of accessibility and universal design in a small sample of American museums. Suggestions for how occupational therapists can help museums go above and beyond ADA guidelines are provided. An 17-item cross-sectional survey was used to collect data. Twenty-five museum associations assisted with recruitment. A descriptive numerical summary and qualitative analysis were used to summarize the results. Sixty respondents participated in the survey. Accommodations for visitors with visual impairment and physical barriers created by historical buildings were identified as both challenges and successes by the respondents. Confusion between ADA standards and universal design was evident in several responses. The most frequently reported accessibility rating was good. Staff training and community-based partnerships are important, but often overlooked practices for improving accessibility. Local agencies who serve people with disabilities are underused resources in the community. There is a potential role for occupational therapists to assist museums with staff training, recruiting people with disabilities, and establishing community partnerships. Additional research is warranted.
Garcia Carrizosa, H., Sheehy, K., Rix, J., Seale, J., & Hayhoe, S. (2020). Designing technologies for museums: Accessibility and participation issues. Journal of Enabling Technologies, 14(1), 31-39. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1108/JET-08-2019-0038.
Purpose: This paper aims to report the findings of a systematized literature review focusing on participatory research and accessibly in the context of assistive technologies, developed for use within museums by people with sensory impairments or a learning disability. The extent and nature of participatory research that occurs within the creation of technologies to facilitate accessible museum experiences is uncertain, and this is therefore a focus of this paper.
Design/methodology/approach: This paper is a systematized literature review and subsequent thematic analysis.
Findings: A screening of 294 research papers produced 8 papers for analysis in detail. A thematic analysis identified that the concept of accessibly has nuanced meanings, underpinned by social values; the attractiveness of a technology is important in supporting real-life usability; and that the conceptualization of participation should extend beyond the end users.
Social implications: The argument is made that increasing the participation of people with sensory impairments and learning disabilities in the research process will benefit the design of technologies that facilitate accessibility for these groups.
Originality/value: An original notion of participation has emerged from this review. It includes the participation and goals of disabled people but has expanded the concept to encompass museum personnel and indeed the physical and social spaces of the museums and heritage sites themselves. This constructs a broad of participation, with different aspects being reflected across the review’s research papers.
Gibson, A., Bowen, K., & Hanson, D. (2021, February 24). We need to talk about how we talk about disability: A critical quasi-systematic review. In the Library with the Lead Pipe.
This quasi-systematic review uses a critical disability framework to assess definitions of disability, use of critical disability approaches, and hierarchies of credibility in LIS research between 1978 and 2018. We present quantitative and qualitative findings about trends and gaps in the research, and discuss the importance of critical and justice-based frameworks for continued development of a liberatory LIS theory and practice.
In the Library with the Lead Pipe is an open access, open peer reviewed journal founded and run by a team of librarians working in various types of libraries.
Gissen, D. (Ed.). (2019, Summer). Disability and Preservation [Special Issue]. Future Anterior, 16(1).
“’Disability and Preservation’ brings together work by preservationists, curators, and historians who explore the history and future maintenance of cultural artifacts through histories, representations, and experiences of human impairment. As the authors in this issue demonstrate, disability permeates the built environment and histories of preservation in extensive and unexpected ways. One can easily recover it as a central aspect of the history of architecture and cities. Preservation and impairment extends to much more than just an interaction between disabled individuals and a preconceived idea of heritage or the problem of accessibility, as substantial as that problem is. Rather, in the pages that follow, we witness disability as a fundamental feature of the materials, construction, and imagery of the built environment, one that has the capacity both to disrupt the architectural past as well as to make us rethink how to represent that past. In other words, one of the aspects of many monuments’ authenticity is their deep relationship to disability— something often eliminated in the preservation of these sites. Furthermore, many disabled students of architecture, me included, have typically experienced the history of architecture through the lens of historic preservation practices. Therefore, the field of preservation has the capacity to either promote or inhibit the larger diversification of the field of architecture more generally.
The contributions in this issue not only revisit several key themes in preservationist discourse but also provide a deeper understanding of the ultimate role that impairment contributes to material history and its maintenance. Thus this issue includes a wide variety of essays—from early architecture preservation efforts designed around education initiatives for deaf children to contemporary curators bringing disability aesthetics into displays of historic artifacts. As these essays demonstrate, understanding disability and preservation together enables us to challenge many of our ideas about architecture history— its architects, builders, users, and beholders— and the aesthetics of history embedded in preservation practices” (p. iii)
This special issue features an introduction, a book review, and the following articles:
- Exhibiting Trauma: The Berlin Painting and Sculpture Collections Seventy Years after World War II, a Curatorial Reflection
- “Commercial Battles of Self-Support”: Concrete Construction and the Disabled World War I Veteran
- Whose Heritage? Architectural Preservation and Disabled Access in Boston and San Francisco
- More than Meets the Eye: Georgina Kleege
- Conversion, Renovation, Restoration: The Paris Deaf Institute, 1760-1840
- >Banking on Postmodernism: Saving Stanley Tigerman’s Illinois Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (1978)
- The Radical Accessibility of Video Art (for Hearing People)
González-Herrera, A.I., Díaz-Herrera, A.B., Hernández-Dionis, P. et al. (2023). Educational and accessible museums and cultural spaces. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 10, Art. 67. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/s41599-023-01563-8.
Offering access to culture and education to all citizens is a challenge nowadays, inclusive and accessible spaces are increasingly necessary if we really want to offer equal opportunities to all people regardless of their condition, physical or health. This systematic review study aims to investigate the situation of accessibility in museums and other cultural spaces as alternative learning spaces. It analyzes the historical evolution of cultural spaces as learning spaces and analyzes the reality of these spaces in terms of their accessibility conditions. For this purpose, an exhaustive search of documents was carried out between 2015 and 2021, following the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses) statement, from the Web of Science (WOS), Scopus and Dialnet databases. After the analysis and application of selection criteria, a total of 17 documents were found that show the transformation of these cultural spaces, the improvement of their accessibility and adaptation to the new times. The need to offer cultural spaces for all is a challenge that must be consolidated as a social value.
Graham, H., Green, V., Headon, K., Ingham, N., Ledger, S., Minnion, A., Richards, R., & Tilley, L. (2020). The public and the relational: the collaborative practices of the Inclusive Archive of Learning Disability History. In S. Popple, A. Prescott, & D. H. Mutibwa (Eds.), Communities, archives and new collaborative practices [Connected Communities Series] (pp. 219–234). Bristol, UK: Bristol University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctvx1hvvd.22.
This book’s title—Communities, Archives and New Collaborative Practices—raises the question of who or what is collaborating. The reading of the title most immediately available might be that the collaboration is between communities and those that work in archives. Yet we want to focus on another type of collaboration here, one that is equally crucial in developing new collaborative practices for archives. In a recent action research project to develop an Inclusive Archive of Learning Disability History, it became clear that in seeking to produce an archive we needed to conceive of collaboration not only in terms of people but also in terms of a collaboration between different political theories. In developing the Inclusive Archive, we recognised that we needed to seek a collaborative relationship between the political ideas derived from public political logics – public service, public sphere, ‘on behalf of the public’ and for posterity – and those that derive from relational and personal-centred politics. While there was constant debate in the team with some of us favouring one set of political logic and some the other, we realised that for an archive to be an archive, and for it to be an inclusive one, we needed to develop an approach to archival practice that held both the public and the relational political traditions in dialogue. Both political traditions have a history of being very effectively expressed in the learning disability self-advocacy movement as speaking up and being heard, and of arguing for services to start with the individual by being more ‘person-centered’ (Brownlee-Chapman et al. 2017). The task of our archive was to explore fruitful combinations and collaborations between the two political traditions.
Gross, K. M., & Keifer-Boyd, K. (2022). Pedagogical encounters with the Indigeneity & Disability Justice Art Exhibition. In A. Allen, C. Penketh, & A. Wexler (Eds.), Thematic Issue on Disability Justice: Decentering Colonial Knowledge, Centering Decolonial Epistemologies. Research in Arts and Education, 2022(3), 48–57. DOI: https://doi.org/10.54916/rae.125085.
Curricular encounters with the work of artists invited to be part of an online and ongoing exhibition, Indigeneity & Disability Justice Art, for the 3rd International Conference on Disability Studies, Art, and Education is the focus of this essay. The authors introduce pedagogical art encounters with the art in the exhibition to engage teachers and learners in the complexity of multiple layers of personal experiences of disability situated within systemic colonialist structures that reinforce ableism and hierarchies of power.
Guffey, E. (2015). The Disabling Art Museum. Journal of Visual Culture, 14(1), 61-73. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1470412914565965.
