HEARING THROUGH DEAF EYES: A STUDY OF DEAF CULTURE AND THE ACCESIBILITY NEEDS OF THE DEAF COMMUNITY IN ART

MUSEUMS

A Thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Art Education

By Neelam S. Jumma

Department of Art Education The School of the Art Institute of Chicago September 2009

Thesis Committee Advisor: Therese Quinn, Associate Professor, School of the Art Institute of Chicago Reader: Pamela Clohesey, Instructor, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

ii TABLE OF CONTENTS INTRODUCTION...............................................................................................................3 LITERATURE REVIEW..................................................................................................11 Introduction............................................................................................................11 The Deaf Among the deaf......................................................................................12 American Sign Language and the Deaf Community.............................................14 ASL ≠ English........................................................................................................15 ASL is Not a Universal Signed Language.............................................................18 People Who Are Deaf and Lip-reading.................................................................19 Struggles and Issues Within the Deaf Community................................................20 Government Policy Regarding the Deaf Population and Art Museums................26 A Museum’s Responsibility to the Public and the Access Rights of the Public....28 METHODOLOGY............................................................................................................31 PARAMETERS.................................................................................................................35 STORY..............................................................................................................................38 DISCUSSION....................................................................................................................50 Gap #1: Training....................................................................................................50 Gap #2: Marketing and Advertisements................................................................53 Gap #3: ADA Enforcement...................................................................................55 A Comparison of Accommodations in England and the U.S................................57 CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS..............................................................63 List of Recommendations for Art Museums..........................................................64 List of Recommendations for Members of the Deaf Community.........................69 Conclusion.............................................................................................................72 REFERENCES..................................................................................................................74 APPENDIXES...................................................................................................................77 Appendix A............................................................................................................77 Appendix B............................................................................................................78 Appendix C............................................................................................................79 Appendix D............................................................................................................80 Appendix E............................................................................................................81 Appendix F.............................................................................................................82 RESOURCE NOTES.........................................................................................................83

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Introduction Ever since I can remember, art has been a part of my life in some way, shape, or form. However, it has always taken somewhat of a backseat to the other interests in my life; it was more of a hobby—something I did in my free time. It was not until my freshman year in college, as an official pre-med student, that I realized I could no longer lie to myself. As I locked myself away and studied hard, I felt a huge void in my life; there were no visual art classes offered at the college I attended. Although the lack of art classes could not stop me from drawing and painting in my sketchbook, I realized that keeping art merely as a hobby wasn’t going to work for me. Therefore, I decided to apply to a state college with an art program and begin a new journey as an art student. For admissions into the fine arts program, I did not need to submit a portfolio or choose a major until after completing all the core fine arts requirements in the first two years of the program; this seemed perfect for me because I had no portfolio to offer as an ex-pre-med student. As I took my introductory drawing, color theory, and art history classes, I realized that I should probably research what I wanted to major in. So I looked into the majors offered at my college and came across something called “Art Education.” I had never heard of it, but it sounded intriguing. When I was a pre-med student, I was thinking of becoming a pediatrician since I enjoy working with children. Prior to college, I had done a lot of work in children’s camps as a teenager and was an art counselor for two years; my work with children throughout my teenage years is what motivated me to pursue pediatrics in the

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first place. As I read more and more about the art education program, I realized that it was exactly what I needed to be studying because it would allow me to combine my wish to work with children and keep art in my life... I could have my cake and eat it, too—I could teach art to children! Why had I not thought of this earlier? And that was the beginning of my art education career. I took many studio classes, regular education classes, and art education classes; did my semester of student teaching; took the state teacher certification test; and finally graduated with a B.F.A. in Art Education. Within a couple of months of graduating, toward the end of the public school year, I was hired as a long-term substitute to replace a retiring art teacher at an elementary school in the metro Atlanta suburbs. This substitute opportunity could have led to a permanent art-teaching job, if I had chosen to pursue one. What more could I have asked for? This was what I had wanted out of my education—a career working with art and children. Or was it? Again, I felt a void. I had learned what was necessary to become an art teacher at a primary or secondary school in the state of Georgia. As an art teacher, I could open up my students’ eyes to a world of art that I was never exposed to as a child. I could teach these children how to critically create and discuss works of art. But, I wondered, could I teach them how to critically analyze what the world threw at them through my art curriculum? Had I even learned how to critically analyze what the world had been throwing out at me? From the end of my undergraduate education career and moving on to my elementary teaching experience, I somehow felt that I had not learned enough, that there was knowledge out in the world that I had not been exposed to. I was not quite sure how to articulate and

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explain these thoughts and feelings, not only to others, but to myself. The best way to explain this sentiment is to say that my thought processes were still immature and I needed help being more critical. My only solution to this learning deficit was to apply to graduate school. Here I am at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the graduate Art Education program writing my thesis. Prior to this point, during my first semester as a student in this program, I finally began to understand the “I had not learned enough” void I felt while completing my undergraduate degree and during my first teaching experience. The following passages by Edward Said from Representations of the Intellectual express my feelings and ideas about the void I felt: The particular threat to the intellectual today… is not the academy, nor the suburbs, nor the appalling commercialism of journalism and publishing houses, but rather an attitude that I will call professionalism. By professionalism I mean thinking of your work as an intellectual as something you do for a living, between the hours of nine and five with one eye on the clock, and another cocked at what is considered to be proper, professional behavior—not rocking the boat, not straying outside the accepted paradigms or limits, making yourself marketable and above all presentable, hence uncontroversial and unpolitical and “objective.” (p. 73-74) In other words, I was a product of professionalism. Through my undergraduate education, I was taught to be and do one thing in my life. This is not to say that I do not appreciate my undergraduate education or that I disregard it as of no value. I would not be where I am had I not gone through such experiences. Now that you know how I got to the point of pursuing Art Education, I will explore the developments of my interest in the Deaf community and art museums. These two subjects are familiar to me now, but how did I get to the point of deciding to write my thesis about

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them? Even those who know me very well may say it seems like a random decision, but I feel it is due to my tying together a string of five events in my life that led to the completion of this thesis. This string first appeared before my adolescent days when I met a Deaf boy who was a little younger than me through my community of friends. I felt very awkward and inadequate because I could not communicate with him while a few of my other friends could. I felt like an outsider in this world of hand configurations. A little later in life, I found my older brother’s Boy Scout manual and saw the American Sign Language (ASL) alphabet illustrated within; this was the second string in the series of events. I tied these first two pieces of string together, end to end, and taught myself the ASL alphabet. I could now have very basic conversations and become friends with the boy I could not previously communicate with. I also managed to learn a few other word signs from him. These brief moments of communication had a profound impact on me as a child, but this impact must have been latent because I did not actively think about or pursue any further engagement with ASL until I began my graduate studies. It was not until my first semester as a graduate student that I realized something I had never before properly articulated to others or to myself—I wanted to learn more ASL and learn more about the Deaf culture. As I was researching classes prior to my first semester of graduate school, I decided to look through the liberal arts classes offered to see if something sparked my interest outside of my degree requirements. I came upon the languages section of the liberal arts classes and saw that the school offers American Sign Language 1 and American Sign Language 2; these

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two classes represent the third string in the series of events leading up to the genesis of my thesis. I tied this third piece of string to the others when I decided to sign up for ASL 1. I already had an interest in signing and Deaf culture and figured that, as an educator living in such a multicultural society as the United States, learning another language would only be an asset to my career. I realize that this line of thought seems purely motivated by professionalism, but at that point in time I had not yet begun my graduate school career and professionalism was still a motivating factor. Another reason I decided to take ASL is because I thoroughly enjoy learning about other cultures and, in my eyes, the best way to learn about another culture is to study the language associated with it. In my experience, one cannot learn a language without absorbing information about the culture in which that language is spoken. Now that my prior history and experience with ASL and the Deaf culture has been investigated, it will be much easier to explain the fourth piece of string—my interest in the art museum aspect of my thesis. This interest mainly stems from my own lack of knowledge about the realm of museum practices in the education of society and from the information I have recently gained through museum education courses. On this note of minimal knowledge, before I delve into my interest in art museums, I would like to quote Edward Said once again: In the end, I am moved by causes and ideas that I can actually choose to support because they conform to values and principles I believe in. I do not therefore consider myself bound by my professional training in literature, consequently ruling myself

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out from matters of public policy just because I am only certified to teach modern European and American literature. I speak and write about broader matters because as a rank amateur I am spurred on by commitments that go well beyond my narrow professional career. (p.88) Despite my professional training in art education, I would like to follow in the footsteps of Edward Said and, “as a rank amateur” qualified by my continuing studies and research in the themes discussed in this thesis proposal, I will discuss matters within art museums that “spur” my interest. Throughout my undergraduate training to become an art teacher and throughout my life in general, I was not able to experience the involvement of museums in art education. I can hardly recall visiting any museums, let alone art museums while growing up. I, as well as my parents, had not associated museums with the learning necessary to my future career as a children’s doctor. I was in my freshman year of college, and still a pre-med student, when I actually went to my first art museum, where I had a wonderful and memorable experience. Since then I have been to quite a few art museums, but have not been too critical and analytical about my experiences within these institutions. The fourth string was tied to the rest when I began making connections between the Deaf community and art museums. Ever since I began studying ASL and coming into contact with deaf individuals and the Deaf culture, I began to notice more and more that the hearing world knows little about their diverse population and treats them as though they have a deficit in their abilities. People who are Deaf do not view themselves as having a disability. After all, they live and function in the same space as hearing people and just use a different language, much like people from

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different countries and cultures do. Nevertheless, mainstream society falls short of seeing Deaf people as individuals who speak another language. Prior to my studies in American Sign Language and Deaf culture, even I knew very little about the Deaf community and how Deaf people live their lives in a world full of sounds and verbal communication. Because Deaf people have formed such a tight-knit community through the use of a common language—ASL—people who use spoken language to communicate may not share too many experiences with them. This lack of contact is evident in the way people speak about the Deaf community and in popular misconceptions about American Sign Language and Deaf culture, and this is why I feel the need to create more awareness about the needs of the Deaf community. Additionally, through my studies about the Deaf community, I have noticed that art museums in the United States seem to focus on accommodations and programs for people who are physically and visually impaired. This makes sense because physical access is a general necessity for all people and the collections of art museums are based mostly on seeing rather than hearing. But are art museums in this country aware of what the Deaf community needs from them and what possibilities exist in terms of accommodating this specific community? Is the Deaf community even aware of the existing accommodations that art museums provide for them? With four pieces of the string tied together, I will connect the fifth and final string— this thesis—by analyzing current exemplary practices of art museums in England and the United States, and by compiling research about the best accommodations to ensure more meaningful educational experiences for Deaf museumgoers in the United States. In addition,

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I will identify the gaps between art museums and accessibility practices in order to identify where museums are lacking in the area of accessibility and how these gaps can be bridged. Most importantly, I realize that when discussing a certain group of people and the issues they face, it may seem like the group in question is being isolated and objectified; I would like to express to the reader that this is not my intent. The goal of this paper is to create awareness about the needs of people who are Deaf within the setting of art museums. To accomplish this goal, I must educate the reader about Deaf culture, the issues that exist within the Deaf community, what government policies support the Deaf community, and what accommodations have been and are currently being provided for the Deaf community in art museums in England and the U.S. I will gather this information through literature, interviews, and an art museum visit made in conjunction with a focus group discussion with members of the Deaf community.

