SEnsory Tools Project

A three-year, IMLS National Leadership Grant supported project focusing on developing a free, digital publication titled 'Sensory Tools for Interpreting Historic Sites' that will offer strategies for increasing visitor engagement through interpretation that is accessible for visitors with disabilities and achievable by historic sites of all sizes.

A man is using a sonar interactive exhibit. He is wearing headphones and facing a touch screen that says “What sound do you hear?” with icons of sea creatures. Above that screen is another screen illustrating the sound.

About

The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum and New York University’s Ability Project are embarking on a project to tackle the inherent accessibility challenges faced by museums that interpret historic sites. This three-year project will focus on developing a free, digital publication titled Sensory Tools for Interpreting Historic Sites that will offer strategies for increasing visitor engagement through interpretation that is accessible for visitors with disabilities and achievable by historic sites of all sizes. Sensory Tools will outline a series of design processes and solutions that take into consideration a range of needs related to visitor movement, vision, hearing, range of motion, cognitive comprehension and sensory experiences. Sensory Tools will lead to increased access, enjoyment, and understanding of historic sites through their spaces and collections.

Needs and Challenges That the Project Will Address

Across the United States, 45% of museums are historic sites, historical societies or historic preservation organizations. The very features that make historic sites so evocative and immersive often present accessibility challenges for people with disabilities, who comprise more than a quarter of people living in the United States—over 85 million people. This project will increase the capacity of historic sites to develop rich, sensory-based interpretive experiences that are accessible to visitors with disabilities. Historic sites vary widely in terms of their physical characteristics, size, staffing capacity and budget. Recommended solutions will range from simple, lower-cost prototypes to higher-end approaches.

A focus group participant is testing a sonar interactive at the Intrepid Museum an exhibit prototyping phase. She is seated in a scooter facing a touch screen and wearing headphones.

Apply to join the 'Developing Sensory Tools for Historic Sites' project as a core working group member.

The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum and New York University’s Ability Project (Project Team) invites applications from self-advocates and representatives of disability communities and from the historic sites and museums community to contribute to the development of “Sensory Tools for Interpreting Historic Sites” as members of this new project’s Core Working Group. The Core Working Group will identify barriers to participation at historic sites based on physical accessibility as well as those that arise from environmental characteristics like lighting and noise, and that arise from cognitive and behavioral requirements. The Core Working Group will periodically convene to review, evaluate and provide recommendations on the proposed solutions. The first Core Group meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, December 10 and Wednesday, December 11, 2019, at the Intrepid Museum.

How to Apply:

Please complete and submit applications via the appropriate Google Form by 5 pm on September 27, 2019.


Below is an embedded link to the Google Form application for self-advocates and representatives of disability communities.

Below is an embedded link to the Google Form application for staff at historic sites and museums.

Honorarium & Site Incentive Payments

More information about the honorarium for advocates and the site incentive payments for the historic sites is in the respective applications.

Accessibility

The project organizers will work to ensure that all meetings and project components are fully accessible to all participants. Meeting spaces and bathrooms will be wheelchair accessible and organizers will provide American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation and CART (captioning) for meetings, as well as large print versions of all print materials. Our best effort will be made to ensure that we also address environmental characteristics like lighting and noise, and barriers that arise from cognitive and behavioral requirements. Organizers will follow up with accepted participants with more information.

Project Partners and Contributors

Principal Partner Organizations


  • Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum


  • New York University Ability Project


Project Advisers


  • Ashley Grady, Senior Program Manager, Smithsonian Institution


  • Beth Ziebarth, Director, Accessibility Program, Smithsonian Institution


  • Ashley Wilson, Graham Gund Architect, National Trust for Historic Preservation


  • Carrie Villar, Acting Vice President for Historic Sites, National Trust for Historic Preservation


Project Evaluator and Facilitator


  • Janet L. Rasweiler
NYU | Ability Project written in purple. On the left is an illustration of a torch in white on a purple square.
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space written in navy blue with an illustration of the aircraft carrier in white on a blue background. Red and blue stripes are on each side of the image. There are three stars above the aircraft carrier.