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Sessions: Accessibility [clear filter]
Friday, November 6


Accessibility for Digital Products: Tips from the Met App Case Study
Many of us are responsible for delivering accessible digital experiences—products and services that all people, including those with disabilities and special needs can access. But too few of us have practical experience in meeting accessibility goals. This session will provide a few general tips to turn such goals into an achievable set of requirements, and fulfill them on your next digital project. Along the way, we will present challenges faced and key insights learned while working together on the Met app, the flagship mobile app for the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Sina Bahram

President, Prime Access Consulting, Inc.
Digital accessibility (covering interactives, apps, websites, policy, and strategy)
avatar for Liz Filardi

Liz Filardi

Producer, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Liz Filardi is a Producer at The Met, where she manages mobile projects in all stages of development from early research to public launch and beyond. She has produced over a dozen mobile and tablet apps from games to storybooks to utilities, some of which have received honors from... Read More →

Friday November 6, 2015 9:00am - 9:15am
Great Lakes A1 1300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55403, United States


Don’t Redesign: Realign! The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s Website Makeover
Website redesigns are expensive and time consuming, so if you need to refresh your institution’s online presence, don’t redesign—realign. The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF) recently addressed this challenge with its websites for the de Young Museum, the Legion of Honor, and the FAMSF parent organization. The FAMSF web team recently realigned its websites in response to changing trends and user feedback.

This presentation outlines the steps taken to update the look and functionality of the FAMSF websites without committing to a full redesign effort and working within existing brand guidelines. Instead of overhauling the institutional branding of FAMSF, a traditionally costly endeavor, the web team set about refreshing the information architecture of the website. Updating the menu bar items, design, and page structure would set the foundation for future branding redesigns and provided a cost-effective solution to improving the user experience—and the SEO and functionality—of the website.

The project was accomplished in three stages. First, the web team upgraded to Drupal 7 for greater functionality and security. Second, the basic web design of the three websites was refreshed, based on existing brand guidelines and site structure. And, third, the navigation was rearranged based on institutional goals, user feedback and research in order to generate a better experience and tweak the user interface in response to navigation.Implementing these incremental changes to the design and navigation of the website, rather than conforming to the macro-evolutionary idea of redesigning it, proved a great way to extend our investment while keeping our website updated, user friendly, and functional. This presentation seeks to unpack the technical process and reasoning behind this example of technical evolution, an effective and important strategy for non-profit institutions to employ.

avatar for Tricia Robson

Tricia Robson

Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Director of Digital Strategy
Tricia Robson is the Director of Digital Strategy at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, which encompasses both the de Young and Legion of Honor museums. Prior to working at the Fine Arts Museums, Tricia worked in analytics and advertising at Google Inc. and in the Curatorial... Read More →

Friday November 6, 2015 9:00am - 9:15am
Harriet Hyatt Regency Minneapolis 1300 Nicollet Mall Minneapolis, MN 55403


Digital Accessibility and the Senses
This case study lays out the theoretical foundation of a project conducted through the Smithsonian Accessibility Program to explore “sense chords”: the complex interplay of simultaneous sensory input.

In a normative understanding of the senses, each sense note is tied to a body part: noses smell, ears hear, eyes see, etc. But the smell of a rose is inseparable from the color of petals on the lips or the sound of a siren passing during the moment of inhalation. Our surroundings are always striking sense chords—although we are often unaware of what we are experiencing or how it affects us. The same is true in museums, where visuality dominates. When engaged, the “other senses” tend to be solitary notes in service of the visual.

Through considerations of accessibility for people who are blind and have low-vision, this project examines alternative approaches to the senses, wherein sight is decentered as the primary ”voice” of museums. We pose the questions: how might experiences of the disability community inform new sensory considerations and trigger new modes of engagement; what digital accessibility practices can museums employ to rebalance the senses for all people? This case study will provide an overview of the methods, the background research, and the findings to date.


Lesley Kadish

Fellow, Smithsonian Institution

Friday November 6, 2015 9:30am - 9:45am
Great Lakes A1 1300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55403, United States


Innovations in Accessibility
The National Park Service recently commissioned a pilot program to produce a mobile guide for vision impaired users at the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site visitor center in West Branch Iowa. iBeacons were used to trigger audio descriptions of nearby exhibits while users browsed through the space.We would like to share our experience and learning points and how we solved challenges related to designing a UI exclusively for accessibility purposes and triggering via iBeacons.

The process of designing the UX for an audio description-only interactive became a science unto itself and it meant letting go of conventional design aspirations in favor of a singular focus on voiceover interaction. Now what did we learn? We’ll share insights into the design, testing and iterating process as we refined the guide to provide an appropriate way of integrating manual navigation with automatic triggering. We’ll also share our approach for solving the technology riddles to make iBeacons work in a room where exhibits were spaced out by only 2-3 meters. As of May 2015 the project is still in beta but will be finished in June and we will have ample feedback and post-release learning points to share in time for November.


Juan Sanabria

(Director of Product Development and User Experience, GuideOne mobile

Friday November 6, 2015 9:45am - 10:00am
Great Lakes A1 1300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55403, United States


Video beyond the Visual: How Captioning and Description-Writing Make Us Better Producers
This panel of experts will discuss approaches to creating a video experience that builds a stronger and more inclusive narrative.