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Literature Review The hearing-impaired community makes up quite a large population within the United States. According to a 1990-1991 survey done by Gallaudet University (a prominent higher-learning institution for the deaf in Washington, D.C.), there are approximately 20 million people in the United States with hearing impairments. Of those 20 million, about 552,000 people “cannot hear and understand any speech,” which means that the remaining 19,450,000 people fall somewhere along a hearing-impairment continuum ranging from mild to profound (Holt, et al., 1994). Not only is the hearing-impaired population diverse in their ability to hear sounds, but in their race, culture, religion, language, sexuality, and every other way that the hearing population varies (Smith & Bienvenu, 2007). For the purposes of my thesis, I will concentrate on the culturally Deaf portion of the hearing-impaired community— the approximate 550,000 Americans who cannot hear at all. Within the larger deaf community, “persons who view themselves as Deaf… consider themselves members of a separate Deaf culture, rather than of the larger hearing culture. [Deaf] individuals view and define deafness as a cultural identity rather than as a disability” (Tucker, 1997, p. 31). In this literature review, I will continue to elaborate on aspects of Deaf culture (including American Sign Language) within the larger context of the deaf community. I will also discuss the issues that Deaf people face within hearing society. As a byproduct of this discussion, I will also dispel some common misconceptions about the Deaf community. Subsequently, I will discuss the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and how it applies to people with hearing

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impairments and to the art museum setting. Finally, I will discuss specific accommodations the Deaf community could benefit from in the art museum setting, and how various museums in England and the U.S. are accommodating this specific group of people.

The Deaf Among the deaf Within the larger deaf community, there are various levels of deafness. The reader may have noticed the capitalization, or lack thereof, when I have used the word deaf; this is not a matter of inconsistency. Within literature I have come across, “deaf” is widely used as “the audiological experience of not being able to hear sound,” whereas “Deaf” is used to “describe a cultural identity” (Smith & Bienvenu, 2007, p. 62). Humphries, Padden, and O’Rourke (1994) explain that these distinctions are made “because there are deaf people, who are not part of any of these [Deaf] communities, who do not know ASL.” They: …are distinguishing between those deaf individuals who use ASL (Deaf individuals), and those who are deaf, but do not participate in the language or community of Deaf people (deaf individuals). As you can see, just because one does not hear, it does not necessarily mean that one has learned ASL and is part of a Deaf community. (p. 6) These distinctions are widely used and necessary when referring to the deaf community at large or the culturally Deaf population within the larger deaf community. There are many ways to categorize deafness and the various levels of hearing that occur within the deaf community. Senghas and Monoghan (2002) suggest that a deaf person’s inability to hear sound allows some theorists to place him or her in the “medical model of deafness,” which “is based on deficit theory and holds that deafness is the

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pathological absence of hearing and that such a hearing-impaired individual is therefore disabled because of faulty hearing.” This theory is referred to as the medical model “because medical procedures (such as cochlear implants) are characteristic of responses made by (hearing) parents of deaf children and often involve extensive intervention by medical professionals” (p.78). The phrase “medical intervention” refers to surgeries to improve hearing, hearing aids, and/or cochlear implants. For my thesis, I am not referring to members of the Deaf community using a medical model. I prefer to look at Deafness from a cultural and lingual basis. Those in the deaf community who may have pursued such medical interventions (i.e., the hard of hearing, late deafened, and oral deaf) are generally not considered a part of the culturally Deaf community because they have hearing loss that ranges from mild to profound, they associate mostly with hearing people, and/or they do not use American Sign Language as their primary means of communicating with others (Sivertson, 2008). Please refer to Appendix A for a graphical chart displaying these levels of deafness. The chart in Appendix A shows the different characteristics of people with hearing impairments. It shows four groups (the hard of hearing, late deafened, oral deaf, and culturally Deaf) within the hearingimpaired world. By no means is this table inclusive of exceptions among the groups; these are general observations about each group and should not be used to form stereotypes. For instance, someone who is deaf may have some ability to hear and speak, yet someone who is hard of hearing may not hear or speak at all; yet, the distinction is made in the community and culture of association (Humphries, et al., 1994). Also, for clarification, the “Community

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of Association” column in Appendix A states whether the group in question mainly associates with hearing or deaf people according to their own social ties. Additionally, those who are culturally Deaf consider the late deafened, hard of hearing, and oral deaf as “hearing people who have lost some of their hearing” since these people originally had some prior experience in hearing sound and speech (Ladd, 2003, p. 33). Therefore, due to such cultural, lingual, and social variety within the deaf world, it is necessary for the purposes of researchers to distinguish between the specific Deaf community within the general deaf community. American Sign Language and the Deaf Community The Deaf population that I am concentrating on primarily uses American Sign Language (ASL) as their means of communication. Humphries, et al. (1994) acknowledge that ASL is the language used by 200,000 to 500,000 of the previously mentioned 550,000 members of the culturally Deaf community in this country. The use of ASL is not just a means of communication, it is a way of life for Deaf people. Because they have created a culture and community based on this signed language, it is part of their identity. Erting (1985) likens deafness to ethnicity when considering the formation and social structure of the Deaf culture. Also, Smith and Campbell (1997) believe that Deaf individuals are similar to other minorities in the sense that they have formed social groups and organizations within their culture. These social groups exist in areas of political organizations, religion, entertainment, and education. Thus, just as various ethnic groups in the U.S. have established

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communities and ways of life around a shared language, neighborhoods, churches, etc., the Deaf community has done the same, particularly around their shared use of American Sign Language. According to Monaghan and Senghas (2002), “When individuals or groups accept sign languages, other language-associated practices are also recognized… [and] deaf people are thus seen as part of larger social entities such as communities” (p. 78). Consequently, ASL as a language has served in building a cultural group within society and among the larger hearing-impaired community. Since ASL plays such a large role in the development and culture of the Deaf community, in order to better understand the needs of the Deaf, I will begin discussing aspects of American Sign Language. ASL ≠ English There is a misconception that exists about American Sign Language and its derivation from the English language. Although these two languages share some similarities, ASL is a visual and manual language that is overall quite different from the grammar and syntax of the spoken English language. Within ASL and other signed languages, facial expressions and body language are quite important and must also be observed while conversing manually because facial expressions serve grammatical purposes, hence the strong visual aspect of ASL. Unlike in the hearing community, conversations cannot take place without eye contact in the Deaf community. Scientific research shows that as a result of experiencing constant visual stimulation through the use of American Sign Language, adults who were born deaf have stronger peripheral vision skills than hearing adults (Bower, 2000). Also, people who

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are Deaf watch the entire upper body, face, and hands during a signed conversation, which also leads to enhanced peripheral vision skills. Moreover, signed language is so different from spoken English that even the notion of humor is altered, and jokes do not always translate properly. For example, the following is a very common Deaf joke: There is a Deaf man driving along in his car. He is hurrying to get home because his wife will get very angry if he is late. He then comes to a railroad crossing and the gates are down. He waits as the train passes. The train is long past and still the gates are down. The man waits and waits and is thinking of how his wife is going to yell if he’s late. The Deaf man then gets out of his car and proceeds to the control booth at the crossing, where there is a person who is in charge of all the controls. The Deaf man takes out his pencil and paper and tries to think of the English words to put on the paper requesting that the gates be raised. He thinks and thinks (in sign) and says to himself, ah ha, and writes the words, “Please b-u-t,” and hands the paper to the hearing gatekeeper. The gatekeeper does not understand and says, “Huh?” (Rutherford, 1983, p. 313) Get it? Unless you know the ASL signs for “open the railroad gates” and “but,” which are identical, then it is unlikely you understood the joke. For those of you who are unfamiliar with ASL and the Deaf culture, even knowing that these two signs are the same may not make the joke very entertaining for you because your cultural references are different from those of a Deaf person; knowing the language is not enough (Rutherford, 1983). Appendix B shows a wooden sculpture by Deaf artist Chuck Baird called Please But, which is a physical representation of the joke. Please But consists of a railroad crossing with a closed set of gates, the arms of which end in human hands balled into fists with index fingers extended. If the gates in this sculpture were to open, they would create the movement necessary to sign both “open the railroad gates” and “but.”

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Not only is humor affected by the differences between ASL and English, the types of buildings Deaf people may efficiently work in differ from buildings in which hearing people live and work in as well. Because members of Deaf culture have a visual language, Dr. Benjamin Bahan suggests building “Visu-Centric” spaces for this community. For instance, Dr. Bahan was consulted in the planning stages of a new learning center Gallaudet University opened in the fall of 2008. He suggested that the new learning center “should have excellent sight lines; fewer doors; more glass - mirrors and windows, and lighting” because “open space in buildings provides the opportunity to facilitate communications through sign language but also through eye gaze, gestures, and facial expressions” (Lispey & McCarty, 2007, p.3). Such wide-open building designs allow those who are deaf and hard of hearing to communicate openly with each other without the distractions of too many walls or doors, which for hearing people allows for privacy and concentration. Since ASL is so different from English, art museums must not assume that typed brochures and exhibition guides provide Deaf people with equal access to the information offered to those who speak, hear, read, and write in English. Because people who are Deaf can see, they should not simply be provided with reading materials, just as members of the general public are not merely provided written resources under many art museums’ public programming. Derycke (1994) says, “Having a catalogue or display card as the sole introduction to a painting or sculpture is woefully inadequate for a deaf person… who must struggle to understand a language that… is not their natural form of expression” (p. 48). Charrow and Wilbur (1975) view Deaf individuals as linguistic minorities who are just like

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members of ethnic groups who learned English as a second language and do not learn English as well as the native speakers. With that said, American Sign Language is quite different from English and should be more widely recognized by art museums in the United States.

ASL is Not a Universal Signed Language Another misconception that exists is that American Sign Language is a universal signed language. American Sign Language is only spoken in the United States and Canada. In my own pursuit of learning ASL, I have learned that different countries have different signed languages. Thus far, through my research, I have come across British (BSL), French (LSF), Nicaraguan (ISN), and Japanese (JSL) signed languages. However, there are additional signed languages to accompany most of the spoken languages used around the world. Not only are there different signed languages in different countries, there are also many variations within signed languages such as American Sign Language. Some of these variations include Pidgen Signed English, Signed English, etc. (Brueggemann, 1995). The variation known as Signed English is used in school inclusion programs to help Deaf children learn to understand and read English better. Furthermore, Brueggemann (1995) mentions that ASL varies in ways that English varies by region. For example, Deaf communities within the same state have created signs for cities and street names that may not exist in other states around the U.S.

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Although ASL is different from signed languages in other countries, it does have some background in LSF. This is because Thomas Gallaudet, founder of the first deaf school in the United States in 1817, brought a French deaf teacher named Laurent Clerc to help with the education of the deaf in the U.S. (Fleischer & Zames, 2001). Nevertheless, over time, both ASL and LSF have evolved into separate languages that share only a few similar signs (Humphries, et al., 1994).

People Who Are Deaf and Lip-reading Lip-reading is not something that all Deaf people have mastered at the level most hearing individuals might think. Depending on the type of training Deaf people receive, they might read lips better than others or not very well at all. Furthermore, under the tradition of Oralism, which prohibits the use of signed languages and flourished in Deaf institutions from about the 1880s to the early 1970s (and is still practiced today), members of the deaf community were taught to communicate primarily by speech and lip-reading (Ladd, 2003). Members of the Deaf community who have been trained in Oralism might be quite good at reading lips, but that does not necessarily mean they understand every word that is spoken to them. In order to provide an example of the varieties of deafness and lip-reading, I would like to share my experience with a deaf professor I encountered at a lecture about art for social justice in November 2007. I was not aware that the professor was deaf as he introduced the guest speaker because he delivered his introduction with what seemed like a simple speech impediment, but while the guest speaker was lecturing I noticed an interpreter on stage

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signing for him. It was at this point that I realized he was deaf. The professor lost his hearing due to a childhood accident at the age of 10, which means that he learned ASL as a second language after being exposed to the sounds of spoken English. More importantly, I want to stress the point that just because this deaf professor could speak and be understood, it does not mean that he did not know ASL or that his eyesight and lip-reading skills were excellent enough to read someone’s lips in a large lecture setting. In the context of art museums, having Deaf people join tours and gallery talks in English with the expectation that they might follow along through lip-reading would not be an effective way to disseminate information and to educate Deaf museum visitors. Statistically, those Deaf people who read lips the best can only understand about 30 percent to 40 percent of what is said to them (Suggs, 2003). Thus, lip-reading is not the most effective way to communicate with people who are Deaf. If Deaf art museum visitors only understand 30 to 40 percent of the information given in a lecture or a tour, this form of education needs to be re-evaluated with consideration to their needs.

