The goal of The Butler Institute of American Art is to provide high quality experiences for visitors, docents, and employees of all ages and capabilities. This plan, therefore, outlines measures to ensure the best possible access to the Museum’s exhibits and programs, as well as public spaces, in a manner that promotes dignity, independence, integration and equal opportunity.

This plan is based on our commitment at The Butler Institute of American Art to human rights and living the fundamental principle that we are all born free and equal in dignity and rights. Our obligations under Title III of the ADA (prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability by public accommodations and requiring places of public accommodation and commercial facilities to be designed, constructed, as well as altered in compliance with the ADA accessibility standards) provide a framework to identify and eliminate barriers to accessibility so we can prevent and actively address discrimination against persons with disabilities.

This plan captures accessibility at the Butler today and our way forward: work we have done, work we are doing, and work we intend to do. We will continue to strive to make our programs as accessible as possible to everyone in the future.

Service Animals

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a service animal is defined as any breed of dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The Butler Institute of American Art follows the guidelines set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act, and therefore, we only allow dogs in our buildings as accepted service animals.

Physical Disabilities

Persons with physical disabilities may include those who require the use of a wheelchair or who are ambulatory but require some assistance through use of walkers, canes or frequent rest stops. 

Current provisions:

  • The Butler offers a ramp, as well as elevators, to access both floors. In order to more easily access Butler North, one can enter through the entrance on University Plaza, where there are only three steps to access the building, as opposed to two sets of stairs.
  • A designated handicapped parking space is provided. 
  • The Butler offers wheelchairs for use by visitors
  • There is an accessible restroom within the museum
  • There is a handicapped button on The Butler’s front doors which is accessible to wheelchair users

Plan for future provisions:

  • More chairs and benches will be added around the museum for rest stops

Blind or Visual Impairments

Current provisions:

  • Aira
  • Light levels are adequate on stairs and ramps to allow those with visual impairments to negotiate these areas more easily. 

Future provisions: 

  • Attention is paid to text sizes on labels and placement of labels to increase readability. 
  • For program situations where a staff person or volunteer is leading a tour and activities, opportunities will be offered for the person who is visually impaired to handle objects
  • The Butler’s brochures, maps, catalogs, and other materials, including digital, will be made available in large print or Braille versions.
  • An assessment of the need for audio guides will be undertaken. 
  • Purchase a 3D printer, along with a Braille embosser and Duxbury software for blind individuals, and other children and adults that can benefit from creating tactile art
  • Touch tours of a few works from our collection

Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Plan for future provisions:

  • Accommodation is made for interpreters to be at front of the group to allow the person who is deaf to see the exhibit and the sign language interpreter together
  • Butler staff are trained to speak clearly and directly, facing visitors to assist those who are lip-reading 
  • Neck loop headphones
  • ASL interpreting for special events, lectures, and art classes

Intellectual/Learning Disabilities

Current provisions:

  • For program situations, museum staff consults with the teacher or staff in charge of the group to plan and implement necessary modifications. 
  • Hands-on activities in programs assist those who have intellectual disabilities in understanding. 

Plan for future provisions:

  • Increased focus will be placed on incorporating various methods of interpretation into exhibits to appeal to various learning styles. 
  • Offer sensory bags, like a guide for autistic individuals.

Language Barriers

Current provisions:

  • Since Youngstown has a large Hispanic population, several docents at The Butler are fluent in Spanish for casual museum visitors, as well as school groups, to communicate effectively. For visitors who speak other languages, a patient attitude is very helpful in communicating with those who have difficulty speaking or understanding English. 

Plan for future provisions: 

  • The Museum will translate the Butler materials into Spanish. 

Other Disabilities

Other less common or less visible disabilities may also affect our visitors – for example, speech difficulties, mental illness, etc. As with the specific disabilities outlined above, staff sensitivity to the needs of all visitors and a willingness to make accommodations on a case-by-case basis ensures the best possible experience for all our visitors. 

Sensory Sunday

A monthly program for persons on the autism spectrum,
as well as other cognitive and other learning disabilities.

Future Goals

Goal: WCAG 2.1 AA Compliant
Timeline: Immediate, next 6 months

Goal: Internal videos produced moving forward will have captions
Timeline: Immediate, next 6 months

Goal: Standardizing exhibit labels for accessibility
Timeline: Immediate, next 6 months

Goal: Alt text for social media, as well as The Butler website
Timeline: Immediate, next 6 months

Goal: Staff, docent, and security training
Timeline: Immediate, next 6 months

Goal: Budget for accessibility requests
Timeline: Immediate, next 6 months

Goal: Hard of hearing visitors can take advantage of a portable amplifier to listen to films, lectures, and tours more clearly.
Timeline: Immediate, next 6 months

Goal: Create a disability advisory group
Timeline: Short term, next 1-2 years

Goal: Wayfinding (online and in person)
Timeline: Short term, next 1-2 years