Web-exhibits for Inclusivity: designing an accessible companion Web-exhibit in-house

Lightning Talk
Megan Reel, Museum of Texas Tech University, USA

In creating a companion web-exhibit, the Lubbock Lake Landmark, a unit of the Museum of Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, sought to promote inclusivity by designing a web-exhibit with accessibility in mind, while focusing showcasing technology, at a low financial cost. Several objectives influenced the design of this web-exhibit. The first was to increase access to exhibit content for individuals who might not otherwise be able to visit the physical museum space. The web-exhibit also would serve as a space to link sensory guides and to allow individuals and families to be able to evaluate the physical exhibit prior to attending. Finally, digital 3D models were to be embedded in the website as an additional showcase for the technology being utilized at the Lubbock Lake Landmark.
The challenges of designing the web-exhibit in-house by staff without a technical background and how these challenges were addressed are highlighted. Strategies for addressing these challenges may benefit other institutions, and especially those with limited resources. Particular challenges included learning and implementing Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) standards, creative solutions for embedded 3D models and other visual-only content, presenting both audio and optional transcripts, and ensuring the web-exhibit would function on mobile devices, as certain users with disabilities require that format. Addressing these concerns was accomplished through constant refinement, including utilizing free online tools to test accessibility, meeting with two screen reader users who were able to review the website, and individual staff research. By learning about best practices in web accessibility and understanding that it is an ongoing process, museums and nonprofits can work towards inclusivity in online content, even if they are not able to partner with outside vendors and professional web developers.

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