Struggles and Issues Within the Deaf Community We cannot truly know the Deaf community without learning about the struggles and issues they have faced throughout history as well as those issues they face today. In the past, those who were deaf were not highly respected as human beings and were ignored since they were not able to communicate with hearing people. When nobility were affected by deafness and it threatened their rights to inheritance, discovering ways to teach the deaf became more

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important (Fleischer & Zames, 2001). Eventually, people began to realize that deaf people are just as capable as the hearing but that they require different methods of communication and education. In retrospect, the Deaf community has come a long way in terms of establishing rights for themselves. For centuries, people with disabilities have dealt with inequality in society. Inspired by groups in the United States who have also been treated unequally such as African Americans and women, people with disabilities began to speak out against unequal treatment; the Civil Rights and Women’s Liberation Movements in the 1960s lead to the Disability Rights Movement. Through protests, civil disobedience, boycotts, and organizations, people with disabilities have caught the eyes of policymakers in the U.S. government. Since the beginning of the Disability Rights Movement, there have been a string of laws enacted to help make equality a reality. I would like to give a brief overview of the Disability Rights Movement and governmental policies so that the reader can understand the struggle of people with disabilities who have been and continue to fight for equality. One of the first laws to directly address access issues for people with disabilities was passed in 1968 and was known as the Architectural Barriers Act. This act required facilities funded by the Federal Government to be physically accessible to individuals with disabilities. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, more specifically Section 504, prohibits discrimination by the Federal Government and whatever they fund in the areas of facilities, programs, and employment. This act was a pivotal civil rights law that led to the creation and development of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which is more specific about how disability is

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defined; it branches outside of the Federal Government to include public and private institutions and transportation and telecommunication services. More recently, in 2008, amendments were made to the ADA to increase protection for people with disabilities by creating a broader definition of the word “disability” and the phrase “major life activities” within the document. Along with these national laws, some states have created their own accessibility codes as well. The existence of these laws and the 2008 amendments signal a need to improve accessibility in order for people with disabilities to obtain equality in societal services. Despite all the effects of the Disability Rights Movement, there was a particular injustice in the Deaf community that was brought to light in the late 1980s. It was not until 1988 that Gallaudet University selected its first Deaf president since the school’s 1864 establishment; this was achieved not through elections, but through protests and demonstrations (Fleischer & Zames, 2001). Initially, the board of directors selected a hearing president over two equally qualified deaf candidates. This election stirred uprisings known as the Deaf President Now (DPN) movement in the student community of Gallaudet University. Since DPN, Gallaudet University’s board of directors must be at least 50 percent Deaf (Brueggemann, 1995). Although DPN created more avenues toward equality for Deaf people, there are still issues that the community faces today. One of these issues is whether or not institutions should be legally obligated to provide accommodations for the culturally Deaf. As mentioned earlier, members of the culturally Deaf community do not feel that their deafness is a

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disability but a form of identity and way of life. If this is the case, some people feel that Deaf people should not advocate accommodations through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). For example, Tucker (1997), who is deaf, mentions, “Deaf people cannot claim to be disabled for purposes of demanding accommodations under laws such as the ADA, yet claim that deafness is not a disability” (p. 36). Tucker as well as others, both deaf and hearing, feel that Deaf culturists are living contradictions and that the Deaf community should not ask for accommodations under the ADA. Nonetheless, there are others who oppose this view, including Humphries et al. (1994): Deaf people may, at times, allow themselves to be categorized as “disabled” out of social, economic, or political necessity. However, this adoption of a seemingly contradictory view of themselves does not diminish their sense of themselves as a culturally and linguistically sophisticated people (p. 10). This view validates the Deaf community as a cultural entity, and supports their choices in requesting governmental support for equal access opportunities. Smith and Bienvenu (2007) compare Feminist Theory to the issues of the Deaf community and suggest developing a Deaf Theory based on the Feminist Theories that have already been developed. One of their points is based on the dichotomy between Deaf and hearing people, which states, “Deaf individuals (like women) can strive to have equal political/social power, while simultaneously being different than hearing (male) individuals” (p. 61). The authors embrace this difference and believe there is nothing wrong with needing accommodations from institutions in order to create equality among people who are Deaf and hearing. I support the

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culturally Deaf community in their right to have accommodations, and in this thesis I will present methods art museums may use to provide meaningful education to Deaf visitors. Another issue the Deaf community faces today is the curing of deafness through the use of cochlear implants in children. A cochlear implant is a technological device that alleviates nerve deafness and is placed in the inner ear through surgery, thus allowing sound to travel straight to the brain rather than via the ear (Tucker, 1997). Deaf culturists feel that parents should not decide the fate of their young deaf children by fitting them with cochlear implants before they are at an age to make the decision on their own. They feel it is a violation of a child’s human rights. On the other hand, those who support the decisions of parents to provide cochlear implants to their young children cite scientific research that shows the earlier a child gets a cochlear implant, the more effective it is against deafness (Tucker, 1998). Tucker (1998) poses the following argument about allowing deaf children to decide whether or not to receive a cochlear implant when they are older: A person who is deaf does not learn to speak at the age of twelve or older, the age at which the child is arguably old enough to decide for herself how she wants to live her life. But a child who is deaf who learns to speak and is part of the hearing world during childhood can learn to sign later in life and join the Deaf world (p. 8). The arguments of these two opposing parties are being discussed to this day, which shows how important an issue cochlear implants continues to be in our society. There are two deaf organizations that continually battle over the preservation of Deaf culture versus the promotion of cochlear implants and other such technologies, and their positions are made quite obvious in their missions. The mission of the National Association

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of the Deaf (NAD) is “to promote, protect, and preserve the rights and quality of life of deaf and hard of hearing people in the United States of America” (2009). The opposing organization, the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell), states that its mission is “Advocating Independence through Listening and Talking” (2008). These two organizations butted heads recently over PepsiCo’s Super Bowl pre-game commercial advocating the use of American Sign Language, which aired on February 3, 2008.1 When the AG Bell organization found out that this commercial was going to be aired on a day with so many viewers, they wrote a letter to the senior vice president of PepsiCo Communications expressing how it would promote a single stereotype of the diverse deaf community and that the money used to pay for the ad could be used instead to provide hearing aids and other services for the deaf. This letter is placed in Appendix C for reference. The NAD responded to AG Bell in a letter expressing the organization’s disappointment over the lack of support for the rights of members of the Deaf culture. The NAD’s response is also included in Appendix D. From the conflict surrounding this Super Bowl advertisement, one can see that the issues of preserving Deaf culture and curing deafness are ongoing and have yet to be resolved. Tucker (1997) mentions that by 2017 deafness may be completely reversible due to cochlear implants and other assistive hearing technology—hence, doing away with Deaf culture. Based on this premise, an argument can be made to free institutions from legal obligation to provide accommodations for the Deaf community. However, current governmental policies in the United States have not anticipated or allowed room for such

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technological advances, and the issue of the preservation of Deaf culture has not been taken into account. Thus, institutions are still obligated by law to provide accommodations for the hearing-impaired population.

Government Policy Regarding the Deaf Population and Art Museums “Deaf people earn a living, are consumers, and participate as citizens within a society that defines them as abnormal and is structured in ways that make it difficult for them to share equally with hearing people the benefits of that society.” (Erting, 1985, p. 227) For people who are Deaf, there are certain barriers that prevent them from equally accessing services that are part of our everyday lives. Tucker (1997) discusses three barriers that have developed over time that members of the deaf community face in our society; these barriers exist through our communicative technologies such as telephones and television, and through general barriers in communication in public programming. Currently, barriers that affect the Deaf population and other people with disabilities are addressed in the Americans with Disabilities Act. Because of these obstacles, people who are deaf and hard of hearing were huge proponents of the ADA when it was being drafted and continue to support it today. Since this is the main law that deals with creating equality for people with disabilities, I will discuss the ADA in greater detail. President George H. W. Bush signed the ADA into law on July 26, 1990. The original aim of this act was to put an end to discrimination against people with disabilities in all aspects of life in this country, including employment, telecommunications, transportation,

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and public services. The ADA handbook establishes that “public accommodations are private entities that affect commerce” and that “the ADA public accommodations requirements extend, therefore, to a wide range of entities, such as restaurants, hotels, theaters, doctors’ offices, pharmacies, retail stores, museums [italics added], libraries, parks, private schools, and day care centers” (Harrison & Gilbert, 1992, p. 53). The law clearly states that museums must provide accommodations for disabled members of society, which is one of the reasons why I want to study the accessibility needs of the Deaf community in art museums. But how is disability defined by these government policies and to what extent are museums responsible for providing such accommodations? The ADA defines disabled individuals as having “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individuals, a record of such an impairment or being regarded as having such impairments” (Harrison & Gilbert, 1992, p. 75). According to this definition, someone with a hearing impairment may be considered to have a physical disability that considerably affects his or her life. As well as defining hearing-impaired individuals as disabled, the ADA also establishes the extent of accommodations that institutions are required to provide for them. For those who are hearing impaired, the ADA requires “services and devices such as qualified interpreters, assistive listening devices, notetakers, and written materials” (Harrison & Gilbert, 1992, p. 54). On the other hand, the ADA does set a limit on the level of accommodations that institutions such as art museums must provide—the law “does not require the provision of any auxiliary aid that would result in an undue burden or in a fundamental alteration in the nature of the goods or

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services provided,” but institutions are “not relieved from the duty to furnish an alternative auxiliary aid, if available, that would not result in a fundamental alteration or undue burden” (Harrison & Gilbert, 1992, p. 55). According to this law, institutions such as art museums are required to provide accommodations for those who are hearing impaired but in a manner that does not excessively inconvenience the institution or force the creation of a completely separate program for hearing-impaired individuals. However, each institution’s capabilities and resources vary, and therefore the types of accommodations these institutions provide will differ. Despite such varying capabilities and resources, I am researching and proposing methods that will create meaningful experiences for members of the culturally Deaf community within the art museum context. I will pursue the discovery of appropriate methods that can enhance a Deaf person’s experience in an art museum in hopes that museum professionals can utilize this research to fit the needs of their audience and institution.

A Museum’s Responsibility to the Public and the Access Rights of the Public Outside of the legal reasons, art museums have a responsibility to provide allinclusive, equal access to the public, especially if they receive any public funding. Most museums in England receive public funding and are considered public institutions. Hence, English museums have a greater responsibility toward the public’s various learning needs. However, in the United States, many museums receive a mix of public and private funding. Should this mean that the needs of the public get left out of museum programming because

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they do not contribute 100 percent of the funding? This is an irresponsible way to address the needs of museum visitors. Paying admission fees, putting money in the donation box, and/or government funding in an art museum should be repaid to the public through services and programming. Despite the fact that an art museum can be privately funded does not mean that the public will visit less or that the museum will only concentrate on protecting and storing its collection. Privately funded institutions still provide public programming and must remember that the public is comprised of individuals with varying capabilities. In his essay The Quality of Visitors’ Experiences in Art Museums, Philip Wright (1989) says, “There is no such thing as the ‘typical visitor’, and there is no single level which can be expected and then addressed. The museum has to cater for increasingly fragmented publics who want to learn and do different things at different speeds” (p. 119). According to Wright, art museums need to cater to various audiences and this is and has been happening increasingly in art museums around the world. For instance, art museums provide specifically catered programming and educational opportunities for various audiences, including families, school groups, teachers, young professionals, adults, seniors, the community, etc. These various audiences have received plenty of attention in the museum education arena, but museums need to start putting forth more of their energy and resources toward improving educational programming for people with varying learning abilities, including Deaf individuals. Also, many of these educational programs involve learning through interaction versus learning through individual reflection and discovery. At any point in time a Deaf person can walk into an art museum and experience the works on display independently, just like any

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other visitor. Yet, I am in search of methods that allow Deaf people to interact with others to provide a sense of shared learning, which currently is not being practiced widely enough in the United States. The prominent education philosopher John Dewey (1916) says that as social beings, we learn in social environments (such as schools and museums) and that social learning is an important aspect in the entire learning process. However, one can be excluded from experiences in group learning if he or she has any sort of impairment or disability, which is the current situation faced by the Deaf community in most art museums. Because art museums provide specialized programming for various audiences, it is a Deaf person’s right to have the same access to programs as anyone else. As a result, art museums and other educational institutions must continually strive to include members of the Deaf community in their social learning initiatives. From the literature referenced thus far and from my action research, I hope to discover better and more detailed methods for providing programming for the Deaf community. I will also continue to research about the laws that affect the accommodations art museums provide for the Deaf community. In addition, I will continue to look into the accommodations provided for the Deaf community by art museums in England and the United States. With my thesis and fieldwork, I hope to compile a set of recommendations for accommodations that art museums—and various other types of museums—can provide for their Deaf audiences in order to create more meaningful experiences for them in these settings. I will also include a set of recommendations for members of the Deaf community in order to inform them about how they can play a part in increasing museum accessibility.

