At a Glance
Project at a Glance: 
  • Status: Active 
  • Launch: May 2011
  • Partners:  Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies and the Smithsonian Institution Accessibility Program
  • Team: Paul T. Jaeger, Mega Subramaniam, Lesley A. Langa, Katie Shanahan
  • Mission: The findings from this research will: increase accessibility of museums to people with disabilities; illuminate the importance of the web and electronic resources in expanding a museumís audience; and contribute research into the role of family learning with special needs children in museums.

The Museum Experience of Children with Autism and Their Families: Improving Access through Web and Electronic Resources (funded by the Smithsonian Institution and the University of Maryland) 

Combining the expertise of iPAC with the Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies (SCEMS) and the Smithsonian Institution Accessibility Program (SIAP) the internal evaluation and accessibility offices of the Smithsonian this project will identify the ways in which the use of the web and other electronic resources by students with disabilities and their families can help to make museums more inclusive of and enhance the museum experience for persons with disabilities. This project is one of the first concrete efforts to explore the integration of the web and other electronic resources as a means to promote greater inclusion of persons with disabilities in museums. 

In examining the museum experiences of the children with disabilities and their families, the study will focus on the roles of the various Web and electronic resources and physical resources in the experience of the museum visit and the effect of the accessibility resources on the attitudes of the children and their families toward museum visits. In the case of the resources, each will be evaluated for its impact (positive, negative, or neutral) individually and in combination on the accessibility of museum experience. Resources will also be assessed in terms of contrasting the impacts of the electronic resources with the impacts of the physical resources. In the case of the attitudes, the focus will be on any changes in attitudes toward the accessibility of museums, the experience of the visit, and the interest in future museum visits.