Museum access: two case studies of outreach programs that engage audiences with disabilities

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Copyright: McMillen, Rebecca Sarah
This study examines two museum outreach programs developed for people with disabilities at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (BMoCA) in Boulder, Colorado, U.S.A and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) in Sydney, Australia. The purpose of this research is to investigate the BMoCA and the MCA’s educational outreach programs that engage people with disabilities using the nine-step strategy of accessibility for museum visitors written by John P.S. Salmen and published by the American Association of Museums (AAM) in Everyone’s Welcome: The Americans with Disabilities Act and Museums. This study is a qualitative case study research design. The two research questions of this study are: (1) How do two contemporary art museums incorporate recommended accessibility guidelines into their disability outreach programs in order to become more accessible to people with disabilities? and (2) What strategies can art museums implement to become accessible for all individuals, including people with disabilities? The results reveal that art museums in both Australia and the U.S. have implemented strategies which resemble those found in the Everyone’s Welcome document in order to provide accessible educational programs for people with disabilities. The MCA and the BMoCA have made significant efforts to improve disability access in their educational outreach programs according to Salmen’s Everyone’s Welcome guidelines. Salmen’s ninestep strategy of accessibility, however, is merely a starting point to address the need for improved disability access in art museums. Opportunities remain for both museums to further meet the needs of people with disabilities. Moreover, until all art museums fully adopt and implement recommended accessibility guidelines, like those found in Everyone’s Welcome, the community of people with disabilities will remain socially excluded from art museums.
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McMillen, Rebecca Sarah
McDonald, Gay
Snepvangers, Kim
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