Webinar: Increasing Accessibility and Inclusion at Community Organizations

Webinar Description

For individuals with developmental disabilities like autism spectrum disorders and their families, accessing community arts, civic, and cultural events can be challenging and at times, feel incredibly overwhelming. The uncertainty of new situations – will they feel overwhelmed, will their child have a melt-down and need to leave as soon as they arrive, will they be judged by other people – can be enough to deter an individual or family from seeking experiences that could be enjoyable and enriching for their child and for their family as a whole.

This webinar series is a two-part series. The first webinar will highlight an overview of neurodiversity, accessibility, and inclusion as well as a focus on autism spectrum disorders and respectfully communicate to and about this population. The second part of the series will include lessons learned and practical applications from Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage and recommendations for actionable first steps to increase accessibility and inclusion at your organization.

Details

DATES: PART I: January 7, 2020 | PART II: January 23, 2020

TIME: 3:00 - 4:00 pm EASTERN (Remember to adjust for your time zone)

COST: $30 AASLH and Texas Historical Commission Members / $50 Nonmembers (Texas Historical Commission members should contact THC for a discount code)

REGISTRATION: Registration includes both Part I and Part II of the AASLH Increasing Accessibility and Inclusion at Community Organizations webinar series.

REGISTER HERE

We will record these events. Access the Recorded Webinars in the AASLH Resource Center after the event has passed. Registrants of this event receive complimentary access to the recordings in their Dashboard. 

Closed captioning is provided for these events.

Related Events

AASLH encourages participants to also attend Neurodiversity in Museums: Crafting Community for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder presented by the Texas Historical Commission on Wednesday, January 15, 2020 at 3:00 pm EST. Please note that registration for the January 15 webinar must be completed separately through the Texas Historical Commission and is not included in your AASLH registration.


Webinar: Increasing Accessibility and Inclusion at Community Organizations

Webinar Description

For individuals with developmental disabilities like autism spectrum disorders and their families, accessing community arts, civic, and cultural events can be challenging and at times, feel incredibly overwhelming. The uncertainty of new situations – will they feel overwhelmed, will their child have a melt-down and need to leave as soon as they arrive, will they be judged by other people – can be enough to deter an individual or family from seeking experiences that could be enjoyable and enriching for their child and for their family as a whole.

This webinar series is a two-part series. The first webinar will highlight an overview of neurodiversity, accessibility, and inclusion as well as a focus on autism spectrum disorders and respectfully communicate to and about this population. The second part of the series will include lessons learned and practical applications from Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage and recommendations for actionable first steps to increase accessibility and inclusion at your organization.

Details

DATES: PART I: January 7, 2020 | PART II: January 23, 2020

TIME: 3:00 - 4:00 pm EASTERN (Remember to adjust for your time zone)

COST: $30 AASLH and Texas Historical Commission Members / $50 Nonmembers (Texas Historical Commission members should contact THC for a discount code)

REGISTRATION: Registration includes both Part I and Part II of the AASLH Increasing Accessibility and Inclusion at Community Organizations webinar series.

REGISTER HERE

We will record these events. Access the Recorded Webinars in the AASLH Resource Center after the event has passed. Registrants of this event receive complimentary access to the recordings in their Dashboard. 

Closed captioning is provided for these events.

Related Events

AASLH encourages participants to also attend Neurodiversity in Museums: Crafting Community for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder presented by the Texas Historical Commission on Wednesday, January 15, 2020 at 3:00 pm EST. Please note that registration for the January 15 webinar must be completed separately through the Texas Historical Commission and is not included in your AASLH registration.


FSA Tips: Visitor Services Beyond the Front Desk

By Jeannette Rooney, Assistant Director, Local History Services, Indiana Historical Society

When we think of visitor services, we often imagine that it's all about greeting people at the front desk, but it goes way beyond that. In order to create a positive, welcoming, and enriching environment, visitor service standards should be at the core of our work and integrated into our daily operations. Everything – from our website to our exhibits, landscaping, restrooms, and even our parking lot – forms part of a visitor's experience of our site. The following tips are a starting point for considering the many aspects of visitor services.