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Methodology

My research process began as an ethnographic study of the culturally Deaf community. By ethnographic study, I mean research into a cultural group (the Deaf community) to provide information about how this group of people lives in hopes of understanding them better (O’Leary, 2004). As I continued to develop my topic and methodology in detail, this project formed into a case study, which O’Leary defines as a “method of studying elements of the social through comprehensive description and analysis of a single situation or case, for example, a detailed study of an individual, group, episode, event, or any other unit of social life organization” (p. 115). This particular case study involves the Deaf community and the comparison of art museum accommodations for this community in the United States and England. The methodologies involved in this case study include an ethnographic study of the Deaf community and action research into the accommodations of a particular museum. With the help of my ASL professor, I gathered a group of five Deaf adults so that I could conduct this action research with them in the form of a focus group discussion. O’Leary (2004) defines the goal of action research as “work[ing] with stakeholders to generate knowledge in order to action change” (p. 98). Through the use of a focus group discussion, I was able to find out how members of the local Chicago Deaf community feel about a sign language-interpreted tour provided by the Art Institute of Chicago. Another component of my action research is based on creating a blog that will allow the general public, museum professionals, and the Deaf community to access my

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research; I will e-mail the blog address to various museum education departments and Deaf organizations. In order to learn more about Deaf culture and the issues faced by the Deaf population, I used books, journal articles, and Web sites to gather information. The journal articles helped me the most in my research as they provided more recent information on this relatively new topic of accommodations for Deaf people in museums, as well as on current debates in the Deaf community. These journals also gave me insight into the nuances of American Sign Language and the culturally Deaf population. I used Web sites to gather information on and from Deaf groups and associations, and for information on museum accessibility, current issues, and general information on deafness. Additionally, I have gathered information from my ASL classes as a student of the culture and language of the Deaf community, and from my experiences with people from the Deaf community. Some of my research about museums and their accessibility practices comes from the Web sites of museums in the U.S. and England. According to a marketing company that gears its work toward people with disabilities, four out of ten people with disabilities spend an average of 20 hours per week online conducting business and personal activities (Solutions Marketing Group, 2008). Although museum Web sites may not provide comprehensive information about accommodations, visitors often use the sites to find out information about institutions prior to a visit. Through my research, I have found that museums that provide physical and programmatic access for people with disabilities usually have a section on their Web site with information about their accessibility practices and how

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to contact the museum if accommodations are required. Consequently, I have found that searching through and evaluating museum Web sites is an important part of figuring out what accessibility options museums openly provide for people with differing abilities. Another method I used to gather information about the best accessibility practices at museums today is through literature about this specific topic. Organizations for the arts, researchers of museum studies, as well as accessibility organizations have published literature geared toward museums about recommended accessibility practices. In my research, I have sifted through this literature and chosen the best recommendations that art museums may use to increase and enhance their accessibility programs for the Deaf community. Rather than simply relying on the literature I found about proper accommodations for people with disabilities, I decided to create and implement an action research project to increase the depth of my research and create a blog to allow more people access to this information. Conducting a focus group discussion allowed me to stay grounded and directly learn the opinions of the people for whom museum accommodations are required. I decided to take my participants on a regularly scheduled gallery tour with a sign language interpreter at the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC). I chose this institution specifically because it advertised on its Web site interpreter services for gallery talks and tours with a two-week advance reservation. I also chose this museum because during the time of my fieldwork, I was an intern in the Museum Education Department and was able to get support for my field of research. Furthermore, I decided to base my focus group discussions on an AIC visit because

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other art institutions in Chicago did not advertise the use of interpreters on their Web sites; this lack of interpreter services would prevent me from evaluating the effectiveness of their accessibility practices. A focus group discussion based on a visit to the AIC empowered my participants to offer their direct input about the museum’s practices in accessibility for people who are Deaf. The participants in my focus group consisted of four women and one man above the age of 30. I decided to work with adults so that I could get detailed feedback about the museum’s accessibility practices. I scheduled the tour and the interpreter through the museum as if I were an average person looking for accommodations. Thus, I went to the museum’s Web site, found the accessibility section, and used the e-mail address provided to request an interpreter for a gallery talk that was on the museum’s schedule of events. I planned the tour for a free evening, when the museum is accessible to people of all socioeconomic backgrounds who might not otherwise afford a museum visit. The tour itself was 30 minutes long and was followed by a focus group discussion in which the goals were to evaluate the interpreter, the content of the tour, the format of the tour, and to discuss strategies that the museum can employ that would make visits for Deaf people more enjoyable.

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Parameters A major delimitation of my research is the lack of discussion about museum funding. Specifically, I decided not to address the amount of funding art museums set aside for accommodating people with disabilities or whether or not they have set aside such funding at all. This decision is based on the fact that museums may always use a lack of funding as a reason for not providing accommodations for people with different abilities, the hearingimpaired population in particular. In an article published in Museum News, the authors argue that “no matter how limited the staff or funding, you can usually start with some action if you utilize your resources well” (Richner, Prezant, & Rosen, 2006). Although funding is an issue, I agree with the Museum News article and feel that financial concerns blocking accessibility initiatives can be bypassed using grants, tax benefits through the ADA, and budget adjustments; accessibility programs must be made a priority by each individual institution as an investment in visitor services, otherwise lack of funding will be used as an excuse to do the bare minimum or nothing to resolve access issues. One of the primary limitations of my study is the fact that I am a hearing person studying the culturally Deaf population as an outsider. American Sign Language is not my first language and I have not been exposed or immersed in the Deaf culture for very long at all. My understanding of the Deaf culture may not be thorough since I am not part of this culture. Also, my studies will not include those members of the deaf population who may have some hearing capabilities and may use hearing aids or other assistive hearing

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technology; my focus is exclusively on the culturally Deaf who use American Sign Language as their primary means of communication. Moreover, when I conducted the focus group portion of my action research, I did not have a large pool of Deaf people to work with. Therefore, my studies will involve a very small sample of people from Chicago’s Deaf community. However, despite these limitations, I believe my research will be quite relevant to the entire culturally Deaf population, and perhaps to other hearing-impaired populations as well. There is bias in my personal views about the rights of Deaf people to maintain their community and culture despite medical and technological advancements toward curing deafness. Deaf people have developed a rich culture based around their language, and I feel they should be able to maintain it if they choose to do so. I also believe that institutions should try their best to accommodate the Deaf population in accordance with ADA regulations. Even though a majority of Deaf individuals would not change their inability to hear with the advent of new medical advancements, public and private institutions should still try to provide accommodations for the Deaf community. Overall, my beliefs advocate the preservation of the culture of the Deaf community, but I am using these beliefs to help make learning institutions such as art museums more accessible to people who are Deaf. A final set of biases that have influenced my study comes from the participants in my focus group. Knowing that I am developing a publication to help the Deaf community and to raise awareness about accessibility issues may have influenced how participants answered my questions. It is possible that they provided answers that would support my ideas about

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accommodations for the Deaf community in art museums rather than expressing their true feelings.

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Story In this section of my thesis, I would like to narrate the process of preparing for, conducting, and analyzing the results of my focus group. In order to help with data gathering, the entire focus group discussion was videotaped and I took field notes during the tour itself. Another aspect of this story is the research I gathered on the gaps I have noticed between art museums and accessibility services; these gaps will be mentioned in this section and elaborated upon in the Discussion section that follows. It is important to identify these gaps so that solutions can be devised to bridge them. While planning and preparing for my focus group, I was working as an intern in the Museum Education Department of the Art Institute of Chicago. The internship, an eightweek program, including two weeks of training, provided me an invaluable experience. Not only did it allow me to give tours to people of all ages, it allowed me to learn how the various departments of the museum function. This internship helped me realize what it takes to create effective educational programs and tours for all school-aged children, adults, families, and senior citizens. With the knowledge from my internship, I was better able to understand the ways in which to evaluate the tour that my focus group participants would be taking. Outside of these internship experiences, I was continuing my studies in American Sign Language. Having studied American Sign Language for a year does not make me an expert in ASL. I can communicate my thoughts through sign language, but my ability to read what others sign to me—in other words, my reception skills—are at a lower level of

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comprehension. I do not have a lot of exposure to other ASL users outside of my classes and the occasional Deaf social event. Therefore, the idea of conducting a focus group in a language that I am not fluent in made me nervous and caused me some anxiety. I thought about hiring an interpreter, but I decided to do it on my own because I really wanted to immerse myself in the language and I do not get much exposure to the language outside of the classroom. There were quite a few steps I took in order to prepare myself for the focus group. First of all, I made sure to re-study my ASL textbook from beginning to end, focusing on building up my vocabulary and properly relaying grammar through non-manual signs or facial expressions. In addition to using ASL texts, I watched videos in sign language to practice my reception skills and improve my comprehension of what individuals may sign to me. During this process I was also developing questions and topics for the focus group discussion. Once I had finalized the questions, I converted them into American Sign Language and practiced signing them until they came naturally to me. I also thought about possible answers from my participants so that I could recognize the signs and practice my responses. These preparation measures helped me feel more confident about my ability to communicate with fluent ASL users. Another part of the planning process was notifying the Art Institute of Chicago about a group of people who wanted to reserve the services of an interpreter so that they could join one of the museum’s regularly scheduled tours. I decided to request an interpreter the way any visitor would in order to see how the request would be processed; I did not want the fact

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that I worked there to influence the museum staff’s handling of the request. I started by browsing through the museum’s Web site for the section about accessibility needs. Once I found the right page, I discovered three ways to contact the museum to request an interpreter: via standard telephone, TDD/TTY (telecommunications device for the deaf/teletypewriter), and e-mail. The page specified that a request for an interpreter must be made at least two weeks prior to the planned tour. I decided to contact the museum via e-mail exactly two weeks prior to the date of the tour. I received a prompt reply from the museum education assistant who said that he received my request and would work on scheduling an interpreter. We e-mailed periodically over the two weeks prior to the tour to confirm my contact information and details such as how many people would be attending and who would require an interpreter. The education assistant also informed me that the museum would work on coordinating with the interpreter and the docent about the information and artworks that would be discussed so that the interpreter would be prepared. After preparing myself, practicing my ASL skills, booking an interpreter, and reserving and setting up a room for the focus group, the only thing left was actually going through with the tour and the focus group discussion. On the day of the tour, I set out to meet the group in front of the museum 15 minutes prior to the tour to allow for introductions and brief conversation. However, because the five adult participants did not arrive until a few minutes before the tour, we only had time to learn each other’s names. Since admission was free on this night, we walked directly into the museum and went straight to the meeting area

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for tour participants. Besides our small group, there were about twenty additional people waiting in the area for the tour. Since our group was signing to each other, the interpreter realized we were her audience and introduced herself before the docent began the tour. This tour was known as a Highlights Tour and was 30 minutes long. The docent decided to talk to the group about three works of art; two paintings and one Chinese bronze funerary sculpture. Once we arrived at the first work of art, the docent stood on one side of the painting, while the interpreter stood on the opposite side. Everything was going well—the docent was asking questions and giving information about the painting, and the interpreter was signing the translation. Anytime a visitor would ask a question or answer one of the docent’s questions, the interpreter would relay this information in sign language as well. Also, when members of my focus group answered the docent’s questions or had questions to ask the docent, the interpreter would use her voice to translate for the docent and hearing visitors on the tour. However, a few minutes into the tour a hearing member of the audience asked the interpreter to move because he could not see the painting properly. The interpreter stood her ground and said that she had to remain where she was so that she could be seen and heard by everyone. After this interaction, it occurred to me that this audience member could have easily moved a couple of feet to the side to see the painting rather than interrupting the interpreter. Although minimal, this brief interaction between the man and the interpreter can be considered a barrier. If one looks at the situation from a broader point of view, the man who asked the interpreter to move partially represents our society’s attitude toward people with

