Posts Tagged 'accessibility'

Friday Photos: To Denver We Go!

Each of the McDermott Interns here at the DMA have the opportunity to participate in an approved professional development opportunity. In early February, I took a trip up to Denver to learn from their Education staff and observe some of their Access Programs. I also connected with Access Gallery, a smaller local nonprofit. I had never been to Colorado and was blown away by both the geographical beauty and the warm welcome I received from each of the museum and art professionals with whom I was able to speak.

On my first full day, I met up with three different members of the Education Department at the Denver Art Museum, then observed their Art and About Tour, which is similar to the Dallas Museum of Art’s Meaningful Moments program that serves individuals with early stage dementia and their family members or caregivers. On this tour, we went to the Japanese art galleries and learned about Japanese tea ceremonies and Samurai.

Here are some photo highlights from my trip!

On day two, I met with the Director of the Access Gallery, who gave me a tour of their space and of their current gallery show, Stick’em Up Chuck, a show of artwork made out of donated stickers.

Take a peek at some of the students’ artworks, their work space, and one of the pieces hanging in Stick’em up Chuck!

The Access Gallery is a drop-in style art-making space where teens and young adults can learn about art, develop their skills, and gain economic opportunity. The students all have a chance to sell their individual art pieces in the gallery’s store, as well as contribute to the larger pieces that are on sale as part of the current gallery show. Through these opportunities, mentally or physically disabled students who may not be able to hold a traditional job gain access to valuable skills like teamwork, time management, and listening to a boss.

As a growing museum professional, this trip was truly enlightening and I’m so grateful to have gotten to experience the incredible programming going on in Denver!

Until next time!

Grace Diepenbrock
McDermott Intern for Family and Access Teaching

Help Needed: Museum Accessibility Research

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We love collaboration here at the DMA, and when it comes to teamwork, Texas Women’s University occupational therapy students are fantastic additions to our team! Since 2010, the DMA has held quarterly-occurring Autism Awareness Family Celebrations for children with autism and their families to enjoy activities in the Museum before it opens to the public. We have been partnering with TWU’s occupational therapy students led by Dr. Tina Fletcher, OTR, EdD, MFA during these events. The students host the TWU Sensory Room during every Autism Awareness Family Celebration by creating a quiet space filled with weighted blankets, tunnels, and resources for families.

One of Dr. Fletcher’s students, Jennifer Burns, is conducting research about the accessibility of museums for children with special needs here in the United States and in other countries. Please see details from Jennifer below about how you can help:
 

Texas Woman’s University is conducting research investigating parent’s perception of museum accessibility for children with special needs. The study is looking at museum accessibility domestically and internationally.

To be able to participate in this study, you must be a parent or guardian of a child with special needs and have visited at least one museum in the United States and/or abroad. The questionnaire will take 30-60 minutes to complete.

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We appreciate your contributions toward museum accessibility research!

Emily Wiskera
Manager of Access Programs

All Access Guide to the Museum: Dementia

We believe museums should be fun and engaging for everyone, so in this month’s installment of All Access Guide to the Museum, we’d like to share some tips for creating an enjoyable visit for visitors with dementia.