This article examines museums and their furnishing, arguing that benches, seats and the very notion of comfort have a disabling or enabling function. A little studied aspect of visuality in museums, furniture admits some visitors and not others. Using New York’s Museum of Modern Art as the basis for its critique, the author gives an impressionistic account of how furnishing and comfort shape the museum visitor’s experience, but also reflect broader conceptions of the museum’s role in society.
Hardesty, J., & Nolan, A. (2021, September). Mitigating bias in metadata: A use case using Homosaurus linked data. Information Technology and Libraries, 40(3). DOI: https://doi.org/10.6017/ital.v40i3.13053.
Controlled vocabularies used in cultural heritage organizations (galleries, libraries, archives, and museums) are a helpful way to standardize terminology but can also result in misrepresentation or exclusion of systemically marginalized groups. Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) is one example of a widely used yet problematic controlled vocabulary for subject headings. In some cases, systemically marginalized groups are creating controlled vocabularies that better reflect their terminology. When a widely used vocabulary like LCSH and a controlled vocabulary from a marginalized community are both available as linked data, it is possible to incorporate the terminology from the marginalized community as an overlay or replacement for outdated or absent terms from more widely used vocabularies. This paper provides a use case for examining how the Homosaurus, an LGBTQ+ linked data controlled vocabulary, can provide an augmented and updated search experience to mitigate bias within a system that only uses LCSH for subject headings.
Hill, H. (2013, April). Disability and accessibility in the library and information science literature: A content analysis. Library & Information Science Research, 35(2), 137-142. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lisr.2012.11.002.
The library profession is a strong and vocal proponent of increased information access for people with disabilities. With the discipline’s longstanding interest in the subject of services to people with disabilities, questions arise about how the profession perceives the phenomenon. How is library and information science (LIS), as a discipline, conceptualizing disability and accessibility? A content analysis of the LIS literature was conducted to examine this question. The literature provides a fertile ground for study as it reflects the profession’s approaches to, and perceptions of, a topic. This research identifies the major issues and trends in the research about accessibility and disability in the LIS literature throughout a 10-year period, 2000–2010. The strongest theme in the literature is accessibility as it relates to web, database, and software, while the prevailing disability of focus is visual disabilities. The overall environment emphasizes technology more than attitudinal aspects associated with disabilities. The research could benefit from increased direct participation of people with disabilities.
Hollich, S. (2020). What it means for a disabled librarian to “pass”: An autoethnographic exploration of inclusion, identity, and information work. In K. M. Thompson (Ed.), Engaging Disability: Social Science Perspectives on Information and Inclusion [Special Issue]. The International Journal of Information, Diversity, & Inclusion, 4(1), 94-107. DOI: https://doi.org/10.33137/ijidi.v4i1.32440.
Through autoethnographic research and a deep dive into theoretical literature, this article explores the idea of hidden or invisible disability and its impact on information work. Much of the current work on disability in higher education is focused on issues involving serving students or library patrons with disabilities. A less explored area of research focuses on the experience of being a library worker with a disability and how that may affect the nature of information work and the provision of service. Moreover, the author explores the repercussions of performing information work with a hidden disability, and how the nature of hidden disability and the act of passing brings about its own ethical quandaries and challenges. The conclusion discusses practical applications for working with colleagues who may have hidden disabilities and provides questions for further exploration.
Hunt, A., & Connolly, D. (Ed.). (2023, Winter). Enabled Archaeology [Feature Issue]. The Archaeologist Issue 118. Reading, UK: Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA).
The seeds for this issue were sown at The Enabled Archaeology Foundation’s panel at the 2022 CIfA conference Enabled archaeology: Making field and museum archaeology more inclusive for disabled staff, volunteers and visitors. Several case studies of good accessible and inclusive practice from commercial units, community projects and universities were shared at the conference, stimulating a discussion on the need to identify and highlight the barriers disabled people still face when they want to participate in archaeological activities, and how organisations can address this by adopting the models of good practice that exist. Using the conference as a starting point, CIfA and The Enabled Archaeology Foundation have worked together to create what we hope is a stimulating issue for readers.
NOTE: Current issues available to members-only, but archived issues available online after one calendar year.
Hunt, J. (2020, Winter). Freaks and freakery in film and history. In Symposium: Medical Humanities and the Fantastic. SFRA Review, 50(1), 54-58.
My focus here is on representations of disability and freakery in the media and within history. My wider research is focused on the representation of disability and, within this paper, I will consider how museums can use the ongoing interest in stories of freaks and freakery to tackle stereotypes and stigmas surrounding disability for their audiences. Initially examining the wide range of disability stereotypes that exist within the media, I will move on to consider the history of freak shows and freakery, before ending by examining how museums can make use of this.
Hutchinson, R., & Eardley, A. F. (2023). ‘I felt I was right there with them’: The impact of sound-enriched audio description on experiencing and remembering artworks, for blind and sighted museum audiences. Museum Management and Curatorship. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09647775.2023.2188482.
This study explored the impact of sound-enriched audio descriptions (AD) on the experience and memorability of a digitally presented photography exhibition. Forty blind and partially blind (BPB) and forty sighted participants were presented with eight photographs from the Museum of London’s archive. Four photos were presented with a standard audio descriptive guide (ADG) and four with a sound-enriched audio descriptive guide (EDG). Experience and memorability were assessed directly after the presentation, and approximately 4 weeks later. Results demonstrated that sighted people remembered more photos than BPB people did with ADG. However, when photos were presented with EDG, the BPB and sighted groups remembered equal number of photos and equal numbers of details. EDG was also enjoyed and preferred by both BPB and sighted participants. Findings suggest that EDGs could be used within mainstream museum offerings as inclusive audio interpretation, thus enhancing access and enjoyment for many visitors and facilitating shared experiences.
Hutson, J., & Hutson, P. (2023). Museums and the metaverse: Emerging technologies to promote inclusivity and engagement. In L. Župčán (Ed.), Application of modern trends in museums [Working Title]. London: IntechOpen. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5772/intechopen.110044.
Over the past two decades, museums have increasingly sought to build connections with the community and increase inclusivity of visitors. At the same time, emerging technologies, such as extended reality (XR) and virtual museums (VM) are increasingly adopted to engage with different generational expectations but also for the purposes of supporting inclusivity and neurodiverse populations. First such technologies were adopted to augment exhibitions in the physical museum space for edutainment. Since then, XR has expanded from room-size environments (CAVEs) and augmented exhibitions to the creation of entire virtual museums, such as The Museum of Pure Form and The Virtual Museum of Sculpture. Digital twins of museums are increasingly common, along with UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Such virtual experiences can be leveraged to prepare neurodiverse visitors prior to visiting a museum. This chapter will outline how existing approaches to social stories and sensory maps may be combined with XR experiences to support neurodiverse visitors and their families. While onsite, immersive technologies can be used both for engagement and to provide accommodations for greater inclusivity and diversity.
Jennissen, T., Marshall, D., Trainor, C., & Robertson, B. (2023). Creating, archiving and exhibiting disability history: The oral histories of disability activists of the Carleton University Disability Research Group.In G. Brilmyer & C. Lee (Eds.), This Feature Has Been Disabled: Critical Intersections of Disability and Information Studies [Special Issue]. First Monday, 28(1). DOI: https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v28i1.12909.
Building a disability archives that is accessible is an ongoing challenge. At Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, this work began a decade ago with the formation of a modest collection of scholars interested in disability issues. The Carleton University Disability Research Group developed as a collective of scholars, graduate students, and non-governmental organisation workers from the fields of social work, engineering, history, library, and archives, including people with disabilities. Since 2013, it has worked to collect, archive, discuss and display histories of disability in Canada, using various media. This paper documents and analyzes the aspects of this work linked to information studies, from the role of archivists and librarians to the making of archives and exhibits with, for, and about people with disability. It presents innovative decisions, introduces unexpected benefits for all in the light of the project of a critical disability archival method and discusses the potential of universities as a site of practice. It takes its most recent project, the Oral histories of activists in the disability rights movement in Canada (1970–2020) as the main case.
This paper examines relatively low cost means of incorporating audio visual elements into library, archive, historical society, and museum exhibits. It provides some ideas smaller institutions can use to create interactive exhibits similar to those found in larger, well-funded museums.
Johnson, M., & Forsythe, C. (2019). Disability and accessibility language in subject headings and social tags. Catalogue & Index, 197, 16–26.
Mackenzie Johnson and Carlie Forsythe’s article on disability and accessibility language in subject headings and social tagging stresses the importance of involving subject experts in the creation of subject headings, and of getting the headings right to allow effective information retrieval. The authors also assess the ‘third way’, of semi-structured, moderated social tagging systems, that lies between fully controlled vocabularies and free social tagging.