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disabilities and the provision of accommodations for them; it is a case of a lack of awareness and a what-does-this-have-to-do-with-me attitude. The term that includes these attitudes is called ableism, which Pelka (1997) describes as “that set of often contradictory stereotypes about people with disabilities that acts as a barrier to keep them from achieving their full potential as equal citizens in society” (p. 3). Retired ASL interpreter Amanda Torrey spoke in an interview of her experiences in the 1970s as an interpreter for a Deaf student in the graduate Architecture program at a Chicago-based university. She mentioned that the professors she worked with were quite ignorant about how to communicate with a Deaf person and had no knowledge about the culture of Deaf people (Personal communication, March 25, 2009). Torrey also spoke of her interaction, during the same time period, with a staff member of a Chicago museum who felt that it was not an institution’s responsibility to provide interpreters; she said that this staff member absolutely could not understand the importance of providing accommodations for people with disabilities until she explained it to him from another point of view. Torrey’s interactions with people during her time as an interpreter demonstrate that there is not only a lack of awareness about the Deaf community and Deaf culture, but also an improper ableist attitude toward providing accommodations for people who are Deaf. Despite the fact that Torrey’s experiences date from the 1970s, she still feels that the general public lacks awareness about Deaf people and Deaf culture even though institutions such as museums have become better about providing accommodations. Author Fred Pelka (1997) also acknowledges the presence of ableist attitudes in current society despite all the positive

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changes that have occurred in the wake of the Disability Rights Movement. The experience with the man on my focus group’s tour, my own ignorance about Deaf culture prior to my studies in American Sign Language, and the same ignorance of people I have spoken with in my own life all demonstrate society’s continued lack of awareness about the Deaf community. These ableist attitudes pervade our society and institutions thereby preventing equal access for all. But what is the root of such attitudes? As a society, most of us do not see each other as people of different abilities who can coexist equally. Instead, we tend to single out people who are different, which allows the singled-out to be placed in established cultural groups or to form cultural groups of their own, leaving them marginalized on the fringes of the established “normal” culture. In the article Culture as Disability, McDermott and Varenne (1995) express that such societal outlooks on disabilities are created by culture. In our world, people who are Deaf have been marginalized, pushed aside for centuries, and forced to create their own culture through a shared language. Usually, we see culture through an optimistic lens because it is through culture that groups of people are unified according to the way they live, learn, think, feel, and behave; however, it is also through culture that people learn to identify and label those who are not able to live, learn, think, feel, and behave like the rest of the members of a shared culture (McDermott & Varenne, 1995). Through such labeling, separation, and cultural generalizations, society has created disabilities. It is idealistic to think that such labeling and divisions will be eliminated in the future. Instead of using this aspect of human nature to

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divide ourselves, we should use it as a way to shed light on how we can accommodate each other’s varying abilities. Going back to my group’s tour, it seemed as though the man who asked the interpreter to move did not know or realize that the interpreter was in that position for a purpose because he was not utilizing her services himself. By diverting the interpreter’s focus, he caused her to stop what she was doing, creating a barrier for the Deaf members of the tour. Despite the subtleness of the situation, a barrier is still a barrier, whether intentional or not. In this case, the barrier is culture and society. As preservers, researchers, makers, and disseminators of culture, art museums can set an example for society at large by treating people who are Deaf—and different in other ways—as equal members of society rather than as a group of people with their own culture and methods of living. As the tour progressed and the group moved to the remaining works of art, everything seemed to go quite smoothly. At the second painting, both the docent and the interpreter stood side by side to the right of the painting explaining the details of the work. The final work of art was a three-dimensional piece in a glass case along the wall. The docent and the interpreter stood on opposite sides of the sculpture while discussing this piece. Finally, the tour was finished and the docent and interpreter departed. When the tour was complete, I took my group across the street to the room in which we would be having our discussion. Since we did not have time before the tour, I began by introducing myself in a little more detail and talking about my thesis project. I wanted this to be an informal talk so that the participants would feel comfortable with me and each other, so

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I tried to keep the environment laid-back and provided post-tour snacks for the group. Once everyone was done snacking and chatting, we began the discussion. The subjects of the focus group discussion were organized into three main sets of questions—introductory questions, questions dealing with this particular museum visit and tour, and questions directly addressing some of the topics in this thesis. These questions are included in Appendix F. The introductory questions were aimed at finding out about the participants’ previous experiences with museums and their frequency of attendance. The questions regarding this visit were geared toward evaluating the accommodations for this tour. They also addressed the tour’s content, the skills of the docent and interpreter, and the logistical matters of the tour. The final set of questions concentrated on topics I came across in my research, such as marketing, possible tour strategies for Deaf visitors, and educational programs targeted toward Deaf visitors to art museums. Through these questions, I hoped to retrieve information from local Deaf Chicagoans about their experiences and how art museums could better serve the Deaf community. When asked about the frequency of their museum attendance, two of the five participants said they had visited an art museum between one and three times within the last year. Two other participants said they had attended a science or a history museum, while the fifth participant had not visited any other museums in the last year. The participants that had made other museum visits said that they had enjoyed their experiences. Therefore, most of the participants had had some sort of museum experience prior to our visit as a group.

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In reference to the tour we had taken together at the AIC, the participants said they had enjoyed the experience. They felt that the docent’s knowledge of the art was thorough and that the interpreter did a great job of conveying all of the information. The participants also agreed that they would recommend the experience to other Deaf friends and family members. When asked if they had known about the interpreter services provided by the Art Institute of Chicago, the participants said they were aware due to marketing initiatives taken by the museum a few years earlier. Because the advertising campaign was done years ago and there is currently no set marketing initiative, the museum does not seem to be attracting Deaf audiences on a regular basis. Thus, marketing is one of the gaps in museum accessibility practice. Members of the AIC’s Education Department mentioned in a variety of conversations that the museum used to do a great deal of marketing toward the Deaf community about its sign language-interpreted tours. However, because attendance was low, the museum ceased offering scheduled sign language programs and switched to providing interpreters upon request. Since marketing is an important part of providing educational accessibility, I asked my focus group about effective marketing strategies to attract people who are Deaf. The participants were asked to recommend specific ways the museum could make more Deaf people aware of its interpreter services, and the general consensus was to advertise through local Web sites for Deaf people, including www.deafillinois.com and the Deaf Line page on www.chicagohearingsociety.org, and by sending representatives from the museum to Deaf churches such as St. Francis Borgia Parish. Access literature for arts organizations suggest

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utilizing local Deaf organizations and people as resources to evaluate the museum’s accommodations and provide advice on marketing and advertising (AAM, 1992; Deafworks, 2001; NEA, NEH, NASAA, JFK Center for Performing Arts, 2003). Yet, I am not so sure that marketing through the right channels would be enough to attract Deaf visitors. As mentioned in the Introduction of this thesis, Deaf people are part of a series of tight-knit communities. In the past, Deaf people created clubs across the nation in order to keep in contact outside of the residential schools they attended (Humphries, Padden, & O’Rourke, 1994). These days, Deaf people in the Chicagoland area meet monthly at bars and restaurants for an event called Duppies. This is a wonderful way for people in the local Deaf community to connect and keep in touch, and the event is attended by a loyal following. Perhaps if a large art museum such as the Art Institute of Chicago provided a scheduled sign language program that included a networking or socializing element, it could attract more Deaf visitors and become a regular addition to the museum’s calendar. Another good way to reach Deaf people would be to work with the organizer(s) of Duppies to hold one of the gatherings at the museum, thus combining an educational art program with a social event. According to Rebecca McGinnis, an access educator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, once the museum began adding a social element to its programming for the Deaf community, the museum started to attract larger crowds of Deaf visitors (Personal communication, December 1, 2008). In London, three out of ten museums reviewed in a publication by the Deaf organization Deafworks also offer a social aspect to their educational

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programs for Deaf visitors, which has “contributed to the deaf audience feeling they are patrons to the venue rather than just visitors” (2001, p. 10). Overall, the participants enjoyed the experience of the sign language-interpreted tour at the AIC and found it quite interesting. One participant suggested that the docent should have allowed more time for the interpreter to translate information and for asking questions. This participant felt that educating the docent about Deaf culture and how an interpreter works in a mixed crowd could resolve this issue. At the time of my focus group’s visit, the AIC had no program in place to train docents and other members of the education staff about how to work with interpreters and Deaf audiences or with other guests of varying communication and learning abilities. Staff training is a key component of educational programming for audiences with different abilities, yet it is a missing component in many art museums, and I consider it to be, along with the lack of marketing and advertising, an additional gap in museum accessibility practices. Another suggestion—this one influenced by the tour member’s request for the interpreter to move—was to somehow keep Deaf tour members separated from hearing ones so that the Deaf people could see the interpreter at all times and vice versa. However, according to Deafworks, separating hearing and Deaf patrons for a tour may be complicated because it is difficult to distinguish who is Deaf and who is hearing (2001). Due to this complication, museums must figure out what methods work for their individual institutions in terms of distinguishing between guests. For example, prior to a gallery talk for which an interpreter has been requested, Deaf visitors might check in at a designated place and receive

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a sticker or pin that would identify them as requiring an interpreter. If this process were explained to visitors when they contacted the museum to request an interpreter, then Deaf and hearing audiences for the same gallery talk might easily be distinguished from one another without anyone feeling alienated. The suggestions made by the participants of my focus group were also found in the access literature that I have read, but to hear them expressed firsthand allowed me to concretely understand what members of the Deaf community need in order to have equal access to the educational programming at art museums. After receiving this feedback and reading further about the Americans with Disabilities Act, I began to notice another gap in museum accessibility practices—the enforcement of the ADA within art museums. I feel that there could be a stronger, more influential manner in which to enforce the ADA in order to enhance the level of accommodations that art museums may or may not provide for people who are Deaf. In the following section of this thesis, I will discuss in detail the three main gaps I have discovered in museum accessibility practices and begin to analyze various forms of accommodations for Deaf visitors.

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Discussion “Accessibility does not have to be expensive. Experience has repeatedly shown that accommodations designed to serve people with disabilities generally improve the quality of programs for the broader public. In short, museums cannot afford not to make their programs accessible to all visitors.” (Majewski as cited in NEA, et al., p. 26, 2003) Since museums began making accessibility changes, each has developed its own strategy according to what works best for their individual institution. After all, since museums vary in size and location, each must find ways to serve the needs—whether socioeconomic, educational, or social—of the community in which it resides. Admittedly, every museum is different and some strategies may not work for all museums and their specific audiences. Therefore, in this section of my thesis, I would like to discuss my research on the best accessibility options art museums provide for the Deaf community today. Furthermore, I will discuss the gaps in accessibility mentioned in the previous section. I talk about not only the accessibility practices I found in U.S. art museums, but some that I discovered in England as well.

