December 16, 2020
As the pandemic highlights our dependency on access to information through technology, the need to design for people with disabilities has become more important than ever. ArtCenter College of Design is laser focused on this mission after securing a prestigious National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) in Washington, DC. This fall, ArtCenter kicked off the grant-funded project aimed to improve the experience of individuals with disabilities using archive and special collections through a human design-centered approach to technology. The $198,495 award to the College is part of a multi-million-dollar national investment made by IMLS, the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums.
ArtCenter’s winning project, Reimagining Access: Inclusive Technology Design for Archives and Special Collections , is a joint undertaking between the ArtCenter Library and the Interaction Design Department. Robert Dirig, director, Archives and Special Collections, is the project director, and Maggie Hendrie, chair of ArtCenter’s Interaction Design and Graduate Media Design Practices programs, is the co-principal investigator.
The panel of IMLS grant decision-makers agreed ArtCenter’s Reimagining Access project addressing the technology needs of persons with disabilities is a timely endeavor.
“The limitations and frustrations with technology experienced by so many individuals during quarantine are emblematic of what persons with disabilities have faced for a long time,” said Maggie Hendrie. “This unique time in our history has provided incredible learning opportunities for technology designers and with this grant, we’ll be able to apply this new knowledge to designing for improved access to libraries and archives.”
"This project is important to our continuing work in the Archives to provide access to ArtCenter's 90-year history and many contributions to the world of art and design," said Dirig. "I'm eager to help develop more inclusive experiences for everyone to explore our archives, and archives in general."
“This federal funded support from IMLS is vital to help us realize our vision of creating inclusive learning environments,” said Mario A. Ascencio, College Librarian and managing director of the ArtCenter Library. “As we recognize the important 30-year legacy of the Americans with Disabilities Act throughout the year, this grant reinforces our commitment along with colleges and universities nationwide to become more inclusive.”
"As pillars of our communities, libraries and museums bring people together by providing important programs, services and collections. These institutions are trusted spaces where people can learn, explore and grow,” said IMLS Director Crosby Kemper. “IMLS is proud to support their initiatives through our grants as they educate and enhance their communities."
Reimagining Access proposes to scale and expand national guidelines for archives and special collections in fostering access for people with disabilities. The project team will add new specific guidelines that address technology design. Reimagining Access is a collaboration with leaders from the Society of American Archivists Accessibility and Disability Section and the Braille Institute.
The Reimagining Access project will launch with a symposium, planned for February 11 and 12 2021, featuring experts and stakeholders to help refine the scope of work. The grant team will then enter a core development phase to identify and develop emerging best practices. Utilizing studio-based working groups of technology design faculty and students collaborating with archival professionals and disability experts, the team will develop technology prototypes that address access challenges. Results will include an expanded set of Guidelines for Accessible Archives for People with Disabilities, and additional documentation, such as a website.
For more information about the symposium, please contact Christine Hanson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About ArtCenter Library: The Library actively supports the teaching and research mission of ArtCenter College of Design. It serves as the College’s main collaborative learning environment, where students and faculty from various departments gather to explore, discover and create. It is also open to alumni and external researchers. The Library is a specialized visual arts library designed for aspiring artists and designers. It includes more than 93,000 books; 420 periodical subscriptions; 11,000 feature films, documentaries, and animation clips; a growing zine collection; and numerous online research databases. In addition, the Library works with faculty members to acquire resources to enhance their teaching. Outside the classroom and studio, the Library is pivotal in providing students with informal learning spaces. Students have access to their Liaison Librarians who provide research assistance on a walk-in basis and by appointment. In addition, Liaison Librarians support faculty by providing library instruction and workshops to help students develop research and information literacy skills. The Library also includes the ArtCenter Archives , a repository for official and unofficial records that document ArtCenter’s history. The Archives contain historical images and material of enduring value generated by faculty, academic departments, administrative offices, students and campus organizations.
About ArtCenter College of Design: Founded in 1930 and located in Pasadena, California, ArtCenter College of Design is a global leader in art and design education. ArtCenter offers 11 undergraduate and seven graduate degrees in a wide variety of industrial design disciplines as well as visual and applied arts. In addition to its top-ranked academic programs, the College also serves members of the Greater Los Angeles region through a highly regarded series of year-round educational programs for all ages and levels of experience. Renowned for both its ties to industry and its social impact initiatives, ArtCenter is the first design school to receive the United Nations’ Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) status. Throughout the College’s long and storied history, ArtCenter alumni have had a profound impact on popular culture, the way we live and important issues in our society.
About IMLS: The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's libraries and museums. The IMLS advances, supports and empowers America’s museums, libraries and related organizations through grantmaking, research and policy development. The IMLS vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow on Facebook and Twitter.
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