Access Smithsonian, the central accessibility office for the Smithsonian Institution, has published a new book focused on diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion (DEAI). Their goal for the project was to generate awareness and innovation around creating accessible, interactive and inclusive museum programs and installations using universal design as the inspiration. The collaborative document, titled Inclusive Digital Interactives: Best Practices and Research, focuses on the inclusive design of digital interactives for all visitors and staff.
The publication’s authors emphasize that truly inclusive design requires a shift in attitude and the design development process. To embody this, they selected book contributors who are leaders in their fields from all across the globe. The broad consensus on how to make digital interactives accessible, inclusive, and usable is to bake that goal into the process at conception, and ensure that it is, as Sarah Banks, Media Manager of Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, notes, “…underpinned by stakeholder involvement at every stage.”
Starting in the ideation stage, it is critical to consider the audience for whom you are designing and the diverse groups of people who will interact with the installations. Museums should broaden the parameters of their own inclusive design process, but also urge technology developers to design for inclusion within their products as well.
Kathy Wahlbin, VP Enterprise Accessibility and General Manager at TPGi and Interactive Accessibility and one of the book’s contributors, says “I’ve been a longtime digital accessibility evangelist and recognized the importance of collaborating with the Smithsonian on this book. My vision of creating a more inclusive digital future aligned closely with this project.”
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