Gap #1: Training Of a typical museum staff, the employees who deal with the public most include those who work at the entrance of the institution, gallery guards, docents, and those involved in educational programming. I have discovered a gap in the training of these employees with regards to accommodating individuals with different abilities. According to the director of education at an Illinois university museum, both the staffs of her current place of

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employment and of the art museum where she previously worked had received little or no training with regards to working with disabled visitors (S. Prajapati, personal communication, October 29, 2008). It is hard to imagine how welcome visitors with disabilities might feel when visiting institutions that are not prepared to communicate with and provide accommodations for them. For instance, one woman in Massachusetts who frequents museums with her hearing dog must constantly explain the presence of the animal to the staff at museum entrances, as well as to the guards and other patrons she encounters in museum galleries (Cassedy, 1993). This situation results when members of the museum staff are unfamiliar with the accommodations available to visitors with different abilities. Coming across so much resistance during a museum visit can discourage one from visiting again. In order to bridge this gap, museums can work with organizations or consulting companies that specialize in the area of disabilities. These organizations and consultants can help create and/or implement training programs for a museum’s staff and audit the museum’s accessibility practices. For instance, in the city of Chicago, the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities provides disability awareness training for the workplace. Also, according to its Web site, the Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center (DBTAC), a national organization made up of ten regional centers, offers training in several disability-related subjects, including programs tailored to individual institutions, and provides information, referrals, and resources about the Americans with Disabilities Act. In the case of university museums, because they serve the school and its student population, they should develop a

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relationship with and consult the department for students with disabilities to assist in obtaining accessibility resources and/or creating a training program for museum employees. It is quite important for programmatic accessibility that museum staff members who are in any way involved with educating the public receive training on how to work with and educate Deaf audiences. But what exactly should museum educators know about the Deaf community and about educating this audience? During training about deaf populations, educators should learn about the different types and levels of deafness that exist; the difference between deaf, hard of hearing, and Deaf people; information about American Sign Language and other types of signed languages; how to communicate with people who are deaf and hard of hearing; and teaching strategies for deaf learners. It is also essential to train educators about the assistive technologies available in the museum for d/Deaf audiences and how to use these devices. Additionally, museum educators should know the roles of sign language interpreters in the lives of Deaf people and how to work with interpreters in a museum setting. For instance, educators who are working with interpreters should provide the interpreter with an outline of what will be discussed as well as a list of technical art and historical terms that will be used; know where and how to stand so that both the interpreter and educator can be seen; and know the appropriate pace at which to speak so the interpreter can translate properly. Most importantly, any type of disabilities awareness training should emphasize the person and his or her needs instead of focusing on the disability alone; no matter what, everyone wants to be treated with respect and dignity (NEA, et al., 2003). After all, we are all disabled in one way or another—not one person is perfect in every aspect of

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life. Once training programs have been established and implemented for appropriate (if not all) staff members and the art museum is equipped to accommodate members of the Deaf community, a marketing plan should be developed so that all efforts and preparations do not go unused.

Gap #2: Marketing and Advertisements An additional gap I have noticed between art museums and accessibility practices is the lack of marketing targeted at members of the Deaf community. Art museums that have difficulty attracting Deaf audiences to scheduled programs may have flaws in their marketing methods. Just as art museums have different marketing strategies for school programs, community programs, family programs, and adult programs, these institutions should also consider creating advertisements that are targeted directly toward members of the Deaf community. As mentioned by my focus group participants in the previous Story section, some very good ways to advertise toward members of the Deaf community include placing ads on the Web sites of local Deaf people and Deaf organizations and sending museum representatives to Deaf churches. Additionally, in order to improve upon existing marketing plans, museums can solicit Deaf organizations and local Deaf art museum goers for marketing help and advice. It would also be wise for museums to acknowledge people of varying abilities in all advertisements through the simple use of logos such as the sample shown in Appendix E. Acknowledging accommodations in general advertising would create

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awareness about these services to everyone who sees the ads, thus revealing this valuable information to the friends and family members of someone who is Deaf or has a different type of ability (Deafworks, 2001; NEA, NEH, NASAA & JFK Center for Performing Arts, 2003). Such marketing initiatives can also help create awareness about people with different abilities and their rights to accommodations. Plus, accommodations that are used by people with disabilities can also serve the general public (NEA, NEH, NASAA & JFK Center for Performing Arts, 2003). For instance, wheelchair accessibility benefits people with strollers and anyone who has trouble walking, while captioned films can help English language learners and young children enhance their reading skills and better understand films. These are all logical methods and appropriate reasons for art museums to develop marketing initiatives targeted toward members of the Deaf community, but what about the financial and economic reasons? Most people do not consider art museums as a business, but rather as a source of entertainment or as a supplemental educational resource. Nevertheless, there is a business aspect to museums; these institutions must attract visitors for additional revenue or to keep the outside funding they receive so that works of art can be preserved, protected, viewed, and researched for years to come. After all, what is the point of a museum if people do not attend? People with disabilities are a growing demographic that businesses such as art museums gloss over as potential visitors, customers, audience members, etc. According to Solutions Marketing Group, a marketing company that specializes in consumers with disabilities, people with disabilities in the United States have $220 billion in discretionary

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income (2008). Although I could not find statistics specific to the Deaf community, the reader can imagine that even a 1 percent portion of $220 billion is a considerable chunk of money. Additionally, considering the fact that anyone can become or develop a disability at any point, preparing and advertising educational programs for people with disabilities is surely of relevance to any service provider looking to increase revenue and attendance.

Gap #3: ADA Enforcement Since the ADA was passed in 1990, several books and other resources have been published about making private and public cultural institutions accessible to people with disabilities. If this is the case, why do issues regarding accommodations for museumgoers persist to this day? I believe that the largest gap between art museums and accessibility for visitors with disabilities owes to the implementation of the ADA. According to the ADA, institutions are excused from providing accommodations for patrons with disabilities if such accommodations cause an undue financial burden (Jasper, 2008). This burden is loosely defined, which makes sense since each institution’s ability to provide accommodations may differ. Nonetheless, this room for interpretation should not be used as a way for institutions to wiggle out of their responsibility for providing equal access to visitors with disabilities. Also, within the ADA, there is no method of enforcement that makes service providers directly responsible for minimizing barriers to people with disabilities. However, the ADA states two methods of challenging such barriers: by reporting instances of discrimination to the Department of Justice and by filing an individual lawsuit with the U.S.

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District Court. If one files a complaint to the Department of Justice, the complaint is assessed through an investigation, leading to a settlement. If the situation cannot be settled, then the complaint will be taken to court on behalf of the government (Jasper, 2008). One of the main problems with these two methods of enforcement is that such court cases may take a long time to settle. In addition, these methods of enforcement fail to put the responsibility of compliance on the institutions; it is the person with the disability who is held accountable for reporting an institution that does not comply with ADA laws. These two types of enforcement do not directly motivate art museums or any other institution to prevent accessibility barriers. As a result, different terms of enforcement and accountability need to be established in order for institutions such as art museums to become more proactive in changing their accessibility practices. Concerned citizens and members of the Deaf community can play a role in improving ADA enforcement. There are changes that could be made to improve the enforcement methods prescribed by the Americans with Disabilities Act in order to enhance the law’s effectiveness. One such possible change would be to create a committee in each state that would provide assistance to cultural institutions such as museums to improve their level of ADA compliance. A good example of such a committee is the New York State Council on the Arts’ access advisory committee. This committee provides arts organizations in the state with resources on how to be more accessible to people with disabilities. For individual museums, access advisory committees can be formed at the local art institution as well.2 An access advisory committee can be made up “of board member(s), executive director, program directors, Accessibility

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Coordinator, and consultants who represent and/or have disabilities. The consultants may be artists, cultural administrators, educators, accessibility experts, interested legislators, participants and audience members” (National Endowment for the Arts, 2004). Another way to bridge the ADA gap in art museums is to have museum organizations such as the American Association of Museums (AAM) create more stringent accessibility standards for physical and educational access when considering museums for accreditation or membership. Additionally, local Deaf and/or arts organizations can create an accessibility report card that grades the accessibility methods and programs of art museums in the area.3 A report card can be an effective way for Deaf organizations to evaluate the Web site, educational programs, and physical accessibility of a museum; it can let a museum know what it is doing well and what it can improve on in the area of accessibility, while at the same time empowering Deaf organizations and community members. Enforcement methods such as these would allow public and private institutions in our society as a whole to take more responsibility in providing equal educational access for members of the Deaf community.

A Comparison of Accommodations in England and the U.S. Through my research, I discovered that England has a law similar to the ADA called the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), which was put into effect in 1995, five years after the ADA. The DDA is quite similar to the ADA even in wording. Nevertheless, museums in England have taken more steps than museums in the U.S. to provide accommodations for their Deaf audiences.

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Although there is no definitive research explaining why the DDA has been more effective in arts institutions than the ADA, I believe this difference could be due to the fact that the English government has taken a more proactive role in informing service providers of their duties under these laws. A 2007 report by the U.S. National Council on Disability (NCD) called Implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act: Challenges, Best Practices, and New Opportunities for Success outlined the NCD’s research into effective implementation of the ADA laws and what factors could be preventing such implementation. One of the implementation issues mentioned in the report is a “lack [of] information, education, and training on how the ADA applies to [Title III entities, which include art museums] and how to take steps to comply”; to solve this issue the NCD recommends compiling a report with information about the ADA and how to comply and sending it out to various service-providing associations such as the Council of Better Business Bureaus or, in the case of art museums, national and statewide arts councils and arts organizations. Whatever the reasons may be for the difference between the implementation of disability laws in England and the United States, art institutions in England have come up with some great solutions for involving the Deaf community in the arts. One of the most impressive initiatives I discovered in England is a consortium of sixteen museums in London catering to the deaf and hearing-impaired community called MAGIC (Museums and Galleries in the Capital). 4 Museums that participate on the MAGIC Web site include the British Museum, the Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery, the National Gallery, the Royal Academy of the Arts, Tate Britain, Tate Modern, the Victoria and Albert

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Museum, and more. The Web site posts all the events that each museum provides for the Deaf community in London and allows online visitors to provide feedback about these museums’ programming. The site also includes videos in BSL with information about the service. The events posted on the Web site consist of lectures and/or tours that may be either interpreted or conducted by a person who is Deaf. These museums do not all provide the same accommodations; some of the sixteen represented on the site seem to provide more accommodations than others. The MAGIC Web site is a wonderful way of consolidating information so that Deaf visitors can find programs for multiple museums at once. After my search for a consortium of equal caliber in the United States, I came away empty-handed. In the United States, if a Deaf person wants to know whether art museums can accommodate their needs, they must navigate the museums’ Web sites individually and/or contact them via e-mail, TTY (teletypewriter, which is a telephone system connected to a keyboard), or relay service (a third-party operator service that allows people who are deaf or hard of hearing to connect from their TTY, Web cam, or video phone with someone on a standard phone). Another exemplary museum program is part of the Wolverhampton Arts and Museums, which consists of an art gallery, a historic home and park, and a craft gallery in Wolverhampton, England (near Birmingham). Visitors to the Bantock House Museum’s Web site can see that the museum provides services for the Deaf community in British Sign Language; it includes a link to a series of BSL videos that give information about the museum and the exhibitions. The site also announces that the museum provides handheld

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video guides for Deaf visitors who primarily communicate using BSL. In this way, visitors are assured that the museum is accessible to the Deaf community. In a search of several U.S. art museum Web sites, I was unable to find any that advertised ASL video guides or similar services for Deaf visitors. In terms of technology, there is a U.S. company called Keen Guides, Inc. that is in the process of developing ASL, closed captioned, cued speech, and audio tour guides that are downloadable for portable media players such as iPods. It is not yet in full swing, but there is a sample of their services available online for the National Gallery in Washington, D.C.5 Once up and running, Keen Guides will offer their services to museums, galleries, monuments, college campuses, or any other institution that provides tours for visitors. The company will also offer a package of preloaded media players for institutions to rent. Currently, there are many larger art museums in the U.S. that use similar technologies for self-guided tours, but I was not able to find any that provide ASL video guides. In the United States, there is an exemplary accessibility program at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) in New York. It has a wonderful access program for people with visual impairments, blindness, hearing impairments, deafness, learning and developmental disabilities, and dementia. These programs are largely due to the fact that the museum has two access educators in charge of creating programming for people with varying abilities. I spoke with one of these access educators, Rebecca McGinnis, about the MET’s programs for the Deaf community. She said the MET not only provides ASL interpretation for tours, it offers ASL tours with a voice interpreter—meaning the tour is given in ASL and those who

