How to avoid additional costs for inclusion

I have been regularly involved with cost issues for over 13 years and have implemented many projects. Most of the consulting and design projects have been for museums, but also in the wider education sector or in architecture and product development. In recent years, the implementation of inclusive goals has gained momentum. As a rule, it succeeds best where diversity is demanded as a matter of course by one decision-maker person in the company or institution with commitment. The reaction of the uninvolved is quite openly or in thought almost always “ well, for these few people we should spend so much money? Who pays the costs for inclusion?“.

I have an answer for that. It’s below, but you have to read the few lines in between to interpret it. I thought about it for a long time and finally found the clue to the problem within the question itself. After all, inclusion is not actually in question because of the cost, but, and this is my analysis, because it is not taken for granted. By „taken for granted,“ I mean something like laying power lines when you build a house. You use it to make sure the building is accessible, in some sense barrier-free, through lighting – especially if you’re going to use it at night. And you use it to operate your assistive devices, such as washing machines and heating, for people whose own energy is not sufficient for all tasks. So without electricity, the people who use the building would be very handicapped.

For the following reasons, among others, Germany is probably also in last place in the EU comparison when it comes to the implementation of the specifications by the EU and the UN. We usually don’t live with our parents or grandparents in the same house and experience every day how exhausting it is to get old once our legs and eyes don’t work anymore. We did not go to the same class with the (10%!) children who were and are sent to „special“ schools simply because of physical characteristics. That’s why we don’t know them and aren’t friends with them. That is why we have not learned to consider that they also are part of us and that it must be indisputable that all people can live as self-determined and cohabited as possible. We have not learned this. We have to make up for it, and we have a lot of catching up to do.

Now to the answer promised above, where does the money come from?
You will find it in the total budget (and not even hidden). Here’s how: When you cost a project, you require all service providers and internal project participants to „think of the power lines for your house up front.“ You will rightly expect this of all professionals in every trade involved in building a house. It’s unthinkable to do otherwise.
Expect it just as naturally that your partners think inclusively and with everyone in mind; that they already set the course in the conception and – if necessary with the involvement of consultants and experts – revise the non-inclusive ideas, because insufficient, once again to find better solutions.
If your calculation exceeds the budget as a result, the budget is set too low or elaborate creative solutions together to make changes to material, scope, size, execution, duration, etc., in order to achieve your goal.
That’s the way it’s always been. In the past, however, it was usually because you didn’t take various things into account (see above). You will all agree that human rights are non-negotiable, but maybe other things are.

And it works! With fantastic and unique results that inspire project participants and users. I know, because I have accompanied some teams in their work to the goal with team meetings, workshops and conception as well as consulting.

More visitors to the museum

It is absolutely true that art, culture and education are topics that do not excite or interest all people equally. Some are hard to reach – despite educational missions, outreach and outbounding. But if we look at those we can interest and perhaps even inspire, why do so many never or rarely come to our buildings? We are talking about over a third (!) of society here – what prevents these people from going to the museum?

In fact, questioning the following points will help here:

Easy and understandable way to the museum for everyone.
Very, very clear optical and tactile wayfinding
Detailed advance information about contents and accessibility
Easy, pleasant, non-academic language
Accessible exhibits or optional tactile models/replicas and explanations in large print and Braille,
No steps, stairs, or other barriers for the elderly and people on wheels
Make all information available through at least two channels, namely never exclusively audio guide or exclusively text information
These aspects, and a little more, are important to consider as a museum or exhibition hall. In my work with such institutions, we have come up with wonderful solutions that don’t break budgets but do break down barriers for a third of society.

