BENTONVILLE — Museums are getting creative to make art more accessible to the disabled. “It’s also part of a growing trend right now of the arts in general to make art more accessible and available to all populations, regardless of geography, income, race, ethnicity and also disabilities,” said Beth Bienvenu, director of accessibility with the National Endowment for the Arts.
In 2014, 12.3 million adults had serious difficulty seeing, including 1.6 million adults who were blind, according to a report on Americans with disabilities published by the U.S. Census Bureau in November 2018.
Some 17.1 million adults experienced serious hearing difficulty, including 3.4 million who were deaf, according to the report. About 4.2 million people had both vision and hearing difficulties.
Kim Crowell, senior museum educator and accessibility coordinator with Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, said the efforts the museum makes toward inclusion for the disabled are in keeping with its mission to welcome all.
“I think the arts community has always been sensitive to the need to make art available to all people for a long time,” Bienvenu said. “The Arts Endowment has had initiatives to make the arts available to underserved communities since the 1970s.”
Crystal Bridges features Multisensory Saturdays quarterly to help visitors with all levels of sight explore the museum’s artwork, Crowell said.
“We have four different touch tables with different activities or scents or sounds or touchable maps related to four works of art in our collection,” she said.