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Since the late 1980’s, the Museum of Science, Boston has employed a universal design approach to museum education. Beginning with the refurbishment of a traditional natural history diorama exhibition, universal design principles have expanded into the development of our exhibits, public programs, and evaluations. The report on this page catalogues the current approach to universal design for museum education utilized at the Museum of Science in its exhibits, programs, and evaluations.
We are in the process of expanding this document into a website, so check back here soon.
Our approach closely reflects the framework for inclusion laid out in the Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE) Inclusion, Disabilities, and Informal Science Learning report. This framework emphasizes the physical, cognitive, and social inclusion of visitors with disabilities in museum experiences. Considerations for physical inclusion are informed by the principles for universal design, which focus on environments and products. Considerations for cognitive inclusion are framed by the principles of universal design for learning, which focus on understanding the “what,” “how,” and “why” of learning.
Using a universal design approach in museum education ensures that experiences are designed with inclusion in mind. Visitors with disabilities should be considered a part of the core audience, and educational opportunities should be developed so that people with a wide range of abilities and disabilities can interact without relying on specialized devices or other members of their group. We are constantly revising and improving our approach based on feedback from people with disabilities, research and practice at other organizations, and technological advances.
This website will be intended for museum professionals. Visitors to the Museum of Science who want specific information on accessibility offerings to plan their visit should consult the Museum’s website about accessibility resources for visitors.
Illustration showing a cane detectable object in a space with head clearance under eighty inches.
Illustration of visitors in wheelchairs reaching for exhibit components without any obstructions.