Lucas White

Contextual Inquiry (2/15/17):

After visiting the Cooper Hewitt considering those with disabilities and how they would be effected, I came up with the following observations for each condition.

Epilepsy: Other than the immersion room, I didn’t find many instances where someone would have epileptic complications.

Blindness/Low Vision: Someone with blindness or low vision would feel disconnected with the exhibits. There is little to no interactivity other than visual stimuli. I felt as though there were many times I wanted to interact and touch the design. For example, I wanted to type with the typewriters, I wanted to turn the knobs on the radios (or at least one) in the radio exhibit, there was a door upstairs on the wall that I wanted to turn the knob of and open it. Most noticeably, however, the “Scraps” exhibit was about making material and textiles out of recycled products. It featured blankets and other things that seemed very pleasing to touch (as that is the intention). The exhibit, however is PLASTERED with “Do Not Touch” signs, which frustrated me so. I understand the need of Museums to preserve their objects, but as the museum of design, I feel like it is incredibly important to recognize the importance of use and touch in design and not just the visual aesthetics. The point was made that many products are things that can be bought (the example used was a razor) and used and appreciated by the consumer. However, people take the time to appreciate design in the museum, not at home that’s why they’re attending the museum and they should be able to interact. Not to mention it is isolating a large portion of the population who uses design without looking at it.

Color Blindness: I felt as though none of the exhibits were independently enjoyable because of their color, so Color Blindness would not be a major disadvantage in the Cooper Hewitt’s current setup.

Mobility Issues: I felt the Cooper Hewitt did its best to make their museum accessible to those with mobility issues with its historical landmark restrictions. The elevator was able to allow people onto every floor, and they would be able to navigate about the exhibits without any obvious inconvenience.

Hearing Impairments and Deafness: None of the exhibits were based on sound (not even the radio one which I found a bit weird), so I don’t think Hearing complications would not restrict a person from enjoying the museum. However, in relation to sound, there was a little tv-radio playing a life performance and it did not have an X symbol to use the pen on, which disappointed me because I would have liked to revisit that performance.

Cognitive and Intellectual Disabilities: I unfortunately do not really understand what inhibits (if anything) people with cognitive or intellectual disabilities from experiencing and enjoying art, but I assume the museum has some staff with experience in aiding those people through the exhibits in ways they would enjoy (Perhaps with more interactivity).

Autism Spectrum Disorder: In terms of the organization of information, I found that the placement of the pen symbols were a little all over the place and hard to find. I often found the corresponding symbols with objects were non-constant, random, and sometimes even across the room. More obvious placements would help me, and I’m sure people with organization complications as well.


Competitive Research (2/22/17):

MoMA: “The Museum of Modern Art is committed to enabling all visitors to experience its unparalleled collection of modern art.”

According to the MoMA’s accessibility page, the museum offers wheelchairs and wheelchair access to bathrooms, elevators, etc. They also have a lot of resources for those who have hearing loss, including sign language tours and T-Coil integration of audio tours and films. For those afflicted with blindness or low vision they have available programs such as visual description tours as well as braille and large-print brochures. These are about it for the services which MoMA offers, and can offer without major projects or overhauls. They have no descriptions or programs featured on their sight for those with epilepsy, those with cognitive issues, those with autism, etc. The Cooper Hewitt has two distinct advantages over the MoMA in regards to accessibility. One, the Hewitt HAS taken upon accessibility as a major project. Two, the Hewitt is the museum of DESIGN. Design is meant to be viewed from every angle, touched, used, fiddled with, admired by more than just the sense of sight, which the Museum of Modern Art’s vast collection is nearly exclusive to. Tactility seems to be where every museum is lacking, I think this presents the Hewitt with an opportunity to fill a “pain” of many users. They have the opportunity to be the museum that can be just as well experienced by both the sighted and those with visual impairments.