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  • Plan your visit in advance through the DMA’s website to find information about parking, dining options, and more.
  • Take a load off! Wheelchairs are available free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis. All Museum galleries are accessible to wheelchair users and those who may want to avoid stairs.
  • You don’t have to see it all in one day! Plan to look at only a few works of art that spark your interest and take breaks to sit and reflect. General admission to the Museum is free and you can return again and again!
  • Consider the interests of the person you care for when choosing which galleries of the Museum to visit. You can explore the Museum’s collection online in advance, or see what catches your eyes when you arrive. If the person you care for has a special interest, try searching the Museum’s online collection for related works of art, such as “dog” or “Italy.
  • Spend time with a work of art. Begin by just looking and reflecting. Ask the person you care for to describe what they see using questions about things like colors or shapes. Encourage them to express themselves through movement, such as acting out the facial expression or pose of a portrait. Create your own story to go with a work of art.27800664023_4f799bba63_k
  • Bring some small sensory objects that connect to a work of art. For example, if you are admiring a beach scene, feeling a seashell may inspire more connections to the work of art. You can also listen to music with headphones or repurpose old spice jars into scent jars to evoke the smells of an object.1472657932-dmameaningfulmoments_al001
  • If the person you care for connects with a work of art, take note! You can revisit the object again from the comfort of your home through the DMA’s online collection. Print out images of the object and hang them up in the room of the person you care for, so they can revisit and enjoy them often.
  • If you prefer to plan your visit during non-peak hours, you may want to come September through May (Tuesday-Friday, after 1:00 pm). If you are planning your visit during Summer, Spring Break, or holidays, you may want to visit Tuesday-Friday, 11:00 am to 1:00 pm.
  • Some of our galleries are often less crowded and quieter than other areas of the Museum: Wendy & Emery Reves Collection, Decorative Arts & Design, Conservation Studio and Gallery, and Ancient American Art. A map of the Museum is available here. 17170929235_a4656f016b_k

We invite visitors with early stage dementia and their care partners to participate in our monthly art program on the third Tuesday of every month. Designed specifically for individuals with early stage dementia and their family members or caregivers, Meaningful Moments includes a gallery discussion, an interactive component, and an art-making activity. Participants will have the chance to relax and connect with art in the galleries, share stories, and gain inspiration.

You can find out more from our recent Meaningful Moments profile in the Dallas Morning News. The program is free, but reservations are required and space is limited. For more information or to register, call 214-922-1324 or e-mail access@DMA.org.

Emily Wiskera
Manager of Access Programs

All Access Guide to the Museum: Autism

For any visitor, going to a museum has the potential to be an overwhelming experience. Large crowds, new sensory experiences, an unknown environment, and expectations of best behavior can act as barriers to enjoying a day at the museum. This can be especially true for visitors with special needs. But is that a reason to avoid museums altogether? No way!

In this series, we’ll explore tips and tricks for creating a great Museum experience for visitors with special needs. First up in our All Access Guide to the Museum series is Autism!

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  • Reviewing a social story before your Museum visit may help your child understand what to expect. This can meet a need for structure and predictability, and help to reduce the stress or confusion your child may experience throughout their visit. Find a social story for your DMA visit here!
  • Make your visit child-sized and focus on just a few works of art that spark your child’s curiosity. Don’t feel like you need to see everything in one day. General admission to the Museum is free and you can return again and again!
  • Pass the reins to the kids and follow their interests! Let them choose where to go and what to see, then give their imaginations a workout. You might search for favorite colors or animals, act out a story you see in the artwork, or play a game of I Spy.
  • Children may prefer to sit and participate in quiet activities, such as drawing or playing a game. Find places within the galleries that allow for quiet time, such as one of the benches found around the Museum or open spaces to sit on the floor. Bring along a sketchbook and colored pencils to experience the art in an interactive way.
  • Take a break! Adding breaks to your Museum visit may help children spend more time touring the galleries and increase their overall enjoyment. Find a quiet place to take a break that is free of auditory, visual, and tactile stimulation. For example, the walls in the Ancient American galleries are a calm, muted grey tone complimented by low lighting. This creates a more soothing atmosphere for children who are sensitive to bright light or may become distracted with too much visual stimulation.