Kanari, C., & Souliotou, A. Z. (2021). The role of museum education in raising undergraduate pre-service teachers’ disability awareness: The case of an exhibition by disabled artists in Greece. Higher Education Studies, 11(2), 99-119. DOI: https://www.ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/hes/article/view/0/44952.
In the frame of the worldwide policies towards inclusion there is a need of changes, systematic strategies and actions at different levels and settings of the society including education and cultural organizations. Museums, culture and arts have a constantly increasing role towards a more cohesive and inclusive society in terms of educational, social and cultural impact and for diverse social groups that face various barriers in their full participation in social life. Furthermore, museums as nonformal learning environments and art activities can complement different levels of formal education and courses towards a better understanding of diversity. The aforementioned are of particular importance for disabled people as well as for teachers who work with disabled children and for the enrichment of student teachers’ training in issues of disability. The aim of the present study was to investigate issues of cultural representations and the reflections of undergraduate Primary Education teachers regarding disabled artists, arts, museum and education after a visit in a temporary art exhibition of disabled artists. The participants were 33 student teachers of a University Department in Greece who attended a Museum Education course and the data were obtained via questionnaires. The results revealed the value and the need for further learning opportunities in museums and other cultural environments as well as their potential contribution in combating stereotypes, enriching and broadening undergraduate Primary Education teachers’ perceptions regarding disability with implications in the fields of Museum Studies and Museum Education, Arts, Higher Education, Special and Inclusive Education.
Kelly, E., & Rice, C. (2020, January 16). Universities must open their archives and share their oppressive pasts. The Conversation [Website].
A brief overview of gaining access to the University of Guelph’s archives to develop a co-created, multimedia and multi-sensory exhibition at the Guelph Civic Museum called Into the Light: Eugenics and Education in Southern Ontario which explored the University’s history of teaching eugenics.
Kirkpatrick, B. (2018). Disability, cultural accessibility, and the radio archive. New Review of Film and Television Studies, 16(4), 473-480, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/17400309.2018.1524963.
“‘Archiving as activism’ is a beautifully paradoxical phrase: an archive is usually thought to be about preserving the past, while activism is about changing the future. But as a mission statement, ‘archiving as activism’ calls on us to find–or more accurately, produce–interfaces and conjunctions between historical preservation and forward-facing social change. It recasts the archival project as less of a material effort to collect stuff and more of a temporal effort to facilitate activist conversations across time” (p. 473).
Koford, A. (2014). How disability studies scholars interact with subject headings. Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 52(4), 388–411. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/01639374.2014.891288.
Although several scholars of information organization have documented limitations in the way subject access standards represent marginalized topics, few have studied how users understand and address these limitations. This qualitative study investigates the information seeking behavior of nine scholars in the field of disability studies, focusing on how they interact with subject headings. The findings suggest that disability studies scholars often encounter and use non-preferred language when doing research and that they respond to this language in a variety of ways. The study also found that many participants prefer multidisciplinary search tools to subject-specific databases.
Kosmas, P., Galanakis, G., Constantinou, V., Drossis, G., Christofi, M., Klironomos, I., Zaphiris, P., Antona, M., & Stephanidis, C. (2020). Enhancing accessibility in cultural heritage environments: Considerations for social computing. Universal Access in the Information Society, 19, 471–482 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10209-019-00651-4.
Current technological advancements offer many ways of enhancing disabled peoples’ access to cultural heritage environments. A new generation of social computing technologies and systems is changing the way in which we access cultural heritage, facilitating the inclusion of socially isolated groups of people. Under this perspective, this paper aims to explore the potential impact of social computing systems to enhance peoples’ access to cultural heritage, particularly focusing on deaf and disabled users. By reviewing the current literature on social computing and cultural heritage, the paper first summarizes the related applications and appropriate key technologies; second, it provides examples of innovative approaches to the enhancement of user engagement and interaction through social computing. Moreover, the paper highlights arising issues of privacy, as well as ethical considerations, and presents design principles for ensuring privacy. The study concludes by discussing challenges for inclusive social computing applications in the context of cultural heritage and pointing out areas where future research is needed.
Kumbier, A. (2014). Haunting archives: Memory, disability, and archival spaces in Liebe Perla. In Ephemeral material: Queering the archive [Series on Gender and Sexuality in Information Studies No. 5] (pp. 75-118). Sacramento: Litwin Books.
“This chapter explores queer archival concerns and practices with an unexpected tour guide: a documentary about the experiences of short statured people during and after the Holocaust” (p. 75).
Lambe, A. M. (2022, September). Seeing madness in the archives. The American Historical Review, 127(3), 1381–1391. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/ahr/rhac293.
What does it mean for the historian to be silent about mental illness in her life and also to perceive silence about mental illness in the archives? This essay explores the significance of the historian seeing mental illness and ableism in the historical archive, in her family history, and in herself. It examines the significance of mad identity for the historian, her historical subjects, and the discipline of history more broadly. It celebrates breaking the silence ableism inflicts and asserting madness.
Leahy, A. (2022). Barriers and facilitators to cultural participation by people with disabilities: A narrative literature review. Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research, 24(1), 68-81. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16993/sjdr.863.
Article 30 of the UN Convention on the rights of Persons with Disabilities obliges States Parties to ensure accessibility of cultural goods, services and heritage and to adopt measures enabling persons with disabilities to utilize their artistic potential. However, people with disabilities experience barriers to engagement in cultural life as audiences and as creators. This article presents a narrative literature review that classifies barriers and facilitators to cultural participation identified in previous studies. It does so under five headings: (1) lack of effective/adequate legislation, policies and legal standards; (2) lack of funding and/or of adequate services; (3) negative attitudes; (4) lack of accessibility; (5) lack of consultation with, and involvement of, persons with disabilities in cultural organisations. This provides a novel contribution to the state of art by synthesising findings from different yet related fields. It forms the basis for future multi-method research addressing barriers to participation in culture.
Leahy, A., & Ferri, D. (2022). The right to participate in cultural life of persons with disabilities in Europe: Where is the paradigm shift? Alter, 16(4), 5-29.
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is associated with a paradigm shift in how disability is approached, as it views persons with disabilities as holders of rights and as active members of society. It aims to ensure that people with disabilities are fully included in communal life, and, in Article 30, addresses participation in culture. This research article focuses on the implementation of Article 30, investigating whether there is evidence of the paradigm shift underpinning the CRPD in how cultural participation is approached by States Parties. Focusing on Europe and on the basis of a systematic qualitative document analysis of States’ reports to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and recommendations made by the Committee in response to them, this article shows that the medical model of disability still underpins cultural participation. Signs of a paradigm shift are, however, evident in the way States address accessibility and identities of some groups. Physical access to buildings and heritage is a prominent issue, and awareness of the need to facilitate access to cultural content is emerging. This article concludes that full realisation of the paradigm shift in the cultural domain, while being essential to achieve full inclusion of persons with disabilities, is yet to come.
Leahy, A., & Ferri, D. (2023). Barriers to cultural participation by people with disabilities in Europe: A study across 28 countries. Disability & Society. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09687599.2023.2222898.
This article discusses the findings of a new qualitative study conducted in 28 European countries, examining barriers to cultural participation as perceived by representatives of organisations of people with disabilities. The study explores barriers operating in all art-forms as well as in cultural heritage, and it encompasses participation of people with a broad range of disability types both as audiences and as creators of culture. The article evidences that a range of interlinked barriers are commonly perceived by people with disabilities in five areas – lack of effective laws and policies; inadequate services and/or funding; negative attitudes; lack of accessibility; and lack of involvement of persons with disabilities in cultural organisations. The article argues for more systematic approaches to enforcement of laws and policies, for greater knowledge about disability to be embedded within cultural organisations and policymaking, and for employment of people with disabilities at all levels within cultural sectors.
Marconcini, S. (2022). Inclusive design strategies for museums: Targets and remarks for wider access to culture. Protection of Cultural Heritage, 14. DOI: https://doi.org/10.35784/odk.3046.
Museums are repositories of culture, knowledge, and values that everyone should be able to have access to. To this end, specific attention should be paid to the issue of disability when designing or operating such facilities. Despite an increased awareness, many designers still lack a full understanding of the complexity of people’s needs and the topic of inclusion. Through an excursus of the evolving concept of diversity and how design can provide an enabling or disabling built environment, this paper aims at setting the cognitive framework to address the issue of broader fruition in museum spaces. Particularly, the focus of this contribution is on the European context, its historical cities and cultural heritage. Therefore, the needs of inclusion must be balanced with those of conservation, adding an extra layer of complexity. The museum will then be examined from an inclusive perspective, highlighting the issues to be addressed and providing some suggestions on the tools available to overcome them and grant everyone access to culture.
