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Designing technologies for museums: accessibility and participation issues

Helena Garcia Carrizosa (The Open University, Heerlen, The Netherlands)
Kieron Sheehy (Faculty of Education and Language Studies, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK)
Jonathan Rix (The Open University, Heerlen, The Netherlands, and Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences, Lillehammer, Norway)
Jane Seale (Faculty of Education and Language Studies, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK)
Simon Hayhoe (Bath University, Bath, UK)

Journal of Enabling Technologies

ISSN: 2398-6263

Article publication date: 17 April 2020

Issue publication date: 4 May 2020




This paper aims to report the findings of a systematized literature review focusing on participatory research and accessibly in the context of assistive technologies, developed for use within museums by people with sensory impairments or a learning disability. The extent and nature of participatory research that occurs within the creation of technologies to facilitate accessible museum experiences is uncertain, and this is therefore a focus of this paper.


This paper is a systematized literature review and subsequent thematic analysis.


A screening of 294 research papers produced 8 papers for analysis in detail. A thematic analysis identified that the concept of accessibly has nuanced meanings, underpinned by social values; the attractiveness of a technology is important in supporting real-life usability; and that the conceptualization of participation should extend beyond the end users.

Social implications

The argument is made that increasing the participation of people with sensory impairments and learning disabilities in the research process will benefit the design of technologies that facilitate accessibility for these groups.


An original notion of participation has emerged from this review. It includes the participation and goals of disabled people but has expanded the concept to encompass museum personnel and indeed the physical and social spaces of the museums and heritage sites themselves. This constructs a broad of participation, with different aspects being reflected across the review’s research papers.



Garcia Carrizosa, H., Sheehy, K., Rix, J., Seale, J. and Hayhoe, S. (2020), "Designing technologies for museums: accessibility and participation issues", Journal of Enabling Technologies, Vol. 14 No. 1, pp. 31-39.



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