Reimagining Access: Inclusive Technology Design for Archives and Special Collections




How can designers work with people with disabilities to improve the user experience and accessibility of digital technologies?

This project brings together archive and library professionals, designers and design disability advocates and partners from SAA’s Accessibility and Disability Section, The Braille Institute, and Pasadena ADA. “Participatory design” (sometimes referred to as co-design) actively involves all stakeholders and constituents (e.g. community leaders, partners, archivists, citizens, end users) in research and creative activities. This ensures that the project designs with, not for, disabled communities, creating accessible, informative, and flexible experiences for every user.

This project was made possible by support from an Institute of Museum and Library Services [IMLS] National Leadership Grant.

Project Brief



Working in teams, students will design participatory research, generate innovative solution strategies and then craft prototypes in relevant technologies (for example: applications, website tools and mobile services, adaptive tools or AR/VR). These insights, guidelines, and examples will be shared with the library and archive community. 

For more information and resources, please visit our dedicated library resource page.

ArtCenter student, Akshay Agrawal, ideating during a recent accessibility design workshop led by Assistant Professor Josh Halstead, a disability advocate who will participate in the Reimagining Access symposium on February 11. Photo by Steven Butler.

About our Partners



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 and follow on Facebook and Twitter.

The Braille Institute: The Braille Institute is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to positively transform the lives of those with vision loss. Braille Institute serves more than 37,000 people through a variety of free programs, classes and services at centers and community outreach locations throughout Southern California – from Santa Barbara to San Diego counties!

MSU/UARC: MSU Usability/Accessibility Research and Consulting (UARC) is a worldwide leader in conducting research to improve the experiences of a diverse range of users on websites, mobile apps, software, and other technologies. UARC works with clients from business, government, academia, and community organizations, and collaborates with faculty and researchers from a variety of disciplines on grants. UARC specializes in accessibility compliance evaluations against international standards, accessibility policy and strategy, and user experience methodologies, including usability evaluations, expert reviews, user focus groups, information architecture redesigns, and surveys. 

Society of American Archivists Accessibility and Disability Section: The SAA Accessibility and Disability Section is committed to being an inclusive community for people with disabilities and allies to learn from each other, share resources, and promote accessibility and disability representation across the archival profession.  Founded in 2019, SAA Accessibility and Disability Section has accomplished a lot in a short time from being honored by an SAA Council Resolution by spearheading the Archivists at Home document, advocating for inclusive interviewing practices, and creating accessible education practices.

Braille Institute Institute of Museum and Library ServicesMSU Usability/Accessibility Research and ConsultingSociety of American Archivists Accessibility and Disability Section