Design Access

Photograph of design objects on exhibition in Access+Ability on view through September 3. For information about the exhibition and programming at the museum related to accessible design scroll

Accessibility and inclusion at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Cooper Hewitt is committed to broadening its audiences and ensuring the museum is welcoming to all. Learn how we are using our exhibitions, campus, and museum resources to raise awareness of accessible design innovation, inspire dialogue, and leverage Cooper Hewitt’s role as platform for design to promote problem-solving in support of inclusivity.

Accessibility Articles + Resources

Robust online resources share stories of designers and disability service organizations celebrating inclusivity. Diverse perspectives highlighted in videos and articles illustrate the impact of design in addressing the barriers many people with disabilities experience worldwide.

Inclusive Design at Cooper Hewitt

Cooper Hewitt collaborates with inclusive designers, industry experts, and members of the disability community to exhibitions, programs and museum experiences are welcoming to all.

Image Description Guidelines

In collaboration with Prime Access Consulting, Anna Chiaretta Lavatelli, Freer|Sackler and Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Guidelines for Image Description are intended for museum staff from all departments to author image descriptions for digital content.

Smithsonian Guidelines for Accessible Exhibition Design

Published initially in 1996, the Smithsonian’s Guidelines for Accessible Exhibition Design remain one of the only and most comprehensive guides for accessible gallery installations.

Education Programs

Regularly scheduled educational opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

Cooper Hewitt Accessibility Services

Cooper Hewitt offers a variety of access services so that everyone may enjoy the museum to the fullest extent possible, including large print materials, audio description, and design objects to touch and explore.

Designing a more accessible world

In a blog post for Agenda, an online publication of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, the Director of Cooper Hewitt discusses the global importance of inclusive design.

The Power of Inclusive Design

In an op-ed for The Art Newspaper, Cooper Hewitt Director Caroline Baumann says the adoption of inclusive design principles will further accessibility and equal opportunity for all.

National High School Design Competition: All Access

The 2018 National High School Design Competition: All Access was inspired by the exhibition Access + Ability and challenged high school students around the country to make the everyday—place, process, or object—accessible for all.


Accessibility initiatives are made possible by the generous support of Carnegie Corporation of New York. Additional support is provided by the Smithsonian Accessibility Innovation Fund.