Martins, P. R. (2021). Redefining disability in museums: Exploring representation. The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, 15(1), 21-31. DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/1835-2014/CGP/v15i01/21-31.
The representation of social minorities has been the object of discussion, debate, and reflection relating to contemporary museological practices and thinking within museums regarding the content of exhibitions, participation, and collaboration with marginalized groups. However, people with disabilities continue to be underrepresented in most museum exhibitions and public programs, and they are seldom recognized as a social minority with their own culture and identity. When they are represented, they most often appear in an undignified context, irrespective of the current ideas of otherness and human diversity. What policies and practices can museums develop to change the cultural significance of disability and raise the awareness of their audiences regarding the issues of disability, presenting their legacies, trajectories, and history? How can the contents of these collections be explored and presented publicly through curatorial or educational practice? What impact can the representation of disability have on museum dynamics? With these questions, this article focuses on current issues regarding the practice of representing disability in museums in Portuguese collections, addressing and problematizing the way museums have publicly interpreted and presented disability through their collections and exhibitions.”
McMillen, R. (2017, August). Museum marketing and disability access. International Journal of Business Management and Commerce, 2(4).
This article examines museum marketing and disability access, specifically the variety of ways museums market their accessible programs to people with disabilities. Five prominent U.S. art museums were selected to investigate the marketing methods they use to promote access to audiences with disabilities. The results indicate that word of mouth and the use of technology, such as websites and social media, were the most common forms of marketing methods used to reach people with disabilities. These findings provide museums and the disability community with valuable insight about what accessible amenities, programs, and events museums are currently offering and the avenues by which museums market them.
Mesquita, S., Caldeira, A., & Carneiro, M. J. (2022). What facilitates or constrains co-creation in museums? The case of people with visual impairments. Disability & Society. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09687599.2022.2157704.
The awareness that museums must be inclusive and participatory led to practices adapted to visitors’ requirements and co-creative experiences, encouraging interaction with exhibitions, and thus fostering memorable experiences. Yet, constraints remain for people with disabilities, reducing their satisfaction and desire to return. Despite the high number of people with visual impairments worldwide, there is a lack of research on factors that may impact their co-creation in museums. This paper aims to identify factors influencing the co-creation of people with visual impairments experiences in museums, either facilitating or constraining it. Based on focus groups discussion, the results of the study conducted suggest that the co-creation of people with visual impairments in museums is influenced both by aspects related to visitors, as well as by disabling features of the museums’ physical, communicational, and attitudinal environments. Conclusions and implications drawn are critical to improve the experience of people with visual impairments in museums.
Michalak, R., & Rysavy, M. D. T. (2020). Assessing the accessibility of library tools & services when you aren’t an accessibility expert: Part 2. Journal of Library Administration, 60(3), 295-300. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/01930826.2020.1727283.
There are a few studies in library literature that explore accessibility issues from the perspective of students who use assistive technologies for accessibility. As we shared in part one of this two-part series in our column, librarians have extensively explored through usability studies with WAVE and other audit tools how accessible library websites and databases are when using assistive technologies like JAWS. In this column, we asked our blind student worker to journal his experiences navigating our library’s databases. We found this student navigated the databases better than we anticipated. While his experiences regarding the accessibility of the libraries’ electronic services varied, common issues he experienced included navigational issues from menus with expanding capabilities, documents that were not scanned with OCR, and images without alternative text.
Mudawi-Rowlings, O. (2021, January 10). Harnessing Cultural Capital to achieve authentic inclusivity. London: Clore Leadership.
“The question I pose here is: how we can adapt current structures and policies to genuinely encompass the cultural capital of Deaf, neurodiverse and disabled people?
This essential work has been historically appointed to one generic access officer who is tasked with ensuring intersectionality and diverse representation. Cultural Capital delivers equality that is a value-added exchange. Marginalised people must not be seen as detracting from culture when efforts are made in mainstream settings to engage with them but rather the opposite. It is a two-way exchange that enriches all through a drive towards equality. The perspectives and input of marginalised people add enormous value to our sector and this influx of new ways of working and perceiving the world generate fresh initiatives but breathes creative life into our work that makes it not only attractive but sustainable. By facilitating cultural capital into economic capital, authentic inclusivity can be achieved.
In my interviews with access officers, artists, patrons and other integral community members at several high-profile arts organisations – including the British Museum, Tate Modern and the Royal Academy – it has been noted that there is a serious lack of Deaf or disabled representation within the workforce.
As a British Sudanese, female, Deaf artist and maker, I have observed events that have been unsuccessful in the ultimate aim of being accessible or attracting their intended audience, and I can identify missed opportunities that crudely equate to cost inefficiencies, never mind the significant human impacts.
These missed opportunities can be linked to simple issues that cultural knowledge and accumulated lived experiences can mitigate. Current structures assume one access officer is able to represent a diverse range of people. It is inevitable that a single staff member is not part of each diverse community they are trying to reach, and is therefore not aware of the places where listings need to be posted or how to reach audiences in the most appropriate and effective manner. These can be incredibly nuanced issues that are easy to miss, but which have significant and lasting impacts on attendance and trust in a brand, venue or organisation. It also devalues the people who it is intended to include.
Exhibiting venues have a legal obligation to ensure that their sites are accessible to disabled people and as such, Deaf patrons are offered access in the form of a BSL tour or through a sign language interpreter. Accessibility has improved enormously due to increased awareness, legislation and technology, but it is only one part of the discourse on inclusivity; a workshop for current or developing artists on a painting form and material style, for example, is rarely accessible. The distinction is in the assumption that the user of accessibility is a Deaf person who is a patron and not an artist.
For the rest of this paper, I will focus on the most underrepresented aspect of my own personal intersectionality, but by doing this, I do not intend to exclude the diverse intersections that are so often not factored into the process in meaningful ways. It also demonstrates the important point that one person cannot cover all of these complex features of identity alone. I will also include the perspectives of a wide range of interviewees, with the aim of providing a broader view of the complex set of concerns I am setting out to address.
Underrepresented people are broadly tired of being part of yet another advisory board, often repeatedly seeing misrepresentation or enduring underrepresentation in practice, while not being equitably recompensed for their valued contribution. Cultural capital is the manifestation of cultural assets that have economic worth. The intellectual assets of Deaf people are central to their enterprise, while the erosion of their capital can be destabilising. This is not unique to Deaf people and is just as prevalent in most underrepresented groups of people.”
Muir, R. (2020). It’s all in the plan: A document analysis of Victorian council and public library disability access and inclusion plans. Journal of the Australian Library and Information Association, 69(1), 102-155. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/24750158.2020.1712883.
The Victorian Government requires councils to create a disability action plan or discuss inclusion in their council plan. Disability action plans aim to reduce barriers in accessing goods, services or facilities and to reduce discrimination. With public libraries in Victoria being managed by councils either individually or in a corporation, these action plans have the potential to directly impact on the community via library services. Using qualitative and quantitative document analysis, a total of 31 Victorian councils or library corporation disability action plans were analysed to understand what these plans saw as the action areas for libraries working with people with a disability. It was found that definitions of disability in these action plans broadly matched with the wider disability and libraries literature, with most councils in Victoria having an online action plan but comparatively few library corporations having the same. Libraries were largely discussed in relation to six theme areas (Access; Certification; Collections; Programming; Technology; and Training). An overall summary indicates that libraries involvement in council disability action plans is less detailed than in some library corporation action plans.
Münch, L., Heuer, T., Schiering, I., Müller, S.V. (2022). Accessibility criteria for an inclusive museum for people with learning disabilities: A review. In M. Antona, & C. Stephanidis (Eds), Universal Access in Human-Computer Interaction. User and Context Diversity, HCII 2022 [Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Vol. 13309] (pp. 371-385). Springer, Cham. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-05039-8_27.
This review strives to collect, contrast, and systematize criteria for an inclusive museum for people with learning disabilities in guidelines and scientific publications. The aim is to provide an overview of relevant criteria and information for museums to improve access for people with learning disabilities. In addition, it will be examined to which extent persons with learning disabilities are involved in the development of guidelines or the research of accessibility requirements. A literature review was conducted to identify relevant accessibility criteria for people with learning disabilities. The review highlights that scientific publications focus on exhibits for the inclusion of people with learning disabilities, whereas guidelines propose general actions and measures. In particular, guidelines mention many access preferences for people with learning disabilities, whereas many of these criteria do not appear to be generally accepted yet, because some criteria are considered important by only one guideline. The small number of relevant guidelines and scientific publications identified in this review signifies that people with learning disabilities are only partly considered within the museum context so far. The importance of participatory research approaches is emphasized but commonly not yet been implemented. There is a need for further research that focuses on access preferences and the specific needs of people with learning disabilities in a participatory way. The development of guidelines should be accompanied by scientific studies, and research projects should pursue more participatory research approaches. Furthermore, the benefits of digital assistive technologies as mediation media should be examined in future works even more.
