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Milwaukee Museum Adds Tactile Components to Exhibits for People with Visual Disabilities

Some patrons will now be able to use their hands to experience exhibits at the Milwaukee Public Museum, via braille and 'touch bags.' Inside the bags are 3-D objects or replicas of things that are on exhibit.

Spokesperson Dawn Koceja says people will be able to check out the bags at the ticket window.

"They are accompanied by a braille card that has the braille explanation of the object, or the objects. Even if it’s a family or a person here by themselves, they can have access to these touch bags and take them into the exhibit and experience the things in the exhibit, by touch,” Koceja says.

The MPM and ABLE (Audio and Braille Literacy Enhancement) have worked together to make the museum more accessible to people without sight. Tuesday evening, the two will roll-out the bags, as the groups celebrate ABLE's 50th anniversary.

Executive Director Cheryl Orgas says museums could be places that are completely inaccessible for people who are blind.

"Museums are a perfect example of look, don't touch. The MPM really gets it. It's growing into a museum, with ABLE's help, where there are going to be more and more touch items so that we can have, as blind people, a fuller experience of the museum." Orgas says.

ABLE has helped the museum integrate braille alongside many exhibits, for patrons who can’t see exhibits and history.

"You know, blind and visually-impaired people want to have the full experience of the world, as do sighted people," Orgas says.

The part of the museum that will have the hands-on component is the Crossroads exhibit – the section exploring thousands of years of ancient history.