First, a walk through of processes for transcription editing, captioning, translation, and writing good audio description. This establishes a platform for the second part, the bigger question–How does the process of transcribing voice to text and describing the visual throughout a production improve the quality of our videos? Writing in video production can be an undervalued part of the process in museum production and many times is relegated to an after thought in context of captioning. Through examination of past productions and self-directed exercises the panelists will share learnings and techniques, gathered through an ongoing conversation about production tactics and accessibility in video, that can be brought back to your own practice.

Sina Barham (Prime Access Consulting) will kick off the discussion, explaining the basics of accessibility in video with insightful examples that specifically address captioning and audio description techniques. Producers Jonathan Munar (Art21) and Anna Chiaretta Lavatelli (Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago) will share their methods developed to create more inclusive content and demonstrate the use of writing in their production processes.

The second half of the panel will be dedicated to revealing how their work with Sina actually builds on the core principles of production to make videos that are not only more inclusive but, as the panelists propose, are also of better quality holistically.

avatar for Anna Chiaretta Lavatelli

Anna Chiaretta Lavatelli

Director of Digital Media, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
I am engaged in strategizing the use of video and digital technology in the museum while creating dialogue about the potential of production methods to re-think how (and why) we produce various forms of digital content in context of the museum. I am looking to make connections across... Read More →


Sina Bahram

President, Prime Access Consulting, Inc.
Digital accessibility (covering interactives, apps, websites, policy, and strategy)

Jonathan Munar

Director of Digital Media and Strategy, ART21

Friday November 6, 2015 2:00pm - 3:00pm
Minnetonka Hyatt Regency Minneapolis 1300 Nicollet Mall Minneapolis, MN 55403
Saturday, November 7


Accessible Apps: Two Approaches to Developing Mobile Products That Utilize Principles of Universal Design
Universal Design refers to a broad spectrum of ideas meant to produce products that are inherently accessible to people with disabilities. However by implementing these principles we can create experiences that benefit all users and discover new definitions of accessibility as it applies to all museum visitors. This session will feature an existing app being redesigned for use at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian and an IMLS grant funded app development project that have each utilized the Principles of Universal Design in their development.

At the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), location aware technologies and a mobile app will be used to create an experience allows low sight, blind and non-English speaking audiences to freely access exhibition content. In this project, the complete wall text, rack rail information and images for the exhibition The Great Inka Road: Engineering an Empire, opening June 25, 2015, will be grouped into individual “stories” that users can access via the STQRY app (www.stqry.com). Using beacon technology, users will be sent notifications when they enter one of eleven sections of the gallery and offered wall text stories in each of these areas. These stories will be accessible via the VoiceOver screen reader, Zoom screen enlarger, and in guided access mode and automatically translated into 90 languages based on the device language setting. The app will include settings that allow users to choose to view selected highlights of the exhibition thereby providing useful functionality for all visitors to this exhibit. The redesign of the STQRY app and the concept behind making available the entire wall text of the exhibition leverages the principles of universal design. There will not be a version of the app or this tour created for blind users, rather an inclusive tour for all visitors that encourages participation by vision-impaired and non-English speaking visitors. With this project, we hope to provide a model for use in any museum.

The goal of Digita11y App is to create an opensource solution for museums that increases accessibility to collections by adding to the museum’s body of accessible mobile content through crowdsourcing verbal description, American Sign Language video content, and translations of other spoken and signed languages. Funded by a grant from the IMLS, educators, technologists, accessibility professionals, and artists from the Smithsonian Institution, the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, the Peabody Essex Museum, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Prime Access Consulting, and Halsey Burgund comprise the Digita11y team that are developing the app utilizing universal design principles. Members of the Digita11y team have successfully prototyped a mobile app based on an open-source audio platform Roundware (Roundware.org). Roundware is a flexible, distributed framework that collects, stores, organizes and re-presents audio content through which visitors can contribute verbal descriptions of collection objects. When played back through the app, the crowdsourced audio enables everyone, including people who are blind or have low vision, to “see” through the eyes of others. To further support the needs of visitors to museums and cultural sites, and in particular, those who are blind or have low vision, the project aims to develop the Digita11y App platform to be scalable with a number of leading technology solutions for wayfinding and interior location-based services.

This session will present mobile projects that have been built and redesigned using the Principles of Universal Design but most importantly emphasize that a museum that is not accessible is not just failing on its mission with a small percentage of its visitors; it is missing the most transformational opportunity since the Internet to provide deeper engagement with its collections and relevance for all of its audiences.


Sina Bahram

President, Prime Access Consulting, Inc.
Digital accessibility (covering interactives, apps, websites, policy, and strategy)

Daniel Davis

Manager, Media Group, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian
Let's talk about Universal Design, mobile, multi-touch table experiences and the emotional power of audio experiences..
avatar for Nancy Proctor

Nancy Proctor

Deputy Director for Digital Experience and Communications, Baltimore Museum of Art
Nancy Proctor is Deputy Director for Digital Experience and Communications at the Baltimore Museum of Art and Co-chair of Museums and the Web. Previously she headed up Mobile Strategy and Initiatives at the Smithsonian Institution (2010-2014), and New Media Initiatives at the Smithsonian's... Read More →

Saturday November 7, 2015 11:30am - 12:30pm
Calhoun Hyatt Regency Minneapolis 1300 Nicollet Mall Minneapolis, MN 55403