DEAI: Meeting ADA Standards Isn’t Enough, with Beth Ziebarth & Jan Majewski

What’s the A in DEAI, and why are the ADA guidelines not enough anymore? What’s intersectionality? What’s a “user expert”? If ADA isn’t our goal, what comes after? This is a must-listen episode, featuring two of the most important voices in museum accessibility today.
Jonathan Alger (Managing Partner, C&G Partners) is joined by Beth Ziebarth (Smithsonian head diversity officer and director of Access Smithsonian) and Jan Majewski (Director, Inclusive Cultural and Educational Projects, IHCD) to talk “DEAI: Meeting ADA Isn’t Enough”.

Along the way: when mentors become mentees, why that 26% actually might be higher, and some show notes that are a must-have all on their own.
Talking Points:
1. Individuals with disabilities are 26% of the population.
2. To be essential to all, museums and exhibitions must be accessible to all.
3. DEI + Accessibility = DEAI 
4. DEI is about the people. Accessibility is about their environment.
5. Intersectionality: Everyone has multiple identities.
6. Meeting the ADA standards isn’t enough for DEAI.
7. Visitors with disabilities want to see themselves reflected in the exhibitions.
8. Exhibition teams can tap individuals with disabilities as “user experts”.
Guest Bios:
Beth Ziebarth is the Smithsonian’s head diversity officer and director of Access Smithsonian. She is moving forward organizational diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion (DEAI) goals by building a community of practice, serving as a lead advisor and participant in the implementation of institutional strategic initiatives and developing opportunities to bring DEAI resources into the Institution. Ziebarth also develops and implements accessibility policy and guidelines for the Institution, ensuring that Smithsonian visitors equitably experience inclusive physical and digital environments. In her more than 30 years at the Smithsonian, Ziebarth has served as a volunteer, as a social science analyst in the Institutional Studies Office, as leader of Access Smithsonian, and, more recently, as the interim head diversity officer. She has translated her personal interest in accessibility and disability into a broader professional perspective and responsibility for DEAI initiatives for visitors and staff. Ziebarth is board vice president and programs committee chair of Nature Forward, a nonprofit organization that inspires residents in the Washington, D.C., region to appreciate their natural environment through outdoor experiences and education. Ziebarth received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Marquette University in Milwaukee.
Jan Majewski, Director, Inclusive Cultural and Educational Projects of IHCD, joined the Institute for Human Centered Design (IHCD) to enrich her love for museums and her advocacy for making them more inclusive. Brainstorming and problem solving with museum professionals across the globe, she collaborates with clients to ensure their museums, exhibitions, programs, and policies provide people on the spectrum of ability and age, from all cultures, an equal opportunity for engagement and participation. Learning deeply from user/experts who have lived experience with disabilities, Jan helps share their expertise in museums through user testing, co-design, and training. The American Alliance of Museums awarded Jan the 2021 individual award for Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion. Before joining IHCD, Jan was an Accessibility Specialist in the Disability Rights Section of the United States Department of Justice, where she worked on issues of museum accessibility, accessible technology, cooperation between the disability and business communities, and ADA technical assistance. Jan began her career in museums at the Smithsonian Institution. Coming from a classroom background, teaching students who were deaf, she began as the Coordinator for Special Education in the Institution’s then Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. She later became the Office’s Director of Outreach Programs and then founded the Institution-wide Accessibility Program where she partnered with all of the museums and the National Zoo to increase accessibility throughout the Institution. Jan led the teams that wrote the first comprehensive set of U.S. museum exhibition universal design guidelines, the Smithsonian Guidelines for Accessible Exhibition Design, and the museum training manual, Part of Your General Public Is Disabled.


Making the Museum is hosted (podcast) and written (newsletter) by Jonathan Alger. 
This podcast is a project of C&G Partners | Design for Culture. Learn about the firm's creative work at:

Show Links:
Inclusive Exhibition Design
National Association of Museum Exhibition, Exhibition: A Journal of Exhibition Theory and Practice for Museum Professionals, Fall 2015 issue: Creating an Inclusive Experience: Exhibitions and Universal Design 
Inclusive Digital Interactives Design 
Collaborative project by Access Smithsonian, IHCD, and MuseWeb: Inclusive Digital Interactives: Best Practices + Research 
ADA Standards for Accessible Design
Smithsonian Guidelines for Accessible Exhibition Design
IHCD Webcasts on Museum Exhibition Design 
IHCD webcast, All Museums for All People: 

IHCD webcast, Museum Prototype Testing and Co-Design in Time of Covid: 

Universal Design for Learning 
Universal Design for Learning Guidelines from CAST: 

Levent, Nina and Pascual-Leone, Alvaro. The Multisensory Museum: Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives on Touch, Sound, Smell, Memory, and Space. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014. 
Examples of Museum Pre-visit Information, Particularly for People with Certain Brain-based Disabilities

Accessibility and Historic Preservation
NPS Preservation Brief 32: Making Historic Properties Accessible
Access New England, New England ADA Center, Adaptive Environments (now IHCD)
Show Contact:

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DEAI: Meeting ADA Standards Isn’t Enough, with Beth Ziebarth & Jan Majewski
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