Nikolić, T., & Ranczakowska, A. M. (2023). Diversity, equality, accessibility and inclusion (DEAI), and mentorship in the cultural sector. In K. Kiitsak-Prikk & K.Kiiv (Eds.), Perspectives on mentorship: Reinventing mentoring in arts and creative industries management (pp. 143-158). Tallinn, Estonia: Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre Press.
Questions of diversity, equality, accessibility, and inclusion (DEAI) are topical in the context of mentorship and this chapter provides practical means and ways of introducing them. The chapter underlines existing social inequalities in the European cultural sector, explains the relevance of questions of diversity, equality, accessibility, and inclusion through mentoring and gives examples of mentoring programmes across and outside Europe aiming to support socially marginalised colleagues in the field of arts and arts management. The chapter also offers guidelines for future mentoring programmes in order to contribute to diversity and equality in their local scenes or artistic fields, as well as implications for educational institutions and platforms in the arts and culture.
Olmo, R. L. (2023). Access barriers to digital screens in museums. The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, 16(2), 87-107. DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/1835-2014/CGP/v16i02/87-107.
Museums are public spaces that must guarantee access to their content to as many people as possible. For this reason, museums must consider all the difficulties their visitors may encounter when accessing their galleries and the exhibitions within them. Many areas of study in the museum sector have been applying what is known as the social model of disability in their approach for some years, but professionals who work in the design of exhibitions are often excluded from this conversation. This may imply that the accessibility aspects applied to the design of exhibitions in museums are often the same applied by designers to other sectors, and they are usually based on the medical model of disability. By highlighting the nature of access barriers and how they are experienced by visitors, this research aims to help professionals involved in the design of exhibitions empathize with the problems that visitors can face accessing digital screens and, therefore, provide solutions to mitigate their effects.
Partarakis, N., Zabulis, X., Foukarakis, M., Moutsaki, M., Zidianakis, E., Patakos, A., Adami, I., Kaplanidi, D., Ringas, C., & Tasiopoulou, E. (2022). Supporting sign language narrations in the museum. In N. Partarakis, X. Zabulis, L. Pannese, A. Carré, C. Meghini, S. Manitsaris, A. Dubois (Eds.), Understanding and Representation of the Intangible and Tangible Dimensions of Traditional Crafts for Their Safeguarding and Valorization [Special Issue]. Heritage, 5(1), 1-20. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage5010001.
The accessibility of Cultural Heritage content for the diverse user population visiting Cultural Heritage Institutions and accessing content online has not been thoroughly discussed. Considering the penetration of new digital media in such physical and virtual spaces, lack of accessibility may result in the exclusion of a large user population. To overcome such emerging barriers, this paper proposes a cost-effective methodology for the implementation of Virtual Humans, which are capable of narrating content in a universally accessible form and acting as virtual storytellers in the context of online and on-site CH experiences. The methodology is rooted in advances in motion capture technologies and Virtual Human implementation, animation, and multi-device rendering. This methodology is employed in the context of a museum installation at the Chios Mastic Museum where VHs are presenting the industrial process of mastic processing for chewing gum production.
Partington, Z., & Boys, J. (2022). Abandoned in the archives? Collaborating with disabled people towards more inclusive spaces. In E. Robenalt, D. Farrell-Banks, & K. Markham (Eds.), Activist Pedagogies in Museum Studies and Practice [Special Issue]. Journal of Museum Education, 47(4), 442-458. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/10598650.2022.2147357.
The DisOrdinary Architecture Project was co-founded in 2008 by Zoe Partington, a partially blind artist who has a chronic condition, and Jos Boys, to promote activity that develops and captures models of new practice for the built environment, led by the creativity and experiences of disabled and Deaf artists. Since then, through this platform, diverse disabled artists have been working with students, educators, museums, galleries, architectural professionals and other cultural practitioners to co-explore innovative and creative ways to think about improving access, equality and inclusion. In this article, framed as a conversation between the DisOrdinary’s two founders and co-directors, we link disability arts and activism to wider artistic and campaigning practices for inclusion. We explore what alternative kinds of museum and gallery spaces we need, and also their underpinning archival, curatorial and educational practices. How can we unlock the potential for change by ensuring excluded people are at the heart of decision-making? What are the barriers? What kinds of critical and provocative creativity can unlock disabled people’s stories and artifacts, as a vital part of our heritage and learning?
Perera, T. (2022). Description specialists and inclusive description work and/or initiatives—An exploratory study. Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 60(5), 355-386. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/01639374.2022.2093301.
This paper presents preliminary findings from an exploratory research study investigating the education, Library and Information Science (LIS) work experiences, and demographics of description specialists engaging in inclusive description work and/or initiatives. Survey results represent participants’ education background, LIS work experiences, motivations behind projects and initiatives, areas of work and types of project priorities, preferred outcomes, and challenges encountered while engaging in inclusive description work and/or initiatives. Findings also point to gaps in understanding related to cultural concepts. A participant-created definition for inclusive description is a successful outcome of the study.
Pietroni, E., PaganoA., Biocca, L., & Frassineti, G. (2021). Accessibility, natural user interfaces and interactions in museums: The IntARSI Project. In A. Macchia, N. Masini, & F. Prestileo (Eds.), YOCOCU2020 Hands on Heritage: Experiencing, Conservation, Mastering Management [Special Issue]. Heritage, 4(2), 567-584. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage4020034.
In a museum context, people have specific needs in terms of physical, cognitive, and social accessibility that cannot be ignored. Therefore, we need to find a way to make art and culture accessible to them through the aid of Universal Design principles, advanced technologies, and suitable interfaces and contents. Integration of such factors is a priority of the Museums General Direction of the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage, within the wider strategy of museum exploitation. In accordance with this issue, the IntARSI project, publicly funded, consists of a pre-evaluation and a report of technical specifications for a new concept of museology applied to the new Museum of Civilization in Rome (MuCIV). It relates to planning of multimedia, virtual, and mixed reality applications based on the concept of “augmented” and multisensory experience, innovative tangible user interfaces, and storytelling techniques. An inclusive approach is applied, taking into account the needs and attitudes of a wide audience with different ages, cultural interests, skills, and expectations, as well as cognitive and physical abilities.
Pionke, J. J. (2020, April). Disability- and accessibility-related library graduate-school education from the student perspective. Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, 61(2), 253-269. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3138/jelis.2019-0036.
This study explored library graduate student perceptions of their readiness for and comfort levels in doing activities related to accessibility and disability. The study also aimed to determine the training needs of library graduate students. A survey with both quantitative and qualitative questions was developed, snowball sampling was used, and the survey was administered in the fall of 2018. Analysis of both data types indicates that library graduate students generally feel unprepared to work with patrons with disabilities or address activities related to accessibility. Based on the results, there are several recommendations for improvement within library graduate education, including incorporating accessibility and disability more robustly into the current curriculum, creating training/education programs that teach practical skills, including how to troubleshoot assistive technologies, and recruiting and retaining students and faculty who have disabilities.
Pionke, J. J. (2020). Library Employee Views of Disability and Accessibility. Journal of Library Administration, 60(2), 120-145. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/01930826.2019.1704560.
This study sought to explore library employee attitudes toward people with disabilities and accessibility. It also aimed to determine the training needs of current library employees. A survey with both quantitative and qualitative questions was developed and snowball sampling was used. Analysis of both types of data indicates that librarians across library types generally feel unprepared to work with patrons with disabilities. Based on the results, there are several recommendations for improvement within the profession, including creating a more robust training program focused on accessibility and disability, examining policies from local through national levels, and improving recruitment and retention of people with disabilities into the profession
Pirrone, M., Centorrino, M., Galletta, A., Sicari, C., & Villari, M. (2023, April). Digital Humanities and disability: A systematic literature review of cultural accessibility for people with disability. Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, 38(1), 313-329. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/llc/fqac045.
In recent times, Digital Humanities (DH), together with the discoveries of Information and Communications Technology, have enabled the rediscovery and usability of cultural content with the support of various technologies. However, it was found that not everyone is able to access web platforms or visit cultural sites easily. In particular, the epidemiological Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the retrograde state of culture in terms of accessibility and usability, conditioned by the physical and web browsing limitations that for years weighed on people with disabilities. Therefore, it was decided to investigate how DH might support the cultural accessibility of people with disabilities. In particular, it was decided to carry out a systematic review of the cultural innovations of DH together with a survey on disability and supporting technologies in order to present how to improve the quality of the cultural experience of such a target. This study proceeded with the research and selection of literature on the subject of DH and disability, with the selection, analysis, and correlation of the scientific works included. The reference time frame includes the works produced between 2018 and 2022 consulted on main databases such as Scopus and Web of Science (WoS), screened using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses Statement.
