July 08, 2004

Smithsonian Project on Disability

The Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History is preparing an exhibit on the history of polio. The approach involves developing a computer game that simulates mobility issues that have occurred across time as described in the invitation to participate below.


I am an intern at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History and am working with curator Katherine Ott on an upcoming exhibit on the history of polio. In order to illustrate how architectural barriers and access have changed over time, we are developing an activity for the website, based upon real life scenarios. We intend to focus upon mobility situations about people using wheelchairs (manual, power, or scooters), wearing braces, using crutches-the basic polio-related impairments-at different times in the 20th century.

We'd appreciate hearing true stories about navigation and access problems and how they were resolved (or not). We are looking for anecdotes about such things as grocery shopping, school attendance, getting to work, driving a car, taking the subway or a plane, dating, other life experiences. Please include the year (or decade), describe the situation, options you had, the choice you made, and as much of the reasoning process behind your choice as you can remember, and explain the consequences.

Since this will be a history-based educational activity, childhood memories are just as important as more recent, post-ADA events as are events related to court cases and legislation. For example, it is 1975 and there is no curb cut so you try to jump the curb and get a stress fracture in the wheelchair frame, or you tumble and are hospitalized for eight weeks.

The educational goal of the game is to teach about the history of environmental barriers through the experiences of people with mobility disabilities.

If you would like to participate in this project, please send me your story before July 30 at swinneym@si.edu. In addition, if you have [computer] game writing experience and would like to help with developing the activity, let me know that, too.

Thank you,
Monica Swinney

Posted by rollingrains at July 8, 2004 04:34 AM | TrackBack