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  • Children are welcome to wear noise canceling headphones or listen to music during their time at the Museum. This may be helpful if they respond negatively to unexpected or loud noises, hold their hands over their ears to protect them from sounds, become distracted around a lot of sounds, or can’t work with background noise.
  • Allowing children to carry a small object or favorite toy during their visit may enable them to focus more fully.
  • Children who have sensory seeking tendencies may display a need to touch certain surfaces or textures. Providing them with opportunities throughout their Museum visit to touch and interact with exhibits may be helpful in increasing their enjoyment. Although the majority of items in the Museum should not be touched, a few galleries do include interactive elements, such as the playable thumb piano in the African gallery. For more interactive experiences, head down to the Center for Creative Connections on the first floor where you can visit Arturo’s Nest and the Young Learners Gallery. Both are “please touch” spaces where kids can crawl, explore, and play.
  •  If you prefer to plan your visit during non-peak hours, you may want to come September through May (Tuesday-Friday, after 1:00 pm). If you are planning your visit during Summer, Spring Break, or holidays, you may want to visit Tuesday-Friday, 11:00 to 1:00 pm.

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  • Visit the Museum during our next Autism Awareness Family Celebration, when we open two hours early for children with autism and their families to enjoy art together! Families can participate in art-making activities in the studio, enjoy an interactive performance by our music therapist, listen to an in-gallery story time, or relax in our quiet sensory room facilitated by occupational therapy students from Texas Woman’s University.

We hope to see you soon!

Emily Wiskera
McDermott Graduate Intern for Family and Access Teaching

Mi Museo Es Tu Museo

Learning English as a second language while living in a Spanish-speaking home didn’t come without its challenges—it took me years before I realized “better late than ever” wasn’t a phrase, and I could write an entire dictionary of hybrid words my siblings and I used by mistake (e.g. “moona,” or moon + luna). In spite of the occasional linguistic faux pas, having the opportunity to communicate in both languages has been incredibly rewarding in my personal life and my experience as an educator.

While I didn’t grow up in Texas, my experience growing up bilingual is pretty common throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area. More than a third of the population in Texas speaks a language other than English at home, and DFW contains the 6th largest Spanish-speaking population in the United States. Current research demonstrates that both English-learners and native English-speakers benefit from educational settings that foster bilingual literacy. With all of this in mind, how does the DMA factor the demographics of its audience and the scholarship on bilingual education to engage Spanish-speaking visitors?

Since the Center for Creative Connections (C3) first began implementing bilingual signage on table prompts and wall text, the DMA has introduced a number of additional resources for visitors who want to engage with art by reading, writing, or listening in Spanish. Through a collaboration with Make Art with Purpose, C3 produced the Translating Culture and Translating Culture II gallery guides based on community voices. The 2015 exhibition Inca: Conquests of the Andes/Los Incas y las conquistas de los Andes featured English and Spanish text on its labels and wall didactics, as well as an interactive art scavenger hunt available in both languages. Visitors can also find extended labels in English and Spanish related to two works by Frida Kahlo currently on view in Level 4.

Here are some more bilingual resources we’ve introduced during the past year:

First Tuesday Spanish Family Tours

On the first Tuesday of the month from September through May, visitors ages 0-5 and their grown-ups are invited to join Museum staff for interactive tours throughout the galleries in both English and Spanish. This past year, I had the pleasure of leading families on Spanish tours inspired by nature, sculptures, robots, pop art, and more. Additionally, the signs and schedules for First Tuesday this past year were printed in both English and Spanish.

Create an exvoto / Crea un exvoto Activities

The inspiration behind this table activity in the Interactive Gallery came from the exvotos on view in C3, which contain Spanish text describing everyday miracles and expressions of gratitude. When Community Engagement staff designed an off-site version of this activity at the 2016 AVANCE Latino Street Fest, we included bilingual exvoto instructions and templates giving visitors the option to write in English or in Spanish.

Young Learners Gallery

Part of the recent redesign for this interactive learning space includes bilingual wall text and activity prompts for children ages 5-8 and their families. Visitors can explore lines and line-making using English and Spanish text, and the various hands-on activities in the space were designed for a number of different learning styles.

Spanish Family Guides (COMING SOON!)

Visitors can pick up Arturo Family Gallery Guides for a fun way to explore the galleries at their own pace. Each one contains activities and questions (and maybe a few puns) for kids and their grown-ups to make meaningful connections with pieces throughout the DMA. Keep an eye out for Spanish language family guides coming soon!