Power, M. (2017). Disruptive curatorial practices: An intermediary force of activism. Knots: An Undergraduate Journal of Disability Studies, Issue 3, 118-125.
This paper examines the disruptive nature of disability-led curatorial practices with respect to curating disability art. The normative narrative of disability is subverted through the disruptive curatorial process of teaching, displaying and re-presenting disability art. This process is informed by the social model of disability. The exhibition, Medusa’s Mirror: Fears, Spells & Other Transfixed Positions, curated by Amanda Cachia at the Pro Arts Gallery in Oakland, California is used as an example of a disruptive curatorial practice that teaches, displays, and re-presents disability in an institutional space.
Re, M. R., & Valente, M. (2023). Promoting social inclusion in vocational training students with disabilities: An experience of museum education. In D. Guralnick, M. E. Auer, & A. Poce (Eds.), Innovative Approaches to Technology-Enhanced Learning for the Workplace and Higher Education: TLIC 2022 [Lecture Notes in Networks and Systems Vol. 581]. Springer, Cham. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-21569-8_29.
The present contribution aims to illustrate the results of a pilot experience conducted at the National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia with the participation of CFP Simonetta Tosi in Rome, a vocational training centre addressed to people with disabilities. The educational path, realized within the pilot experience, aims to promote well-being, analytical skills, and the use of digital technologies in museum education contexts, and it is addressed to adult users with problems of social inclusion. The achievement of the aims of the pilot experience is pursued using inclusive and innovative learning methodologies: Object-based Learning (OBL) and Digital Storytelling (DST). OBL is increasingly adopted in both formal and informal education contexts, especially in terms of well-being and transverse skills promotion. The focus on the museum object facilitates the involvement of users and supports communication, analysis, and argumentation skills. DST allows people to express, understand, and articulate everyday experiences in a creative way. Through DST, museum users can connect with the territory in which they have situated, identifying different types of stories and telling them through digital devices. Moreover, DST is not simply a vehicle for increasing digital literacy, but also a learning methodology aimed at overcoming social barriers and increasing understanding between generations, ethnicities, and displaced groups. The results of the pilot experience underline a good level of well-being at the end of the learning activities, an improvement of sense of community and digital and basic skills promotion within participants.
Regehr, C., Duff, W., Aton, H., & Sato, C. (2022). Grief and trauma in the archives. Journal of Loss and Trauma: International Perspectives on Stress & Coping. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/15325024.2022.2164143.
Reporting on a qualitative study involving in-depth interviews, this paper seeks to elucidate the nature and factors associated with emotional responses in archivists working with records detailing human suffering and atrocity and working with individuals in the community whose lives intersect with the archives. Results detail the impact of these exposures on archivists; and factors influencing emotional responses to traumatic exposures such as the nature of exposure, personal history and connections to the traumatic material, professional engagement and expectations, and the organizational context. Recommendations for mitigating the emotional toll of archival work arising from the data are presented.
Roque Martins, P. (2021). Redefining disability in museums: Exploring representation. The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, 15(1). 21-31. DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/1835-2014/CGP/v15i01/21-31.
“The representation of social minorities has been the object of discussion, debate, and reflection relating to contemporary museological practices and thinking within museums regarding the content of exhibitions, participation, and collaboration with marginalized groups. However, people with disabilities continue to be underrepresented in most museum exhibitions and public programs, and they are seldom recognized as a social minority with their own culture and identity. When they are represented, they most often appear in an undignified context, irrespective of the current ideas of otherness and human diversity. What policies and practices can museums develop to change the cultural significance of disability and raise the awareness of their audiences regarding the issues of disability, presenting their legacies, trajectories, and history? How can the contents of these collections be explored and presented publicly through curatorial or educational practice? What impact can the representation of disability have on museum dynamics? With these questions, this article focuses on current issues regarding the practice of representing disability in museums in Portuguese collections, addressing and problematizing the way museums have publicly interpreted and presented disability through their collections and exhibitions.”
Rysavy, M. D. T., & Michalak, R. (2020). Assessing the accessibility of library tools & services when you aren’t an accessibility expert: Part 1. Journal of Library Administration, 60(1), 71-79. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/01930826.2019.1685273.
In 2019, the Goldey-Beacom College library served its first 100% blind student. To become more familiar with accessibility efforts at other colleges and universities, the authors compiled a brief literature review that discusses state statutes for accessibility, university policies on accessibility, and librarians’ audits on web accessibility and vendor supplied databases. To determine the accessibility of the library’s subscribed tools and services, the director of the office of institutional research & training and the director of the library, archives, and learning center used the WAVE online accessibility checker to audit the main library electronic resources: Gale Power Search, ProQuest, Yewno, EBSCO, LibGuides, SpringShare A–Z Database List, JSTOR, Adam Matthew, SAGE Research Methods, and Encyclopedia Britannica. WAVE results indicate that there are errors with 9 out of 10 electronic resources reviewed and alerts with 10 out of 10 of the audited electronic resources.
Sandell, R., Dodd, J., & Garland-Thomson, R. (Eds.). Re-presenting disability: Activism and agency in the museum. New York: Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203521267.
“Re-Presenting Disability addresses issues surrounding disability representation in museums and galleries, a topic which is receiving much academic attention and is becoming an increasingly pressing issue for practitioners working in wide-ranging museums and related cultural organisations. This volume of provocative and timely contributions brings together twenty researchers, practitioners and academics from different disciplinary, institutional and cultural contexts to explore issues surrounding the cultural representation of disabled people and, more particularly, the inclusion (as well as the marked absence) of disability-related narratives in museum and gallery displays. The diverse perspectives featured in the book offer fresh ways of interrogating and understanding contemporary representational practices as well as illuminating existing, related debates concerning identity politics, social agency and organisational purposes and responsibilities, which have considerable currency within museums and museum studies.”
Schomberg, J. (2018). Disability at work: Libraries, built to exclude. In K. P. Nicholson & M. Seale (Eds.), The politics and theory of critical librarianship (pp. 111–123). Sacramento: Library Juice Press.
My goal in writing this chapter is to use critical disability theory grounded in my lived experience to offer some possibilities for improving the working conditions of library employees with disabilities. I begin by providing an overview of some mainstream and critical perspectives on disability. Next, I offer my own insights into being a disabled librarian by taking an intersectional approach to the construction of power. I conclude the chapter by suggesting some ways to bring theory and practice together to make the workplace more inclusive of people. Throughout the chapter, I share some of my experiences as a person with diabetes in an attempt to highlight how combining lived experience with social theories can improve the practice of library work.
Sherman, M. (2022). Accessibility in libraries: A landscape review. Chicago: Knology, in collaboration with the American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office and Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services.
“Since libraries are essential points of connection for communities around the country, it is important to consider how disability and accessibility factor into library settings—whether in library programming, services, or the physical aspects of library buildings themselves. This report, put together by Knology, presents a review of some of the literature and best practices around libraries and accessibility. In particular, it attends to the different ways in which disability has been and continues to be understood, the ways in which the term has evolved, and what this has meant for libraries attempting to become some of the most inclusive and accessible institutions in society. In the pages that follow, this report lays out an explanation of the different ways disability has been understood and defined over time, the history of accessibility in libraries, the landscape of accessibility and its different applications in library settings in the 21st Century, and the resources that are available and most commonly used to include people with different kinds of disabilities into library programs and services” (p. 4).
Sheidin, J., & Kuflik, T. (2023). Artful accessibility: Designing technologies to enhance museum experiences for individuals with mobility disabilities in art exhibitions. 2nd Italian Workshop on Artificial Intelligence for Cultural Heritage (IAI4CH 2023, co-located with the 22nd International Conference of the Italian Association for Artificial Intelligence (AIxIA 2023), 6-9 November 2023, Roma, Italy.
Accessibility gains importance and is becoming a central component on the agenda of cultural and heritage sites, such as museums, especially since the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. A range of innovative technologies are being designed to facilitate accessibility for museum visitors. These new technologies have the potential to trans-form museum experiences for people with mobility disabilities. The present-ed work is a work in progress, which demonstrates an innovative system that will enhance the visit experience for individuals with mobility disabilities in art exhibitions.
Shirai, Y., & DiCindio, C. M. (2022). Museum as a mutual learning space for artists with intellectual and developmental disabilities and university students. Canadian Journal of Disability Studies, 11(3), 30–60. Retrieved from https://cjds.uwaterloo.ca/index.php/cjds/article/view/926.
