Developing accessible websites and digital media benefits everyone. We share here a number of good practice ideas, guidelines and links to help you.
European Parliament legislative resolution of 26 February 2014 on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the accessibility of public sector bodies’ websites (COM(2012)0721 – C7-0394/2012 – 2012/0340(COD))
Web content accessibility guidelines
ISO 9241-110:2006 sets forth ergonomic design principles formulated in general terms (i.e. presented without reference to situations of use, application, environment or technology) and provides a framework for applying those principles to the analysis, design and evaluation of interactive systems.
The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) is part of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and provides guidelines, technical reports, educational materials and other documents that relate to web content, web browsers and media players, authoring tools, and evaluation tools.
WebAIM is a non-profit organization based at Utah State University in Logan, Utah. It provides information, training, resources, guidelines and standards for Web accessibility and disability access to the Web.
General advice, relating to all kinds of disabilities
Southwestern Federation of Museums and Art Galleries
Avoluntary subscription based organisation, representing the museum sector along with Art Galleries in the South West of England, being ‘the one truly representative and independent voice for museums and the paid and volunteer staff who work in them’. The website provides a wealth of resources around accessibility and digital resources, including:
A reference for inclusive game design – guidance, examples and advice on why and how to cater for gamers with disabilities and other impairments
Speeches and audio recordings from a roundtable event that brought together a small number of museum professionals to discuss how museums could thrive in the increasingly digital landscape. The event was hosted by Oxford ASPIRE – a consortium of the Oxford University Museums and the Oxfordshire County Council Museums Service.
Includes discussions on how to make the museum more accessible for all vistors. See e.g. an entry on how to undertake video subtitling.
An outline of what IBM considers to be best practice for incorporating users with disabilities into usability testing activities
WAVE is developed and made available as a free community service by WebAIM. Originally launched in 2001, WAVE has been used to evaluate the accessibility of millions of web pages.
Formal validation, endorsed by W3C WAI, of HTML and XML. Choice of report formats including cross-referencing errors to the code.
Compiled by W3C WAI
Takes a general view of facilitating effective access to a digital resource and then examines more closely the issues of usability and then accessibility. It is intended to be of use to collection managers wishing to grant access to a digital resource.
Creating Accessible, Rich-Media Learning Experiences Online
“Digitising your archives benefits museum professionals and audiences alike, says the Imperial War Museum London”
HASTAC (“haystack”) is an alliance of individuals and institutions inspired by the possibilities that new technologies offer us for shaping how we learn, teach, communicate, create, and organize our local and global communities. This is an article of interest from the many blogs on the site.
Paper from the EVA (Electronic viaualisation and the Arts) conference
Details: Bowen J (2003) Web Access to Cultural Heritage for the Disabled. In James Hemsley, Vito Cappellini and Gerd Stanke (eds.), EVA 2003 London Conference Proceedings, University College London, UK, 22-26 July 2003, pages s1:1-11.
Details: Weisen M (one of our Trustees!!)(2010) Accessible Digital Culture for Disabled People – Challenge of the Century.
This paper presents five best practice examples in the use of digital media in the
service of access to museums for disabled people and provides links to further
examples. These examples demonstrate that a shared cultural experience for disabled
people is a field for outstanding creative engagement and not a dull duty. It sets these practices against the background of the barriers disabled people face – in particular barriers people with a sensory impairment and people with a learning difficulty face to intellectual access to collections. It presents international policies which clearly establish the cultural rights of disabled people. It shows that governments worldwide do no do enough to implement these policies – and thus increase existing barriers.
Digital access to culture
Details: Weisen M (2012) Digital access to culture, Journal of Assistive Technologies, 6(2), pp.163 – 166
Discusses technology use in the heritage sector and the work of the Jodi Mattes Trust
Access Is Not a Text Alternative
Details: Brown S (2009) Access Is Not a Text Alternative The Journal of Museum Education, Vol. 34, No. 3, Building Diversity in Museums (FALL 2009), pp. 223-234
Museums and other heritage institutions have a duty in most cases to make their contents and services as widely available, relevant, and usable as is reasonably possible. Web delivery can help by making it possible to access content and services in locations and at times more convenient to the individual: internet access in the home/internet café/public library, mobile phones, hand held PDAs, podcasts on MP3 players etc. although there are of course digital divide issues. But access is not the same as accessibility. Accessibility refers to the ease with which a wide range of users, including those with disabilities of various kinds, can use the content and services on offer. Despite legislation in many countries making accessibility a legal requirement, many museum Web sites, including those of leading national institutions, fall short of the principle of equality of experience for all users. Possible reasons for this are complex: lack of awareness and understanding, time, skills and know-how. This paper focuses on two of these: understanding and know-how, discussing the limitations of current technology-focused guidelines and describes a set of heuristics based on a holistic human-centred approach, that are simultaneously more manageable and yet more inclusive. These “rules of thumb” can be quickly and easily implemented using simple, readily available, and free tools and techniques to assess the accessibility of Web site designs.
Museums and Technology: Being Inclusive Helps Accessibility for All
Details: Lisney, E., Bowen, J. P., Hearn, K. and Zedda, M. (2013), Museums and Technology: Being Inclusive Helps Accessibility for All. Curator: The Museum Journal, 56: 353–361.
This paper explores accessibility issues for museums in the context of growing dependence on technology. The background of these issues is described, along with the evolution from physical access to digital access—for example, via the Web—and, increasingly, mobile technology. The authors are people with different disabilities and they describe personal experiences, giving a sense of the various barriers and benefits that are involved. The aim of this paper is to provide museums with a disabled person’s point of view, which could help in inspiring improvements for the future. Often the task is one of understanding as much as financial constraints, since many solutions can be implemented at little additional cost.
Providing Access to Engagement in Learning: The Potential of Universal Design for Learning in Museum Design.
Details: Rappolt-Schlichtmann, G. and Daley, S. G. (2013), Providing Access to Engagement in Learning: The Potential of Universal Design for Learning in Museum Design. Curator: The Museum Journal, 56: 307–321.
Following passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), many museums improved the accessibility of their facilities. Even so, individuals with disabilities still lag behind in participation and engagement in museum experiences. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) provides an alternate model for the design of museum programs and exhibit spaces, one that is more aligned to progressive concepts of disability, providing not only physical access but also access to engagement in learning. In this article we argue that UDL has the potential to substantially improve the design of informal learning environments. Through two illustrative examples, we describe how the UDL design guidelines can be used to improve the probability that engagement will occur as individuals interact with exhibits, programs, and people in museums.
Details: Han Y, Durlak M (2013) Museum Accessibility Research into Disabilities, Precedents & Relevant User Scenarios .
researches and develops means of improving access, interpretation and understanding of the environment – rural and urban, natural and built – with a special emphasis on architecture and art, and particularly for those with visual impairments.
This promotes the creation of an Accessible Curriculum For Students With Disabilities through making freely available informative publications downloadable from their website
A collection of training resources in standards-based web design, including some accessibility-specific modules.
Open Exhibits is a National Science Foundation (NSF) sponsored initiative that looks to transform the way in which museums and other informal learning institutions produce and share computer-based exhibits. Open Exhibits is both a collection of software and a growing community of practice.
The website includes downloads to enable you to, for example, develop exhibits without programming; and tutorials such as ‘Beginners Guide Two Ways To Create Multitouch Exhibits’.