WASHINGTON The blind, deaf and some other disabled people who’ve headed to the new National Museum of Crime and Punishment didn’t exactly get a welcome mat -- in fact they haven’t had full access to a number of the exhibits, the Justice Department revealed Tuesday.
In a settlement with the department, the museum agreed to address allegations that some programs, exhibits and facilities were not accessible to the disabled, allegedly in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires that those with physical handicaps are afforded the same enjoyment of the experience as other Americans.
The museum offers a hot new venue for tourists to visit in the nation’s capital, tracing the history of crime, law enforcement since medieval times, forensic science and crime scene investigations -- as in the popular CSI TV shows.
The three-story Crime Museum, featuring 28,000 square feet of gallery space, includes permanent exhibits depicting a CSI lab, a simulated FBI shooting range, a simulated high-speed police chase and a galley of notorious criminals, including a stage set for America’s Most Wanted.
Under the settlement, the museum must provide:
--Blind or vision-impaired visitors with staff assistance or pre-recorded audio descriptions of program and exhibit informations.
--Printed copies of program information to those who are deaf or hard of hearing.
--Museum tours that are described via audio and offer tactile experiences for the vision-impaired.
--Printed materials, floor plans and maps in various formats, including Braille.
--Design adjustments to remove physical barriers, such as protruding objects or inaccessible routes, including restroom barriers.
Vanita Gupta, the acting chief of the department’s Civil Rights Division, said the settlement ensures “people with disabilites will be able to enjoy the fascinating elements of the history of crime and law enforcement together with their friends and family just like other patrons.”