Using a university museum as a mutual learning space, guided by the core principles of multivocality and inclusive arts practice, six adult artists with intellectual disability and 16 undergraduate students collaborated to plan a public art exhibition. In this article, we describe the facilitation of the 6-week group process with artists with intellectual disability who have varied cognitive and communication abilities, to curate their own stories and prepare for a public art exhibition, and students to gain field experiences as community art educators, working with a community artist group. By using the expressive arts as a core communicative tool, artists with intellectual disability led small group conversations about a shared life topic of grief with university undergraduate students. In return, the students facilitated the curating process for the artists with intellectual disability, being able to transform their personal bereavement stories into a public exhibition. Evaluation of artefacts, observations and survey data demonstrated significant and positive influence on artists to synthesize their detailed stories in their works of art through creative and art-based group dialogues, and students’ skills to facilitate multivocality of practice. The results also confirmed that, with shared values of respecting diverse voices of people, creativity and reflectivity, multivocality and inclusive arts practice are compatible frameworks for setting up an inclusive community project.
Shogren, K. A., Caldarelli, A., Del Bianco, N., D’Angelo, I., & Giaconi, C. (2022). Co designing inclusive museum itineraries with people with disabilities: A case study from self-determination. Education Sciences & Society – Open Access, 13(2). DOI: https://doi.org/10.3280/ess2-2022oa14611.
In the present paper, after a description of the theoretical framework used to define self-determination, we will describe the importance of structuring a research context that fosters the self-advocacy of people with disabilities. In this direction, a protocol of participatory research with people with intellectual disabilities will be presented in the third paragraph. Specifically, we will expand the procedure to support the creation of accessible museum captions, thanks to the application of Easy-to-Read guidelines.
Society of American Archivists. (2019, February). Guidelines for accessible archives for people with disabilities. Chicago: Author.
These Guidelines provide recommendations and suggest resources to help archivists provide services and spaces that are accessible and inclusive. They encourage respect for each person’s right of physical control of their own body, assistive devices and related accommodations. They advise compliance with the ADA and other external accessibility standards, including at institutions that are not legally mandated to do so. Institutions are encouraged to conduct periodic comprehensive accessibility reviews touching on all areas of these Guidelines. Even if an institution does not have all the tools to accommodate every person’s differing abilities, working towards accessibility is key.
Soler Gallego, S. (2022). (Re)Imagining the museum: Communicative and social features of verbal description in art museums. Disability Studies Quarterly, 42(1). DOI: https://doi.org/10.18061/dsq.v42i1.7287.
Verbal description plays a crucial role in improving access to modern-day art museums. This article presents the results of a study of verbal description in art museums in France, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. These results are of two types: one, the communicative features of the verbal descriptions offered by museums and two, the social features of the context in which these verbal descriptions are created and implemented. Previous studies have partially described these aspects, but they mainly followed a quantitative approach or focused on the most frequent practices regarding specific linguistic devices. The goal of this article is to offer a qualitative analysis of these elements in a large sample and to provide a comparative analysis and critical discussion of both the majority and the minority practices in verbal description in art museums. The results show that art museums follow various approaches to foster the access for blind people to their collections. Some of these approaches open new ways of comprehending accessibility in art museums and especially, audio description. A critical and creative discussion of these findings and further collaboration within and across borders could revolutionize verbal description and visitors’ experience in art museums in the years to come.
Stuckey, A. (2021, Fall). Stories out of place: Archives of disability and settler colonialism in and from life of Black Hawk. In J. Larkin-Gilmore, E. Callow, & S. Burch (Eds.), Indigeneity & Disability: Kinship, Place, and Knowledge-Making [Special Issue]. Disability Studies Quarterly, 41(4). DOI: https://doi.org/10.18061/dsq.v41i4.
Near the beginning of his 1833 narrative, Sauk warrior Mà-ka-tai-me-she-kià-kiàk, or Black Hawk, interrupts himself. Stepping out of the account he is narrating—the account of his resistance to the white theft of Sauk lands that culminated in the Black Hawk War—he states, “My memory is not very good, since my late visit to the white people. I have still a buzzing in my ears, from the noise—and may give some parts of my story out of place; but I will endeavor to be correct.” This moment is one of several in Life of Black Hawk in which Black Hawk self-consciously disrupts his own story in order to comment on the larger circumstances of disruption that he recounts. The passage also records a moment of apparent impairment, or of fluctuation in Black Hawk’s storytelling capacity: the weakened memory, the “buzzing” in the ears, and the storytelling “out of place” seem to index the crowding and stress Black Hawk experienced as a prisoner of war held by the US government.
In this essay, I read this moment in Black Hawk’s narrative as one that illuminates the intertwined experiences of fluctuating narrative voice and settler colonialism, and one that reveals the entanglements of disability and settler colonial archives and archival methods. To do so, I first close-read this interruption to suggest that it registers a relationship between settler colonialism and impairment in Black Hawk’s life. Building off of critical work that situates Life of Black Hawk as a layered, collaborative text preserving and averring many voices and stories, I suggest that the text demonstrates an intersection of archival concerns and practices specific to settler colonialism and disability studies. I theorize this relationship through the appearance of Life in twentieth-century records of the Indian Claims Commission. Finally, I conclude with a reading of the Sac and Fox Nation’s current reception of Life as a sustained interruption of settler colonialism that foregrounds ongoing tribal networks of support.
Sullivan, C. (2021). Contextualizing disability: A century of Library of Congress subject headings. Emerging Library & Information Perspectives, 4(1), 8–33. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5206/elip.v4i1.13448.
The interconnection of language and societal context is demonstrated through the Library of Congress Subject Headings surrounding disability. This study examines and compares how language encapsulates contemporary understandings of disability in the second edition (1919) and eighth edition (1975). Created and published during the so-called “Progressive Era,” the second edition emphasizes Victorian beliefs in the correspondence of morality with participation in the labour force and genetic fitness (i.e., conformity to physical and psychological norms). The language of this context further marginalized persons with disabilities. In contrast, the eighth edition marks the growing respect for and autonomy of people with disabilities, with language related to the civil rights movement, medical advances, and the replacement of ableist terms such as “Deaf and dumb” with neutral terms or self-definitions, such as “Deaf.” This evolution demonstrates the positive effects when we as librarians accept our social responsibility to eschew marginalizing language and instead use language that affirms minority identities.
Tilley, E., Christian, P., Ledger, S., & Walmsley, J. (2021). Madhouse: Reclaiming the history of learning difficulties through acting and activism. In O. Braden & T. Cook (Eds.), Learning Difficulties: Histories and Cultures [Special Issue]. Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies, 15(3), 347-363. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3828/jlcds.2021.27.
Until the very end of the twentieth century the history of learning difficulties was subsumed into other histories, of psychiatry, of special education and, indeed, of disability. Initiatives to enable people with learning difficulties and their families to record their own histories and contribute to the historical record are both recent and powerful. Much of this work has been led or supported by The Open University’s Social History of Learning Disability Research (SHLD) group and its commitment to developing “inclusive history.” The article tells the story of the Madhouse Project in which actors with learning difficulties, stimulated by the story of historian activist Mabel Cooper and supported by the SHLD group, learned about and then offered their own interpretations of that history, including its present-day resonances. Through a museum exhibition they curated, and through an immersive theatre performance, the actors used the history of institutions to alert a wider public to the abuses of the past, and the continuing marginalization and exclusion of people with learning difficulties. This is an outstanding example of history’s potential to stimulate activism.
Tumlin, Z. (2021, April 14). “A body of culture”: Disability culture in the home and archive. Folklife Magazine. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.
“Disability has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, but not the Disability community and its culture. On my mother’s side, my late grandmother had polio, and there are at least four generations of neurodivergence, including me—an Autistic who sought out and received a medical diagnosis as an adult. Growing up, I observed that in my family, disability was rarely spoken about, poorly managed, and (most importantly for this article) viewed at the individual level. After my diagnosis, I had to decide if that is what I wanted for myself, and if I did not, what my alternatives were. In this article, I will examine my grandmother’s role in my disability journey, share some of my experiences as a disabled archivist, and propose an event to promote, cultivate, and preserve Disability culture.”
Vasilakou, P., Mineiko, S., Hasioti, T. M., Gavriilidou, Z., & Drigas, A. (2022). The accessibility of visually impaired people to museums and art through ICTs. Technium Social Sciences Journal, 35(1), 263–284. DOI: https://doi.org/10.47577/tssj.v35i1.7273.