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are able to hear are provided an English interpreter. The MET also provides ASL interpretation for one family program per month. Two to three times a year, it also hosts a large-scale event for people who use American Sign Language called “An Evening of Art and ASL” that includes interpreted and sign language tours and a catered post-tour reception. McGinnis said that bringing a social aspect to museum events for the Deaf community allows Deaf visitors an opportunity to interact and develop a trusting and loyal relationship with the museum (Personal communication, December 1, 2008). These programs provided by the art museum are free of charge with admission and do not require an appointment. In addition, the MET’s Web site includes a downloadable brochure, updated monthly, with the dates and times of the aforementioned events. While searching through the Web sites of U.S. art museums, I have found a few other major New York art institutions that have also developed exemplary programming for members of the Deaf community. These museums include the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Whitney Museum of American Art, Guggenheim New York, and The Frick Collection. With so many of its museums offering regular programming for Deaf individuals, the city of New York seems the most likely candidate to create a Web site equivalent to England’s MAGIC. Perhaps the New York State Council on the Arts can partner with local Deaf organizations and New York museums to create a central Web site for Deaf programming. After speaking with Rebecca McGinnis of the MET and ASL interpreters like Amanda Torrey, and looking into successful museum programs for the Deaf, I realized

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something important about programming for the Deaf community in art museums. Torrey mentioned the importance of creating a team or a sense of camaraderie and cooperation when working with clients (Personal communication, March 25, 2009). Meanwhile, McGinnis cited the added success of the MET’s sign language programs once the museum began incorporating a social element (Personal communication, December 1, 2008). Their input helped me realize that it is quite important for an art museum to develop a relationship with members of the Deaf community through social interaction instead of merely by providing programming in American Sign Language. It seems that members of the Deaf community are more likely to participate in a museum event that allows them time to interact with one another and members of staff. By identifying the gaps in art museum programming for the Deaf, looking into Deaf programming at various art institutions, and conducting a focus group with Deaf adults, I have gained insight into how museums can provide quality programs for people in the Deaf community. In the following section, I would like to conclude the ideas from this thesis and provide recommendations for institutions on how to design programming that can enhance the experiences of Deaf museumgoers.

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Conclusion and Recommendations

The main focus of this thesis is to identify those accommodations art museums provide for Deaf visitors that can enhance their experiences within these institutions. In order to reach this goal I have provided information about Deaf culture, American Sign Language, issues that exist within the Deaf community, and government policies that affect art museums with regard to people who are Deaf. In addition, I discussed the gaps that exist between art museums and the creation of successful programming for the Deaf community, and provided examples of effective art museum programs in place today. My purpose was not to criticize any museum, but to critically analyze what art museums are missing when considering programming for people who are Deaf and to distinguish which accommodations are most effective. Furthermore, to conclude this thesis with the results of my research, I am providing a list of recommendations for art museums on how to develop or enhance their programs for the Deaf community. I am also including a set of recommendations for the Deaf community on how to maximize their influence in the museum world and how to create equal access to educational programming. Also, in order to make my research more accessible, I have created a blog that will allow museum professionals to access this research, which will be emailed to various art museums and Deaf organizations in Illinois and other states.6 For more detailed information about these recommendations, the reader can refer to the Story and Discussion section of this thesis.

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List of Recommendations for Art Museums Since all museums are different, these recommendations can be adjusted and chosen to fit the requirements of each institution and the communities they serve. Additionally, it is important to note that making a museum more accessible for visitors who are Deaf or have different abilities will not happen overnight; it takes a lot of time, planning, and trial and error to find the most effective ways to provide accommodations for visitors. It is also important to note that once accessibility for Deaf visitors has been achieved, museums should try to accommodate people with other disabilities as well; it is better to include groups of people into an accessibility plan one at a time to ensure the effectiveness of the programs. The following list includes steps that museums can take to enhance accommodations and programming for people who are Deaf:

1. Access coordinator. Museums with successful accessibility programs have people on staff—usually in the Education Department—who are responsible for developing, creating, and evaluating programs for people with varying abilities (Deafworks, 2001). Having an access coordinator or access educator on staff would not only help with the development of programs for people with disabilities, it would also help the museum create awareness about the needs of people who have different abilities.7 The work of an access coordinator or access educator can be assigned as a full-time job or combined with the

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responsibilities of someone in a similar, existing position at the museum; it is up to each museum to decide which option best fits their institution. However, it is important that whoever takes on these responsibilities has a background in or has access to being trained in providing services for people with disabilities. For instance, the Education Department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has two access coordinators who work on creating and implementing programs for visitors with varying abilities. Because of the work being done by these access coordinators, the institution is a great example of an art museum that provides equal access in programming for visitors who learn in many different ways.8 2. Audit. In conjunction with a local Deaf organization, local Deaf people, and/or a disability organization, museums can conduct an audit of their physical environment and the accessibility programs they provide for the Deaf community. To help with such an audit, museums in the Chicago area can work with disability organizations such as Access Living, the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD), the Open Doors Organization (ODO), and the Midwest branch of the Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center (DBTAC) as well as deaf organizations including the Illinois Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission (IDHHC) and the Chicago Hearing Society (CHS). 9 Once an audit has been completed, museums should work with the auditors or consultants to come up with ways to eliminate physical and social barriers and improve programming. Another good option would be to create an access advisory committee, which can be

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made up of members of the local Deaf community, Deaf organizations, and the museum staff, to continually evaluate the state of the access programs that the institution provides for the public.10 3. Trainings. It is essential that all museum employees be aware of and trained in the museum’s accessibility policy and practices. And since these employees come into contact with the public the most, docents, educators, gallery guards, and security staff—if not all members of staff—should be trained on how to communicate and work with members of the Deaf community. Docents and other educators should receive more detailed training on how to work with an interpreter and other strategies that would help with educating and communicating information to people who are Deaf. Art museums in Chicago can work with the groups and organizations mentioned in the previous Audit section to create and/or administer trainings for museum employees. Furthermore, museums can start a docent training program for skilled sign language interpreters or for people who are Deaf and have an interest and/or background in the arts so that the museum can offer regularly scheduled tours and programs in sign language by informed docents. Since the 1970s, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has been providing such a docent training program (Rebecca McGinnis, personal communication, December 1, 2008). By involving members of the Deaf community in its education process, museums can encourage and empower the Deaf community to become more active and

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integrated into general society as well as create close, long-term ties with the community, which could result in a beneficial increase in attendance by Deaf visitors. 4. Marketing. If a museum or other arts organization wants to provide programming for the Deaf community, the institution must develop a marketing plan to communicate this information effectively. Access icons that convey accommodations such as sign language interpretation and closed/open captioning should be included in all general marketing schemes if the institution provides these services. Advertisements should also include contact information via TTY, TDD, or e-mail so that a consumer who is Deaf can contact the institution easily. Including such information in all marketing and advertising initiatives would help reach more people and increase awareness about accessibility. Also, museums can contact local Deaf groups, clubs, organizations, churches, and schools about giving presentations on Deaf programming, handing out marketing materials, or coming up with programs specifically catered to a particular Deaf group. In the Chicago area, the Open Doors Organization (ODO) helps businesses in the field of disability marketing. a. Web site development. Since people with disabilities rely heavily on the Internet for information, museums and other arts organizations must have an “accessibility” section that is easy to find on their homepage (Solutions Marketing Group, 2008). Art museums should provide as much information about accessibility and accessible events on their Web site as possible. For example, a downloadable calendar of accessible

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events would be helpful for online visitors. Furthermore, including a brief video in American Sign Language about the accessibility options for Deaf visitors would show all visitors to the Web site that the museum welcomes sign language users and provides appropriate accommodations. Web sites’ accessibility sections should also include TTY, TDD, and/or e-mail contact information that a Deaf person can use if he or she has any questions or concerns. The Bantock House page on the Wolverhampton Arts and Museums Web site is exemplary; it offers informational videos in British Sign Language about the museum and its exhibitions.11 Another great resource for the British Deaf community is MAGIC, which is a consortium of sixteen museums in London that provide programming for members of the Deaf community and use the MAGIC Web site to post information about Deaf programming.12 These two Web sites are favorable examples of how to communicate institutional and programmatic information to Deaf museum visitors. 5. Social component. Because the Deaf community is very tight-knit, I have found from my research of various museum programs for the Deaf that adding a social component to educational programming helps increase comfort levels and build loyal attendance (Rebecca McGinnis, personal communication, December 1, 2008; Deafworks, 2001). This social component may consist of a reception with food and drinks or any sort of informal gathering where Deaf visitors can socialize with each other and museum staff members

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before or after a program. Art museums in the Chicago area can work with the Chicago Deaf and Hard of Hearing Cultural Center (CDHHCC) to bring social and art educationrelated events to the art museum setting.13 Local museums might also contact the organizer(s) of Duppies, a Deaf happy hour that takes place at various Chicago area bars, and offer to host one of the monthly gatherings. This would provide a great opportunity for museums to introduce their facilities and services to members of the Deaf community and for museum staff to learn more about the local community.

List of Recommendations for Members of the Deaf Community When changes are needed in an established institution, both the institution and the people it serves should play a role in facilitating those changes. If members of the Deaf community want museums to improve their accessibility programs and accommodations, then the Deaf community must put forth effort to help the museums do so. The following is a list of steps that Deaf organizations and members of the Deaf community can take to help art museums make the necessary changes to assure equal access:

1. Forge relationships. Before making any other move, members of the Deaf community should take initiative in forging relationships with art museums. Many members of society, including those who work at art museums, are unaware of the needs of the Deaf community or are unaware of the Deaf population in their city. Thus, it would be advantageous to Deaf organizations to introduce

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themselves to their local art museums and attempt to forge long-term relationships. Deaf organizations can contact the director of education or another museum employee involved in public education programming and provide them with information about local Deaf groups, organizations, and schools that would enjoy making more visits to the art museum if appropriate accommodations were provided. From there, the Deaf community and the museum could work together to enhance museum programming utilizing the resources available at the museum and within the Deaf community. 2. Raise funds. All art museums vary in their ability to serve as well as in their methods for serving visitors. Some museums are unable to or do not consider setting aside part of their budget to increase accessibility for visitors with different abilities. Hence, members of the Deaf community might consider organizing with art museums to raise funds specifically for enhancing accommodations and equal-access programming. Before fund-raising methods are organized, it is important that the Deaf community establish a mutual relationship with the art museum. Once the relationship is established and both the Deaf community and the art museum are ready to work together to enhance accommodations and programming for Deaf visitors, then members of the Deaf community should suggest and attempt to raise money for Deaf programming in the museum. 3. Volunteer. Providing funding alone may not suffice when it comes to helping museums increase programmatic access for Deaf audiences. An art museum may have funds to increase and

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enhance accommodations for the Deaf community, but it may not have the manpower to do so. Thus, members of the Deaf community can provide human resources that may be lacking in the art museum. A combination of fund-raising and volunteering is the best way to help a museum increase and improve its programming for people who are Deaf. Again, it is advisable to first establish a solid and mutual relationship with the museum in order to ensure initiatives are productive and effective. 4. Create a report card. A local Deaf organization and/or members of the Deaf community can create a report card to evaluate museum Web sites and programming based on the needs of the Deaf community. For example, the report card may rate a museum Web site based on its accessibility information or museum staff members on their ability to communicate with Deaf visitors. Meanwhile, a museum might be rated for its ability to provide programming in sign language or sign language interpreters, etc. Completed evaluations could be combined in a report and sent to museums to let them know how they can improve their accommodations as well as to Deaf organizations throughout the U.S. as encouragement to create their own report cards. The Illinois Safe Schools Alliance created an excellent report card that evaluates lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning (LGBTQ) issues in programs that prepare educators to work in schools across Illinois; Deaf organizations may use this report card as an example of how to evaluate programs and institutions.14

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5. Report injustices and inequality. It is the right of all people, regardless of ability, to be treated equally. Therefore, members of the Deaf community should report any instance of inequality they experience at art museums, as well as elsewhere. However, before a complaint is filed against an art museum, one must give the institution in question an opportunity to arrange accommodations with the resources it has available. The Americans with Disabilities Act provides two ways of ensuring enforcement of accessibility laws. One way is to file a complaint with the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice will then investigate the matter and try to mediate a settlement or take the matter to court. The other method requires the victim of injustice to sue the accused party at his or her own expense. On a more local level, Deaf Chicagoans can contact the Chicago Commission on Human Relations (CCHR) to report cases of unequal treatment.15 Chicagoans can also contact Access Living for legal counseling on discrimination claims.16

Conclusion With the completion of my thesis, I tie the fifth string to the other four. From here, I will tie the ends of the combined string together to create a full circle by sharing my research with the people and institutions that might benefit from the work. For the future, I would like to continue sharing my research with art museums, arts organizations, and the Deaf community to enhance museum programming for people who are Deaf. My hopes for the future also include increased attendance at art museums by members of the Deaf community

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and a higher number of Deaf museum volunteers and employees. Last but not least, I hope that museums in the United States begin taking on the responsibility of providing services for all people of all abilities and serving as a role model for other institutions.

