Accessible Design and App Design
The goal of this project was to discover design solutions for people with disabilities for the Ball State University David Owsley Museum of Art (DOMA).
I decided to concentrate on people with mobility impairments, and find solutions for DOMA’s online parking and accessible resources, wayfinding to the museum, outdoor accessible entrances, elevator locations, visibility of artworks, and legibility of labels.
The solutions I pitched to DOMA were an interactive guided app, wayfinding and signage, and redesigned online resources and maps.
I started this project with a heavy amount of research about people with disabilities and about accessible design. My research started by focusing on people with mobility impairments and common needs this disability entails. When meeting with Kielan, she mentioned how people with disabilities usually do a lot of planning before going somewhere new. I visited DOMA’s website and viewed the resources DOMA currently has for accessibility including their map and visitor parking references. I continued my research by exploring routes traveling to the museum and navigating inside the museum that could be confusing and visitors may become lost. I reached out to employees at DOMA asking them what questions visitors most commonly have while experiencing the museum. And finally, I experienced DOMA from the perspective of a person in a wheelchair. It is also difficult to view the artwork fully and the large print guides are heavy and hard to lift out of the case.
App Design Research
While researching museum app design, I reached out to Dan Sullivan, who is Head of Growth and Partnerships at Cuseum. I was able to speak with him over the phone about Cuseum’s features that are specific to catering towards people with disabilities. I also researched other museum apps such as the MET and SFMOMA, honing in on their features such as guided tours, donating, and rewards system.
I decided to design an app for DOMA that allows users to customize and save their settings within the app such as increasing text size, inverting colors, and specifically choosing a disability they have to improve their guided experience through DOMA. Easy to press buttons could be placed near pieces of art, and when pressed additional information within the app about that piece of art or information about the DOMA’s donors and history of the fine arts building will appear on the user’s devices. The screen display designed in the North entrance draws attention to the accessible options DOMA provides to all of its visitors.
For the East and North entrances, my solution is to include clear accessible entrance signage on the column facing outwards paths leading to DOMA. These signs are large enough for visitors to read them from significant distances and can be seen from various perspectives.
Additional signage would be located above the elevators, perpendicular to the wall so visitors traveling down the hall can easily view the sign.
Areas that I defined as needing navigational improvement were the elevators within the museum and outdoor North and East entrances. The elevators are confusing to visitors because of the specific floors they lead to. The North and East entrances are accessible, however they are not as clearly labeled as they could be. Some of the issues that I discovered when trying to view the artwork for someone who is a wheelchair user, is that it is difficult to read some of the labels because of the perspective and the glare on the labels.
For Ball State University’s visitor parking map, I designed a map more specific to DOMA, that focuses on the museum and nearby parking options, eliminating and simplifying all other unnecessary information.
The 2nd floor map of DOMA shows an entrance only by way of stairs, which becomes problematic for wheelchair users. DOMA displays Ball State University’s general visitor parking map which can be confusing with the excessive details for visitors who are specifically interested in DOMA.