The Museum of Westward Expansion that is underneath the Gateway Arch was totally redone as part of the park’s renovation. Even though the subject matter did not change, there were no new artifacts to add to the collection and the location was still the same, it was a striking example of how much museums have improved in the last few decades. The museum has become a sensory experience for everyone, not just those able to read.

All throughout the museum, there are aids to make the visit interactive and tactile. An “orientation hub” provides a scale model so that people can get their bearings and blind visitors can feel the size and shape of the layout. (For example, to help illustrate the massiveness of the Arch, a school bus is scaled next to it.) Exhibits have models where air puffs come out to allow the visually impaired to follow along with what is being described. Sound recordings bring interviews and displays to life. Braille and large print text flyers are provided in each area. Music, sounds of the river and other audio enhancements fill the area. A scale model of a boat allows visitors to climb in it and have their picture taken as if on Lewis and Clark’s journey.

Think of what you can do to make your office space or organization’s environment into a sensory experience. Can you add audio from your leadership instead of just a 2D photo or bring your strategic plan to life by having the leader describe in on a video clip that shows in your lobby? Maybe you could add dimensional visuals that orient your visitors to the whole campus or complex. Or perhaps could you develop a recording of sounds that are intentional for your space instead of generic.

Go beyond accommodation and embrace sensory enhancements that bring your organization to life for everyone.

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