Storykiosk for Special Needs Audiences
A few years ago I was very interested to hear from staff at Louisiana Children’s Museum that they were finding that our Storykiosk installation was very popular on their sensory-friendly evenings. There was something about it — maybe talking into the computer with someone — that seemed both interesting and rewarding in a way that encouraged communication.
We had spent a lot of time looking for ways of encouarging parent/child collaboration — providing verbal and text cues to parents that they could record together with their child, for example. And we focused on intriguing story-starter topics that included physical props, such as: “Make a Puppet Show with Your Child”. The emphasis was on creating an environment that celebrates communication in whatever form it takes — waving a puppet around the screen, making bird sounds — the goal is mainly to have fun together.
I’m delighted now to be working now with colleague and friend Lisa Jo Rudy to help make Storykiosk more engaging and accessible for visitors on the autism spectrum and their families. Lisa points out that many of the adaptations and accommodations that work well for people with autism are ALSO helpful for people with a range of developmental differences such as ADHD, learning disabilities, and anxiety disorders.
Lisa is the creator of the autisminthemuseum.org website and consults and provides autism-related training to museum professionals. A writer with extensive museum experience, she has presented on inclusion at ASTC and written on autism and inclusion for Museum News. Her book, Get Out, Explore, and Have Fun (Jessica Kingsley Press), is a guide for helping parents to get out and about in the community with a child on the autism spectrum. Lisa has been the Autism Expert for Verywell Health and About.com since 2006, and is the parent of a young adult on the autism spectrum.
Lisa has already made several recommendations to make Storykiosk more accessible, including “sentence frame” scripts, signage suggestions, and environmental adaptations. Our goal is to add this layer of programming and consulting as an option for installations reaching out more widely to audience members on the autism spectrum and their families. If you’re interested, please get in touch with us as we shape this new exhibit layer. And if you’ll be at the ACM Interactivity conference in Denver or AAM in New Orleans, please stop by our booth…