Enhancing Access to Our Exhibits
More and more people are coming to the Missouri History Museum each year for the chance to experience the stories that helped shape St. Louis and the surrounding area, and we couldn’t be happier to see them. But we found ourselves wondering how to make it possible for everyone who enters the Museum to have a worthwhile experience. Although the Museum is physically accessible, how could we make it more intellectually accessible? How could we create a welcoming environment for someone who is blind, visually impaired, deaf, or hard of hearing?
Our solution was to launch two pilot programs aimed toward remedying the lack of accessibility in the cultural landscape of the St. Louis metro area.
Access Tours open up exhibits in new ways for visitors with disabilities. We currently offer two types of Access Tours:
Later this month we’ll add a third type of Access Tour for visitors with memory loss. These tours will be offered in partnership with the St. Louis chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.
All of our Access Tours are free, but they do require reservations.
We’ve partnered with DEAF Inc. to add QR codes to about half of the audio stops in Route 66. Visitors can use a QR code app on their smartphones or tablets to scan these codes and access videos of ASL interpreters signing the audio. Having these ASL videos—as opposed to simply having transcripts of the audio stops—allows those who are deaf or hard of hearing to pick up on speakers’ tones. It also allows young children who have hearing problems to access these exhibit components even if they can’t read yet.
Although these programs are just a start of what our Museum can do to create a more accessible environment, we’re proud to offer them and excited to interact with those who once may have thought that they wouldn’t or couldn’t have a fulfilling visit here. After all, we want the Museum to feel like it belongs to everyone, because this is everyone’s history.
—Nicole Smith, Membership & Data Coordinator and member of the Accessibility Committee