The Smithsonian Explores a “History of Disability in America” in New Web Exhibit

  • July 1, 2013
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On Saturday, June 29th, the National Museum of American History launched a new exhibit celebrating the history of disability in America. “EveryBody: An Artifact History of Disability in America” is available exclusively online but will be a permanent installation with more content to come. The exhibit aims to explore the history of people with disabilities through the groundbreaking use of an accessible and engaging format.

The website is designed with accessibility in mind. All images include alt text, which allows people with vision impairments to hear what is shown in a picture. Access keys are programmed to assist in getting around the site. Even the font was carefully chosen: it was developed specifically for low-vision readers.

The image is of the National Museum of American History's technology poster. The top third of the poster is dominated by four images.  An image shaped like a vertical rectangle shows a man using an old fashioned wheelchair. The middle column of images is headed by a black box with white text that reads "Why be normal?" Under that image is a woman who appears to be blind typing on a braille typewriter. The final column shows a black and white image of a man standing up to show a prosthetic arm. A poster produced by the National Museum of American History summarizes the content in the Technology section of the website.

Our Life Labs team is especially interested in the exhibit’s focus on technology for people with disabilities. As you click through the image galleries, you’re given a fascinating look at how far technology has come over the past century. A rudimentary hearing trumpet is replaced by a portable TTY . Photos of Civil War amputees are followed by images of prosthetics in the 1940s. As the exhibit demonstrates, we’ve come a long way from the days of primitive assistive technology. Every day we come closer to providing technology that will ensure that all people can have an equal opportunity to live a life without limits.

We are excited to see how the exhibit develops in the coming months. Hopefully even more images and analysis will be added that will deepen the impact of the exhibit.  Until then, be sure to check out the exhibit and learn more about the history of disability in America.


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