10 Tips for Visitor Services

  1. Create written visitor services standards for your organization. Make sure all staff and volunteers are aware of your core visitor services standards, and post copies of them in volunteer and staff spaces. For further reading, see this excellent Museum Store Association blog post, and check out the National Archives Customer Service Plan.
  2. Everyone at your site is responsible for providing good visitor service, and all staff and volunteers should receive visitor service training, regardless of their level of public interaction. Training should include your visitor service standards, audience and visitor demographics, information about the organization, a site tour, and other pertinent information.
  3. People visit museums for different reasons, so don't take a one-size-fits-all approach to responding to visitors. In addition, some people may want more interaction with staff and volunteers, while others want to keep conversation to a minimum. Learn to read body language to interpret how a visitor wants to interact. For further reading, see "Understanding Museum Visitors’ Motivations and Learning" by Dr. John Falk.
  4. Every visitor should feel welcomed and comfortable in their interactions with your staff and volunteers, from initial greetings to in-depth tours. Being a welcoming space for all visitors means considering diversity and inclusion, multilingual options, learning styles, and much more. For further reading, start with this resource from AAM.
  5. Remove all barriers to accessibility at your museum or historic site. There are many resources available for making all aspects of the museum experience accessible. Two good places to start are the Americans with Disabilities Act and IMLS's Accessibility Resources for Museums and Libraries.
  6. Remember that a visitor's experience of your organization often begins online. Make sure your phone, email, physical location, hours, events, and other pertinent information are all readily available and up-to-date on your website and social media sites.
  7. Develop a checklist to be integrated into your daily operations. For your checklist, include: a walk of your exterior grounds to check for tidiness, accessibility, parking, landscaping, and signage; restocking necessary materials in your welcome area; a walk throughout your building to check for cleanliness, lighting, room temperatures, odors, seating, signs, exhibits, and labels; and a complete restroom cleaning and restock.
  8. Consider creating a journey map for your site that outlines a visitor's experience, from their first encounter with your organization (probably online or through word of mouth), through their entire experience at your site, to their return home. For more on Journey Mapping, see Engaging Places's "How to Evaluate the Visitor Experience with Journey Maps."
  9. Unfortunately, sometimes things don't go exactly right, so it is important to have a plan for dealing with sticky situations. Staff and volunteers should know who to go to in case of an unhappy visitor or an emergency. When you encounter an upset visitor, here are a few tips: don't take it personally; listen and show empathy; apologize (even if you aren't in the wrong); be polite and professional at all times; never argue or escalate the situation; and do everything within your power to solve the problem.
  10. One of the best ways to find out how you can best serve your audience is to ask them. Surveys, comment cards, sticky notes, observation, and other forms of evaluation can be excellent ways to help you improve services, ensure you are meeting your mission and objectives, and gauge impact. If you're just getting started with evaluation, check out this AASLH blog post, "Approaching Evaluation," and IMLS's Evaluation Resources.

What is the Field Service Alliance? The Field Services Alliance (FSA) is an organized group of individuals, offices, and agencies that provide training opportunities, guidance, technical services, and other forms of assistance to local historical societies, archives, libraries, and museums in their respective states or regions.


Do You Docent?

docents-2Colleague, former Education and Interpretation Committee member, and all around terrific history professional Michelle Moon recently posted on the use of the term docent at her museum, Peabody Essex Museum (PEM).

In her post, Michelle taught me a few things about this most-revered of terms in the museum world. First, I didn't realize the word was relatively new to the museum world. I just thought it has been around since ancient times. It's also a uniquely North American reference. "Docent" refers to university lecturers in Europe. (What I did know, by the way, was that it is not used universally in all museums.)

But no matter its origin, PEM has been grappling with the term. Michelle even noted they've "had some passionate discussions about this term." Here's a snippet of her commentary (read the full post here):

Over the past year, docents and education staff have been meeting, both as a large group and in small discussion groups, to talk about new ideas for volunteering in museum education. We’re planning on growing and enhancing our volunteer program with some new types of group experiences and modes of service. As part of that discussion, we’ve raised the question: Does it still make sense to call education volunteers “docents”?

I ask you the same question, "Does it still make sense to call education volunteers "docents" in history organizations?"


Staying Alive: Surviving the Online Review

According to an online customer intelligence tool, 92% of internet users read online reviews, and 89% of those users say that these reviews influence their decisions on everything from the products they use to the places they visit. Word of mouth is important, but it’s clear that the internet has changed the way that many of us hear and learn about places.


I recently came across a negative review from a visitor who was on one of my tours. At first I was stunned-I remembered that specific tour well and received great feedback in person by other visitors. Was it possible to have such extreme visitor experiences on one tour? The fact is, online reviews offer a sense of anonymity and allow users to express themselves freely, without any awkward, in-person interaction. Online, the visitor has the opportunity to reflect on their experience-on their terms.