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References AG Bell. Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing home page. Retrieved April 21, 2008, from http://www.agbell.org/DesktopDefault.aspx?linkid=1. American Association of Museums (AAM). (1992). The accessible museum: Model programs of accessibility for disabled and older people. Washington, D.C.: AAM. Bower, B. (2000). The brain spreads its sights in the deaf. Science News, 158(13), 198. Brueggemann, B. (1995). The coming out of Deaf culture and American sign language: An exploration into visual rhetoric and literacy. Rhetoric Review, 13(2), 409-420. Cassedy, S. (1993, January/February). The hearing dog’s tale: Campaign to raise awareness in the museum community about hearing dogs and the laws pertaining to them. Museum News, 72, 14-16. Charrow, V.R., Wilbur, R.B. (1975). The Deaf child as a linguistic minority. Theory into Practice, 14(5), Language Use and Acquisition, 353-359. Deafworks. (2001). Access for deaf people to museums and galleries: A review of good practice in London. London: Deafworks. Derycke, B. (1994). Deaf guides in French museums. Museum International, 46(4), 48-50. Derycke, B. (1995). Vive la communication [International Visual Art Association for Deaf People]. Museums Journal, 95(6), 39. Dewey, John. (1916). Democracy and education: An introduction to the philosophy of education. New York: The Macmillan Company. Erting, C.J. (1985). Cultural conflict in a school for deaf children. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 16(3), 225-243. Fleischer, D.Z., Zames, F. (2001). The disability rights movement: From charity to confrontation. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. Holt, J., Hotto, S., Cole, K. (1994). Demographic aspects of hearing impairment: Questions and Answers (3rd ed.). Retrieved March 3, 2008, from Gallaudet University, Center for Assessment and Demographic Studies, Gallaudet Research Institute Web site http://gri.gallaudet.edu/Demographics/factsheet.html#Q3.

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Humphries, T., Padden, C., O’Rourke, T. (1994). A basic course in American sign language. (2nd ed.). Silver Spring, MD: T.J. Publishers, Inc. Jasper, M.C. (2008). Americans with disabilities act. (2nd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. Ladd, P. (2003). Understanding deaf culture: In search of deafhood. New York: Multilingual Matters, Ltd. Lipsey, D., McCarty, K. (2007). Envisioning a new campus culture of collaboration. Gallaudet University: SLCC Visioning Workshop. Washington, D.C.: ADR Vantage, Inc. McDermott, R., Varenne, H. (1995). Culture as disability. Anthropology and Education Quarterly, 26, 323-348. National Association for the Deaf (NAD). National Association of the Deaf home page. Retrieved November 16, 2009, from http://www.nad.org/about-us. National Council on Disability (NCD). (July 26, 2007) Implementation of the Americans with disabilities act: Challenges, best practices, and new opportunities for success. Retrieved April 2, 2009, from http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/publications/2007/implementation_07-2607.htm#_Toc167075604. National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Nation Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA), & The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. (2003). Design for accessibility: A cultural administrator’s handbook. Washington, D.C.: National Assembly of State Arts Agencies. National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). (December 14, 2004). Accessibility planning and resource guide for cultural administrators. Retrieved August 16, 2009, from http://arts.endow.gov/resources/accessibility/Planning/index.html. O’Leary, Zina. (2004). The essential guide to doing research. Los Angeles: Sage Publications. Pelka, Fred. (1997). The ABC-CLIO companion to the disability rights movement. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, Inc.

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Richner, N., Prezant, F., & Rosen, P. (2006). All access pass: Making a small museum disabled-friendly. Museum News. Retrieved November 2, 2008, from the Web site of the American Association of Museums at http://www.aamus.org/pubs/mn/MN_JA06_richner-allaccess.cfm. Rutherford, S.D. (1983). Funny in deaf. Not in hearing. The Journal of American Folklore, 96(381), 310-322. Said, E.W. (1994). Representations of the intellectual. New York: Vintage Books. Senghas, R.J., Monaghan, L. (2002). Signs of their times: Deaf communities and the culture of languages. Annual Review of Anthropology, 31, 69-97. Smith, M.E.G., Campbell, P. (1997). Discourses on deafness: Social policy and the communicative habilitation of the deaf. Canadian Journal of Sociology / Cahiers Canadians de sociologie, 22(4), 437-456. Smith, K.L., Bienvenu, M.J. (2007). Deaf theory: What can we learn from feminist theory? Multicultural Education, 15(1), 58-63. Solutions Marketing Group. (2007). Disability facts. Retrieved on November 15, 2008, from http://disability-marketing.com/facts/. Suggs, Trudy. (2003). Alpha teach yourself American sign language in 24 hours. Indianapolis: Alpha Books. Tucker, B.P. (1997). The ADA and deaf culture: Contrasting precepts, conflicting results. Annals for the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 549, 24-36. Tucker, B.P. (1998). Deaf culture, cochlear implants, and elective disability. The Hastings Center Report, 28(4), 6-14. Wright, P. (1989). The quality of visitors’ experiences in art museums. In P. Vergo (Ed.), The new museology (pp. 119-148). London: Reaktion Books Ltd.

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Appendix A
Hearing Impaired Group Level of Hearing Loss Main Communication Knowledge Community Method of a Signed of More Information (U.S. & Canada) Language Association • Consider themselves as hearing people who have developed a hearing impairment • Make up vast majority of hearing impaired • Many do not take action to help with hearing loss • People who became deaf after acquiring spoken language • Easily confused with the hard of hearing group • More likely to seek help in dealing with hearing loss • People who were born deaf or became deaf at a young age • Have sought help with hearing loss • People who were born deaf or became deaf at a young age • Do not consider themselves as disabled
Information in chart from www.hearinglossweb.com

Hard of Hearing

Mild to profound

Spoken or written None or very English little

Hearing

Late Deafened

Severe to profound

Written English, speech reading, and/or a form of signed language

Varies Learned as a second language

Hearing

Oral Deaf

Severe to profound

Written English, speech reading, and/or a form of signed language

Varies Learned as a second language

Hearing

Culturally Deaf

Severe to profound

American Sign Language

Fluent Learned as first language

Deaf

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Appendix B

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Appendix C

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Appendix D

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Appendix E

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Appendix F 1. Introductory Questions: a. How often have you been to an art museum in the last year? i. What about other museums? b. Why do you choose to go so often/not so often? c. Was there ever a specific experience that influenced you to attend/not to attend art museums? d. Does your frequency of attendance have anything to do with the accommodations that art museums provide? e. Do you feel that art museums must provide accommodations for Deaf visitors? 2. Questions Regarding this Visit: a. How do you feel about the accommodations made for this tour? b. How did you feel about the content of the tour? c. Was there a part of the tour that you particularly enjoyed? d. Was there a portion of the tour that you did not enjoy? e. What do you think about the skills of the interpreter? f. Were you able to see the artwork properly while following the interpreter? g. Did you feel as though you had enough time to ask questions? i. Would you prefer asking questions during the tour or after the tour? h. What are your overall feelings about this art museum experience? i. Would you recommend this experience to other Deaf friends or members of the community? 3. Thesis-Related Questions: a. Were you aware that the AIC provides interpreted gallery talks for Deaf people? b. What are some things the AIC could do to make more Deaf people in the community aware of their accommodations? c. What changes would you make to gallery talks to make them more enjoyable for members of the Deaf community? d. Would you prefer an interpreted gallery talk (like tonight) or would you rather attend a gallery talk with a guide who is fluent in ASL (without an interpreter)? e. Would you rather go on a tour with a mixed hearing and deaf audience (like tonight) or would you rather be in a deaf only crowd? f. If the AIC set aside one day every month for ASL speakers, would you be more likely to come? i. Would it help attendance if there were some sort of gathering for the deaf audience afterwards? ii. If you were approached by the museum to volunteer your time to be trained and do tours once a month in ASL, would you accept?

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Resource Notes 1. This commercial can viewed at http://www.pepsiusa.com/index.php?panel=bobshouse. 2. The publication titled Accessibility Planning and Resource Guide for Cultural Administrators has a section that explains specifically how to create an access advisory committee and is available for download at http://www.nea.gov/resources/Accessibility/ Planning/index.html. 3. A great example of a report card can be downloaded and read using Adobe Acrobat Reader. This report card evaluates lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning (LGBTQ) issues in programs that prepare educators to work in schools across Illinois. It can be found at http://www.illinoissafeschools.org/page_attachments/0000/0030/ VisibilityMatters_ReportCard.pdf. 4. The MAGIC Web site address is http://www.magicdeaf.org.uk/. 5. This sample can be found at http://www.keenguides.com/view-a-tour/. 6. The blog is titled Accessibility for the Deaf Community in Art Museums and can be found at www.museumaccess4deaf.blogspot.com. 7. The publication titled Accessibility Planning and Resource Guide for Cultural Administrators has a section specifically about designating an access coordinator and is available for download at http://www.nea.gov/resources/Accessibility/Planning /index.html. 8. To see the programs the MET provides for visitors with disabilities, please visit their Web site at http://www.metmuseum.org/events/visitorsdisabilities/. 9. Access Living’s Educational Presentations: http://www.accessliving.org/index.php?tray=topic_inline_all&tid=top655&cid=109 MOPD Training Services: http://cityofchicago.org/city/webportal/portalContentItemAction.do?BV_SessionID=@@ @@1216834882.1252428870@@@@&BV_EngineID=cccfadeifgmkjlecefecelldffhdfhk .0&contentOID=9714&contenTypeName=COC_EDITORIAL&topChannelName=Dept &blockName=Disabilities%2FTraining+Services%2FI+Want+To&context=dept&chann elId=0&programId=0&entityName=Disabilities&deptMainCategoryOID=-536884740

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ODO Corporate Programs: http://opendoorsnfp.org/page4.html DBTAC Great Lakes Training: http://www.adagreatlakes.org/ProgramsAndServices/Trainings/ IDHHC Public Awareness: http://www.idhhc.state.il.us/familyInfo/publicAwareness.htm CHS Social Services & Advocacy: http://www.chicagohearingsociety.org/Programs/Social_services_advocacy.htm 10. The publication titled Accessibility Planning and Resource Guide for Cultural Administrators also has a section specifically about creating an access advisory committee and is available for download at http://www.nea.gov/resources/Accessibility/ Planning/index.html. 11. http://www.wolverhamptonart.org.uk/bantock/the_house/bsl 12. To view the MAGIC Web site, visit http://magicdeaf.org.uk/. 13. Visit the CDHHCC’s Web site at http://www.embracedeafculture.org/html/home.htm. 14. To view the Alliance’s report card with Adobe Reader visit http://www.illinoissafeschools.org/page_attachments/0000/0030/VisibilityMatters_Repor tCard.pdf 15. CCHR Guide to Discrimination Complaints: http://egov.cityofchicago.org/city/webportal/portalDeptCategoryAction.do?BV_SessionI D=@@@@0789180013.1252435410@@@@&BV_EngineID=ccceadeifhdlhjdcefecelld ffhdfif.0&deptCategoryOID=536892645&contentType=COC_EDITORIAL&topChannelName=Dept&entityName=H uman+Relations&deptMainCategoryOID=-536891473 16. Access Living Legal Counseling: http://www.accessliving.org/index.php?tray=topic_inline_all&tid=top653&cid=107

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