Museums around the country are engaging linguistically diverse audiences in innovative ways, including video guidesco-taught bilingual gallery lessons, and workshops for adult immigrants. What other ways have you seen museums welcome visitors with diverse language backgrounds?

Paulina Lopez
McDermott Graduate Intern for Visitor Engagement

 

The Signs They Are A-Changin’: Bilingual Museum Signage

FullSizeRenderLast week, while vacationing in San Juan with my family, we stopped by the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico. When I travel to a new city, I always like to visit the museums to see their collections and learn about their educational initiatives. Puerto Rico is a US Territory, but it’s quite a different place than any of the fifty states. Though my family is bilingual, I’m a non-Spanish speaker, so I was pleased to learn that Puerto Rico is bilingual. Many residents speak both Spanish and English and, to my delight, all of the museum signage was bilingual! As a museum educator who has been involved in making signage more accessible, it was amazing to walk in and find that everything from the museum map to the artwork labels were in both Spanish and English. (Click on the images below to enlarge.)

 

Last year Steve Yalowitz wrote a guest post on Nina Simon’s blog about the significance of bilingual signage. As co-author of the Bilingual Exhibit Research Initiative, which strove to better understand bilingual labels from the visitor perspective, Yalowitz offered these three points as significant findings:

  1. Code-switching – We found lots of evidence of effortless switching back-and-forth between English and Spanish….The power of bilingual text is that it’s bilingual – it provides access in two languages, and code switching lets you understand and express yourself from two different perspectives, with two sets of vocabulary.

  2. Facilitation – We researched intergenerational groups, so it’s not surprising that many of the adults saw their role as facilitator as essential to their own and the group’s success in the exhibition….With Spanish labels available, adults were able to facilitate, guiding the conversations and interactions, showing their children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews where to focus and how to interact. Adults who were previously dependent on their children could now take the lead as confident facilitators.

  3. Emotional reaction – This study found that the presence of bilingual interpretation had a profound emotional effect on the groups. Groups said they enjoyed the visit more, felt more valued by the institution, and many said having bilingual interpretation changed how they felt about the institution.

When I read Yalowitz’s article last year, it opened my eyes to the experiences of non-English speakers in museums with English only text. But the experience was made even more tangible as an English speaker visiting the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico. Had the text only been in Spanish, I would have had to ask my daughter or significant other to translate for me. This would not have been impossible, but rather inconvenient. If I stopped to look closely at a work of art that they were not interested in, I would have to call them back and interrupt their experience to get assistance understanding the label. Having bilingual text allowed me to take on the role of facilitator, reading the label and prompting my daughter with questions, and allowed my family to switch between Spanish and English comfortably. Furthermore, going beyond bilingual label text and providing bilingual directional signage was significant as well: we were each able to easily and equally participate in the entire museum experience.

Over the last few years, the Center for Creative Connections (C3) has begun to incorporate bilingual text and voices in a variety of ways. This initiative began soon after the DMA moved to free general admission. With this change in our admission policy, our overall number of visitors and the diversity of those visitors increased. The need for accessible signage for Spanish speakers was apparent, so in late 2012 we started to test out the use of bilingual prompts at the C3 Art Spot.

This was the perfect place to start because it is one of the busiest spaces in the Center for Creative Connections. It was also easy to begin using bilingual text in these kinds of prompts because these signs typically change more often and are easier to alter than more permanent wall signage. In 2014, we began to use bilingual activity prompts in the main C3 Gallery as well. This is a prompt for an activity where visitors use a light box and reproductions of works of art from the Museum’s collection to create hybrid creatures.

These small steps have been leading up to a bigger change. This year when we installed our Community at LARGE project, both English and Spanish text was included not only in the table prompt, but also on the wall text.

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As we continue to install new works of art in the Center for Creative Connections, our hope is to integrate bilingual text throughout the space.

Jessica Fuentes
C3 Gallery Manager


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