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Kiosks to help disabled people enjoy museums

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Museum of American History is preparing a show with new ways to help people who don't see well, or who use wheelchairs or have other disabilities get more enjoyment while visiting one of this city's many exhibits.

Katherine Ott, curator of the show, stressed the importance of technology for the handicapped, and the show, celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act, will demonstrate new methods of presenting data.

The exhibit includes a telecaptioner for TV, a note-taker for the blind that uses the Braille alphabet, a CD for Internet access and kiosks with computer monitors.

The kiosks come in two heights — one for a person standing and one for someone in a wheelchair. Officials at the museum said the exhibit would open July 6 and remain on view for at least a year.

Officials at the museum said the exhibit would open July 6 and remain on view for at least a year.

The same technology can be adapted to reach potential customers who neither have a computer, know how to use one or even have the courage to try, Jacobs said. Three buttons on the kiosk help control what appears on the monitor or is read out on its loudspeaker. But a touch on the screen can help too.

It's called "universally disposable interface technology."

"There are 1.4 billion people in the world who've never had the opportunity to learn to read," he said. "There are 450 million over 65 who don't have the abilities they had when they were 21."

The exhibit traces the history of the movement for the disabled over the past 50 years. It includes such items as one of the earliest lightweight wheelchairs, signs and T-shirts used by ADA proponents at demonstrations urging passage of the law and the pen President Bush used when he signed it on July 26, 1990.