Das akustische Informations- und Leitsystem TellDing im Leipziger Grassi-Museum

TellDing im Grassimuseum

An mehreren Orten und Stationen innerhalb des Museumsgebäudes und der Ausstellung wird man nun akustisch informiert, was man vor sich hat oder wo und wie man weiter kommt. Das System TellDing reagiert dabei abhängig von Sprache oder Informationsbedarf der Besuchenden mit unterschiedlichen Inhalten. Ohne Handy oder App, ohne Audioguide zum Mitnehmen. Man trägt einfach ein Lanyard mit elektronischer Eintrittskarte (TellDing-Avatar) um den Hals. Das TellDing gibt dann am Aufzug oder am Exponat die passenden Informationen aus oder leitet auch blinde Besucher:innen zu sich.

Das Erklärvideo zeigt den TellDing Avatar
Das Erklärvideo im Museum zeigt den TellDing Avatar

Kinder bekommen andere oder anderes aufbereitete Inhalte als erwachsene, fremdsprachige, blinde oder gehbehinderte Besuchende. Auch der Abstand, ab dem die Audionachricht ausgegeben wird kann sich je nach Nutzer:in unterscheiden. Der Aufzug sollte sich bei einer blinden Besucherin von Weitem melden, während das Exponat erst in unmittelbarer Nähe die Beschreibung ausgibt.

Weitere Informationen finden Sie auf der WebSite

Die Installation beinhaltet das Gerät und einen kleinen Lautsprecher
Die Installation beinhaltet das Gerät und einen kleinen Lautsprecher

Speaker at the Baukulturkongress 2022 - Building Education

Today’s children are tomorrow’s planners, decision-makers and clients. I explain on the podium how to make inclusive thinking a topic in school, for example, via the topic of inclusive planning and building culture. In the audience are architects, teachers, educators. By raising awareness of open and broader thinking at an early age, they can transfer knowledge they have gained themselves to other areas of life and apply it later in their careers.

November 17/18, 2022
Hans Sachs House Gelsenkirchen

Finally a standardized and tactilely and visually understandable symbol for escape routes and emergency exits for tactile plans.

No question, the challenge is immense and so is the responsibility. An internationally understandable symbol was sought that speaks for itself tactilely and also visually. Orientation plans are a shared aid for both sighted and blind people. Particularly in an emergency, information must be grasped quickly. Until now, a sign has been missing from industrial standards and current draft standards. Thus, we have developed a new sign in recent weeks and submitted it to the commission.


Symbol für Fluchtweg Notausgang taktile Pläne
The possible new international optical and tactile symbol for tactile orientation plans in buildings.

It plays a significant role for the speed if symbols are already learned and do not have to be reinterpreted. The symbol for the emergency exit and escape route must indicate a clear direction and it must be possible to distinguish it from the ordinary exit. Even illiterate people and people speaking foreign languages should have no difficulty with this.

Thus, we have used the X for “ exit“, „out“, „away“ as the lowest common denominator, and the large directional arrow on green, which is also known from the visual world. In the application in the plan, the symbol is placed rotated in the direction of escape. The white elements are tactile and the green area is to be printed visually only. The minimum height is 12 mm (green frame)!

One of the most inclusive museums in Germany is being planned

Since the beginning of 2022, I have been consulting on the reconstruction and the conception and implementation of the new permanent exhibition with neumann schneider Ausstellungsarchitekten for the Cologne City Museum. In many parts, concerning the several hundred tactile and inclusive components, I am also involved in realization.

The exhibition content is made accessible through all media and senses. A multimedia guide with several specialized tracks leads through the museum. Exhibition content – from A-text to C-text is simply worded and available in Braille and audio and large print with excellent contrast on walls and tables. In addition, there is subtitling of videos, audio description of videos and objects, videos in DGS (German Sign Language) and the most important info also in pyramid writing. Of course, a floor guidance system leads through the exhibition. This is both a visual guide for the sighted and tactile for the blind visitors. On each floor there is a floor map that is visually and tactilely appealing. Very many of the exhibits are free to access and, of course, may be viewed with the hands. All floors are accessible by elevator.

