What is accessibility? What is inclusive design? And why are they important?
More than one billion people in the world have some form of disability, explains Sina Bahram, founder of Prime Access Consulting, in this keynote address delivered at the 2019 Tessitura Learning & Community Conference. Between 110 million and 190 million have significant impairment.
So the most important question is: how do arts and cultural organizations make themselves accessible to everyone, regardless of ability?
A bench in a video room at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
Another photo of the same bench at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
Sina discusses principles from universal and inclusive design, where the design process is not restricted to interfaces or technologies for which a product, service, or environment is optimized for a specific person with specific needs.
These principles range from equitable use to tolerance for error: Can people with different abilities get an equitable experience? Can people access and interact with your content in their preferred way? Can people appreciate your content without needing much physical effort or dexterity? And can people always return to a known starting point, no matter where they are?
Contemplating these questions can feel daunting. But, Sina emphasizes, inclusion leads to innovation. He provides examples from organizations such as MCA Chicago and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, among others, and offers practical advice for those unsure of where to start.
“You don't have to be an expert... You can influence how others feel.”
This talk was the keynote address at the 2019 Tessitura Learning and Community Conference in Chicago, Ill. in July 2019.