This Museum has been documenting the history of disability for over fifty years.
The traditional way to present history is through language—numerous books, movies, scholarly articles, and journals explore the history of people with disabilities in that way. Artifacts and exhibitions express information in a different way. A web exhibition is markedly different from an exhibition in a gallery as well. The material and sensory aspects of a museum visit are significant in the learning styles of many people. Some people need to touch, hear, see, and experience an object in person in order to fully understand it. Interacting with others and physically moving about the space also contributes to what is learned.
Some kinds of information about an object do not translate to the web; in other cases, hidden relationships are revealed more fully.
On the web, objects on the screen are flat. The information delivered tends to be flat, too, and everything becomes equivalent in size and significance. Information comes through the screen and the viewer has control over sound, font size, and speed of use. It is difficult to convey the experience of an artifact when, for example, a wheelchair, a Braille writer, and an iron lung appear to be the same size on the screen, as they do on this page.
The ease with which a visitor can move around a website means that the story is more fluid than in a gallery exhibition. So, too, are the learning points and how they relate to one another. Chronology moves in all directions as well. The curators share control with the web visitors, who put bits and bytes together in their own way.
In other words, this site presents encounters with history through the material record of the people who lived it. How the story unfolds depends on how you, the visitor, shuffle it.
Click on an image to see a larger version. Use either the navigation buttons that appear or your keyboard’s Left and Right arrow keys to view other images in the gallery. (Notes for users with assistive technologies.)