The contract with the City of Cologne includes consulting on the selection of exhibits and the implementation of content according to inclusive aspects and curatorial objectives. Examination of the educational goals for feasibility. Concepts and drafts for alternative forms of presentation. Broadening and balancing the individual experience as part of an overall experience with all visitors. Consulting with the designers and architects involved and designing inclusive forms of presentation. This includes texts, graphics and alternative presentation of artwork. Implementing Braille and Profiled Lettering on exhibits and panels.

Rad also (German):

„Die Erarbeitung der neuen Dauerausstellung war ein spannender, intensiver Prozess” von Kurator Sascha Pries

„Wir wollen Geschichte erlebbar machen” – Ein Interview mit Silvia Rückert

Guest column by a blind art connoisseur

Anette Bach

Can art be comprehended?

A Rodin exhibition at the Folkwang Museum in Essen! For me an event! The years of my life when I was able to see were characterized by joy and interest in art. I loved drawing, but also paintings and sculpture. Even though I can no longer see, my interest in, I would even say my need for art has not changed. So I go to Essen. I remember Rodin’s works well. The famous „Thinker,“ „The Burghers of Calais,“ and first „The KUSS.“ What would the exhibition bring? Pure frustration! I was not allowed to touch anything.

I did not like to believe it at all. What could I destroy in stone sculptures if I only touched them with my hands? I was not allowed to touch anything even through a silk cloth that was laid on. I begged, scolded, argued. The acidic air of the Ruhr, the flies, spiders and dust would surely pose a greater threat to the integrity of the artwork. Nothing to do!

I think that’s not the way to do it! I too know, of course, that it would not be reasonable to open all museum and exhibition contents to every groping hand. But there is much more possible than is conceded. Certainly, I have often succeeded in organizing guided tours in which the showcases were opened after all or the boundary grids were pushed aside. But that was always a matter of luck and depended on the good will and high-handedness of the respective guide. I would like to see a change in thinking. All exhibitors should be obliged to make their exhibition accessible to visually impaired people. There are concepts for this and more can be developed. Exhibitors should have to have convincing arguments for what is not possible. There will always be such things, but it must not happen that we are forced into the role of supplicants, persuaders or rioters who demand something that is supposedly impossible.

If a fairy godmother ever came my way, I would wish that perhaps every state would create a facility that is chock full of models. There are so many magnificent, exciting and incredible things that people have created: The Inca’s buildings, the Taj Mahal, the Sydney Opera House or the Elbphilharmonie. Even if I could go everywhere and be allowed to walk around and touch everything, most of it would still not be accessible. I wouldn’t even recognize the David that Michelangelo created if I were allowed to climb around on the five-meter-high marble structure.

In the age of scanners and 3D printers, making models is probably just a matter of will.

My doorbell rings. Do fairies come through the front door?

About the author
Anette Bach heads the Hesse district group of the DVBS.

The 66-year-old organizes regular events on current topics and excursions with the leadership team, whose dates are published at and which are also open to interested guests.

The article was first published in Horus 2/2018 / Accessible Culture – Marburg Contributions to the Integration of the Blind and Visually Impaired. It was published here with the kind permission of the author.

The TellDing® comes to the GRASSI Museum für Völkerkunde zu Leipzig

An exhibition should be a multimedia experience and accessible to all. No complex installations will be made and no app or devices are necessary.

The TellDing® system, developed by me, reverses the technical bring and is exactly for this reason extremely interesting and without alternative for certain applications!

The task:

An object should 1. be able to be found only by hearing (in the dark or for blind visitors:inside).

2. the object should identify itself and provide audio or video.

The users do not need 3. a device or an app.

Use cases:

The exhibits in the exhibition are recorded.
A door, an elevator, the stairs, the toilet – i.e. the destination guidance.
The room text or ambient sound should be played.

The visitor does not need the guide or the smartphone in his hand. The intelligence is in the device at the exhibit or at the POI (such as doors, elevator, room text). It recognizes what it should offer him/her on the basis of an element carried by the visitor on the lanyard.