It’s easy to have a negative review make you feel defensive or like you’ve lost your touch. However, just as our reviewers have taken the time to do, this offers us an opportunity to reflect. How can we do a better job at “reading” our audiences? How can we express our unique personalities without offending certain people? How do you reach everyone on a tour with broad interests while effectively telling the story?  Just as online users read reviews to tailor their experiences, we as museum professionals have a great opportunity to learn from our visitors and can do the same.

Do you encourage your staff to read online reviews, or have they ever come to you acknowledging that they’ve read them?  How did they respond to the feedback?  How did you respond?


The Visitor's Eye

One of the many duties and pleasures of a historian is to create timelines of things.  At Intel Corporation, a maker of microprocessors, or chips in Silicon Valley, we have produced timelines for computers, integrated circuits, key corporate innovations, personalities, products and sayings.

by 2008, the 1995 Pentium processor chip is many times larger than the chips on this processed silicon wafer. The smaller chips contain 407 million more transistors than the Pentium processor chip.

The most beautiful timeline the Intel Museum has published, in my opinion, is the timeline of Intel chips, microprocessors from 1971 to today.  Starting in 1971, the earliest microprocessor is an actual photo wherein the lines and functional areas resemble a city – the photomicrograph definitely looks like something from under a microscope – the real thing.  As time goes on, the functional areas become more and more delineated as the number of transistors grow with each generation.  The memory areas resemble irrigated fields and the functional areas resemble city blocks and parks.  As line widths (the electrical circuitry of a chip) shrink and keep shrinking, the microprocessors are photographed with colored lighting to pick up the patterns, and finally are colorized to capture the circuitry.

By 2006 the lines etched into the silicon chip are impossible to see with the naked eye at 65 nanometers.  By 2010, as interest in what chips “look like” becomes a feature in Intel advertising while lines on the chips themselves are only 32 nanometers wide.   Microprocessor images are now full color graphics, still accurately showing the chip layout of functional and storage areas and mapping out what they would look like under super magnification.

Lessons learned:  Visitors to the museum repeatedly pointed out to staff how fascinating the chip images are, and we realized we could combine museum visitors’ two favorite things in this timeline: beautiful and unusual visuals, and “did you know” information about each chip.

In addition, we sized it to be  folded and included as a freebie in the back of another brochure on how chips are made, and the folded size  (8.5 x 11”) makes it much more convenient for visitors to take individual posters with them. This poster remains the most popular souvenir of our company museum.

Jodelle French is the Corporate Historian for the Intel Corporation.


More Bang for Your Buck with Pre-Conference Workshops

Have you considered attending a pre-conference workshop at AASLH?

Pre-conference workshops are a great way for small museums to make the most of their travel and professional development dollars.  By adding the cost of one extra night’s lodging, as well as the registration fee for one or two half-day workshops--or for one full-day session--conference participants can greatly increase their benefit from the Annual Meeting.  It can be difficult at times to squeeze extra money for these workshops out of your budget, but  these sessions are cost-effective ways to get extra training .

Each year, AASLH’s Annual Meeting (October 3-6, 2012) includes a variety of pre-conference workshops.  These small group sessions, led by other practitioners, generally encourage interactivity, so the networking opportunities are great.  And the topics match current issues in many history organizations.

This year, for instance, you can learn how to improve your emergency preparedness skills, consider new ways to engage your community, or build your inquiry-based learning skills.

Two pre-conference workshops may be of particular interest to small museum workers: "Connecting Visitors to Your Site: Hiring Front-Line Staff and Volunteers" and "Connecting Visitors to Your Site: Training Front-Line Staff and Volunteers."  (Full disclosure--I'm chairperson  for the second session!)

Enthusiastic and effective staff  and volunteers can make the difference between an outstanding visit and a lackluster one.  Negative experiences can leave visitors feeling uninterested and bored.  During the morning session, you’ll learn how to develop an inspired workforce by improving your hiring skills.  During the afternoon session, we’ll show you how to create a training program that transforms your site’s front-line staff into outstanding educators and ambassadors.

Please note: In the preliminary program and on the registration sheet, "Connecting Visitors to Your Site: Training Front-Line Staff and Volunteers" is listed for Saturday.  In fact, this workshop will occur on the afternoon of Wednesday, October 3.

 

Rebecca Martin is a museum educator in Washington, DC.  Her small museum experience includes spending seven years at the Litchfield Historical Society in Litchfield, Connecticut, and serving on the board of the Connecticut League of History Organizations.  She studied in the history and museum studies programs at Grinnell College and the University of Delaware. She is passionate about developing ways to help all visitors learn from and enjoy their museum experiences