UCD Toolkit: Plain Language for Museum Content

In spring 2021, I designed and co-created the working prototype, UCD Toolkit: Universal Content Design for Museums and Historic Sites, as part of my graduate student collaboration with the NYU Ability Project and a group of museum and accessibility experts. The UCD Toolkit is a digital guidebook describing three critical aspects of content accessibility: plain language and readability, audio descriptions, and translations.

Exhibit content can be inaccessible to visitors with disabilities, visitors who do not speak the language of the content, or visitors who have low (or even average) literacy skills. The UCD Toolkit is designed to help museums and historic sites create and provide visitors with different options to access their exhibit content. This helps make exhibits more accessible, inclusive, and welcoming.

The UCD Toolkit consolidates useful information into a modular, flexible format and highlights efficient and inexpensive workflow options . The goal is to help cultural sites of varying size and resources to expand and enhance their accessible content options and to to normalize accessible content design practices.

In addition to creating the content of the landing page and introduction of the UCD Toolkit, I created the guide on Plain Language and Readability.

After researching best practices and drafting initial documentation, I worked with museum staff at varying sites to gather feedback and iterate on the content and format of the guide.

In addition, I revised exhibit content for a new exhibit at Fort Ticonderoga to meet plain language guidelines. The material was rewritten from a college-level reading level to a 5th-grade reading level. This example, along with annotations, was integrated into the Plain Language and Readability Guide. This annotated example and the guide have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the museum staff and experts involved in this project; Fort Ticonderoga immediately integrated the suggested revisions and workflow recommendations into their editorial process. 

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