Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

Celebrating Black History Month at The Museum of African American History and Culture

by Jaime Rodriguez, RDPFS Intern

February is Black History Month, which is a time for people across the U.S. to learn about and reflect on the histories and achievements of African Americans. And what better way to learn about and celebrate Black history than visiting The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington DC. The museum opened in September 2016 and remains the only national museum dedicated to the documentation of the lives, histories, and cultures of the peoples of the African Diaspora. Museum visitors who have vision loss may be disappointed to discover that the museum itself does not have recorded, audio-described exhibits or tactile tours. However, that doesn’t mean that the museum is inaccessible. They provide braille or raised image maps that you can ask for at the customer service desk. Visitors who are blind or have low vision may also request a docent or visitor services staff member to be their sighted guide, offering verbal descriptions of the exhibits. The one major caveat to the sighted guides is that the museum only guarantees access to them for up to 45 minutes and visitors can only utilize them in one gallery or floor of their choosing. As a result, the museum recommends that visitors with low or no vision download the Aira Access mobile information and description service, funded by the Smithsonian Museum, which will connect the visitor to an agent who can help describe the museum’s exhibits. If you’re unable to travel to Washington DC to attend the NMAAHC and you still want to learn about Black History, you may browse the NMAAHC’s Searchable Museum collection online. For more information about the museum, check out The National Museum of African American History and Culture website. For more information about the Aira Access app, check out the Aira Access website or download this Aira guide. For more facts about the timeline and history of Black History Month, read the History.Com article: Black History Facts.