Human’s involvement with culture is a vital part of his life, but what happens when someone is blind or visually impaired (VI) and how Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) help the access to cultural locations? The difficulties and limitations that blind and visually impaired (BVI) persons face while visiting museums or art exhibitions are of high importance. These limitations concern both the access to the location and the perception of the exhibits. This bibliographic research is divided into four main parts. In the first part of our paper we will analyze the difficulties that these people face as visitors in art exhibitions and how their disabilities affect an autonomous visit. Afterwards, we will refer to the importance of the disability arts when combined with ICTs. In the next part, we will mention the projects that are already applied or those for which efforts have been made globally for their implementation. These will be accompanied by recorded feedback from blind and visually impaired visitors. Finally, we will make a scheduled visit to the Tactual Museum of Athens in order to collect material on practices used in their exhibition and we shall record reactions from visually impaired visitors.
Wang, Q. (2022). Democratizing the museum: Disability and the need for accessibility. In O. De Sanctis, J. Lundquist, S. Mohsin & Y. Jaksic (Eds.), Somatic Cartography & Stories: Mapping Meaning onto the Body [Feature Issue]. Pivot: A Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies and Thought, 9(1). DOI: https://doi.org/10.25071/2369-7326.40318.
Unbothered by disruption of body and mind, the abled body moves and acts freely without consequences. This abled body, within the vernaculars of visual culture, represents a dogmatic portrayal of naturalism that privileges itself as the normative representation of idealism. However, these sentiments affirm bias for the disabled body, as well as sensory and mental impairment, as undesirable. Historically, politically, and culturally marked by their differences, these polarities of disability and ability reveal the systematic ableism that is presented within the exhibition of museums and galleries. By examining the relationship between disability and museum studies, this paper looks at how exhibitions engage with disabilities in relation to ableism and the notions of the ideal citizen. Considering the historical, social, and political discourse of disability, this paper considers how exhibitions can confront the stigma of disability by analyzing the relationships between visual culture and disability, the universal survey museum, and its exclusion of the other. Through close examination of accessible galleries, such as Tangled Art + Disability Gallery, I argue that the democratization of museums through the inclusion of others creates inclusivity that reflects the new era of museum studies and the current construction of identity politics.
Ware, S. M., Zankowicz, K. & Sims, S. (2022). The Call for Disability Justice in Museum Education: Re-Framing Accessibility as Anti-Ableism [Special Issue]. Journal of Museum Education, 47(2).
“This issue of The Journal of Museum Education starts a conversation about how to move beyond accessibility toward anti-ableist museum education, and what such practices could look, sound, or feel like. It documents some of the work being done to establish a path forward for MadFootnote2 and disability justice in museums. The articles in this issue document, amplify, and center the practices, voices, and perspectives of Mad and disabled people doing this work, embodying the demand ‘nothing about us without us.’ A majority of our articles are written by or include an author who identifies as disabled” (p. 130).
Articles in this special issue include:
- Disability and the Inclusive Intention
- The Call for Disability Justice in Museum Education: Re-Framing Accessibility as Anti-Ableism
- Museum Education for Disability Justice and Liberatory Access
- Devisualizing the Museum: From Access to Inclusion
- Touch Points: Co-Designing Tactile Exhibition Elements with User/Experts
- Museum Crip Space, By Any Other Name
- New Foundations: Principles for Disability-Inclusive Museum Practice
- Building Anti-Ableist Museum Education Practices: A Reflection and Facilitation Toolkit
- Illness and Empathy: Promoting Anti-Ableist Practices in Art Museum Education
- Attending to Each Other: Centering Neurodivergent Museum Professionals in Attentive Facilitation
Watson, B. M., & Schaefer, B. (2023, January). Handicapped has been cancelled: The terminology and logics of disability in cultural heritage institutions. In G. Brilmyer & C. Lee (Eds.), This Feature Has Been Disabled: Critical Intersections of Disability and Information Studies [Special Issue]. First Monday, 28(1&2). DOI: https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v28i1.12898.
This paper originated from a collaborative effort between an academic and archivist and a cataloger to address the issues around the LCSH heading “Social disabilities.” In it, we examine various aspects and consequences resulting from the ways that galleries, libraries, archives, museums, and special collections (GLAMS) organize knowledge about disability and disabled users. We do this primarily through the lens of documentary analysis of cataloging and classification systems as this process, elsewhere called “the power to name” (Olson, 2002), as it is the basis for the operation of GLAMS. First, we will provide an outline and contextual information about the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), the largest and most influential subject heading vocabulary system in the world. Next, we will examine the discourse around disability in library and information science via the results of a literature review. Next, we will examine the history, transformations, use, and meaning behind the LCSH heading “Social disabilities,” as an example of breakdown in terminology. Finally, and unique to the literature, we will propose an alternative hierarchy of terms for the Persons hierarchy in LCSH and discuss other methods that catalogers may use for organizing holdings about disability.
Weisen, M. (2008). How accessible are museums today? In H. Chatterjee (Ed.), Touch in museums: Policy and practice in object handling (pp. 243-252). London: Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003135616-24.
Unfortunately disabled people are still frequently seen as a nuisance and an impediment to the ‘normal’ functioning of cultural organizations. Directors and managers would of course emphatically deny this, but. as the old proverb says, ‘the proof of the pudding lies in the eating’ and in our case, the pudding would show as barrier-free and inclusive services. This chapter looks at the wider European social and cultural policy context of making objects available for handling in museums to provide, at least, a measure of access to collections for visually impaired people. The experience of touch in museums is one of the ways of nurturing a greater diversity of human perception in an increasingly visual world. Access for disabled people can only be realized successfully if it becomes integral to everything a museum does. Museum and gallery visitors do likewise, as they explore works of art.
Wentz, B., Gorham, U., & Jaeger, P. T. (2023). Academic libraries and their legal obligation for content accessibility. In G. Brilmyer & C. Lee (Eds.), This Feature Has Been Disabled: Critical Intersections of Disability and Information Studies [Special Issue]. First Monday, 28(1&2). DOI: https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v28i1.12892.
U.S. academic libraries exist in an unusual space, as they are both providers of access to computers, the Internet, and databases and electronic products, and producers of electronic content through digital repositories and electronic journals. They are part of larger organizations, yet the other parts of these larger organizations are not libraries or even library-related. In addition, there are factors — beyond merely decision-making processes — that make accessibility a far more fraught concern for academic libraries. U.S. academic libraries are also influenced by the policies of new media content creators that maximize their profits through streaming on their own platforms. Further, academic libraries have taken on new roles related to information access, including the collation and distribution of electronic materials through campus digital repositories of preprints, theses, and other works created by faculty, staff, and students. Moreover, in some cases, libraries have stepped into the role of publisher, particularly with respect to open-access electronic journals. For people with disabilities, accessibility in all of these facets is essential for their ability to be equal users of the library. These various roles of academic libraries create a distinct set of legal, technological, and ethical pressures related to ensuring accessibility for individuals with disabilities, which will be explored in this article, along with the potential for academic libraries to become leaders in accessibility in libraries and in broader society.
Wentz, B., Lazar, J., Jaeger, P. T., & Gorham, U. (2021). A socio-legal framework for improving the accessibility of research articles for people with disabilities. Journal of Business Technology Law, 16(2), 223-257.
Within the context of scholarly research articles, the concept of open access generally refers to content that is published online, free, and immediately available. There has been much recent discussion, research, and debate over open access to research, noting that the lack of open access can limit the availability of articles to many researchers, as well as the general public. Within the United States, these discussions have primarily focused on the economic perspective—can individuals and institutions afford access to the research publications, and what is the economic impact of providing access free of charge? There have even been proposals to eliminate the copyright for academic works. Even if this economic barrier is removed, however, there is a key point that is generally left out of discussions of open access: is there really open and immediate access for everyone, if scholars and students with disabilities cannot access and use research articles? This article addresses the often-overlooked question of whether research publications are accessible for people with disabilities.
This article presents a socio-legal framework for understanding the stakeholders involved with the accessibility of research publications, specifically discussing content creators, content publishers, and content purchasers. Specifically, the article presents the idea that while U.S. disability rights laws have been used to enforce accessibility upon content purchasers, the existing legal framework for disability rights in the U.S. could also be used to enforce accessibility upon content creators and publishers, for which there is no case law yet.
White, S. (2012). Crippling the archives: Negotiating notions of disability in appraisal and arrangement and description. The American Archivist, 75(1), 109–124.
Have archivists adequately documented people with disabilities? This essay examines how disability studies provide archivists with a framework with which to understand and document disability. After defining the medical and social models of disability, this article analyzes the development of the social model emphasizing the significance of social relationships and identity construction, and recognizes its weakness. As an alternative to the social model, this paper introduces the theory of complex embodiment and demonstrates how embodiment corresponds with archival theory, especially recent literature challenging the definition of provenance. The author concludes that embodiment can be applied to archival practice during appraisal and arrangement and description.