Lichtenberg Museum: Comprehensive inclusion consultation for new permanent exhibition

Medienraum Lichtenberg Museum

What was Lichtenberg yesterday? What is it today? And how are the two connected? With its permanent exhibition, the Museum Lichtenberg invites you on a journey of discovery.

Thanks to Julia Novak, Dr. Tim Weber, Dr. Dirk Moldt and Dr. Thomas Thiele, a museum for everyone has developed. Julia Novak: „It wants to appeal to everyone. That’s why we avoid barriers, structurally, in terms of content and language. We designed the museum to be inclusive, interactive and participatory.“

My contribution as a consultant was to introduce those involved in the project to the many possibilities of inclusive conception and design even before the planning stage. The selection of exhibits, the display, tactile fonts, Braille texts and tactile graphics, the orientation plan and the floor guidance system also with the general visitor guidance were affected. With ideas, praise but also with criticism the agency buerojolas created a fantastic exhibition worth visiting.

Lichtenberg Museum

From the first conversation on it was thought inclusively. The curator Julia Novak and the project manager Dr. Tim Weber and Dr. Thomas Thiele approached me with joy and enthusiasm for a „Museum for All“. Already in the first round we created free space for new ideas with all participants. All those in charge and those carrying out the work were carried along and sorted out all their thoughts on content, design, orientation and conveyance based on the holistic view of inclusion and Design for All. With great results and on a large scale. While not everything is perfect here in Berlin’s „Museum Lichtenberg“, we have created a great museum where everyone, yes everyone, takes their part.

Lichtenberg Museum

Lichtenberg Museum

Lichtenberg Museum



Berlin Global Exhibition at the Humboldt Forum Berlin


The Berlin Global exhibition at the Humboldt Forum in the Berlin Schloss has successfully opened and contains wonderful objects for an entertaining visit.

It is with some pride that I point out having contributed three special exhibits to the exhibition. Of course, my works are designed in an inclusive spirit and include Braille. My team partner werk5 | new craft is responsible for the production of the exhibits.

Outdoor exhibition in the "Naturpark Südgelände" with a haptic experience

© Grün Berlin: Frank Sperling

If you want to inspire all users, let them grasp! What is essential for blind people is also a popular added value for sighted visitors of all ages. If tactile elements are part of the exhibition, all visitors feel attracted and their hands wander exploratively over the instructive content.

Only exhibitions with tactile and three-dimensional exhibits meet the requirements of „Design for All“, „Good Design“ (Dieter Rams) and the legal requirements of accessibility.

In Berlin’s „Naturpark Südgelände“ I was able to support the senate-owned Grün Berlin GmbH with my consulting assignment and thus launch, constructively accompany and successfully conclude a fantastic exhibition project for the users and for the client. Already during the tendering and conception phase, the course was set for a fully integrated implementation. Here, the question of how to now add accessibility was not asked after the fact, but rather a coherent and thus aesthetically flawless design concept could be developed.

The exhibition includes over a dozen panels on local flora, fauna and technology. Worth a visit for all! Have fun!

All photos: © Green Berlin/Frank Sperling

© Grün Berlin: Frank Sperling
Exhibit panels of the didactic open-air exhibition with tactile elements of the nature park.
© Grün Berlin: Frank Sperling
A small child enthusiastically discovers the tactile model of the long-eared owl, a symbol of nature conservation (artist Stephan Hüsch)
© Grün Berlin: Frank Sperling
Tables with tactile overview map and technical sights of the nature park
© Grün Berlin: Frank Sperling
The hands of a blind woman explore a tactile graphic on the sound production of grasshoppers



Ideen, um Museen zugänglicher zu machen

Museen haben das Interesse und die Pflicht, sich um Menschen mit unterschiedlichen Vermittlungswegen zu kümmern.  Weltweit leben etwa 1,3 Milliarden Menschen mit irgendeiner Form von Blindheit oder Sehbehinderung. Allein in Europa sind etwa 25,5 Millionen Menschen sehbehindert!

Oft ist ein Museumsbesuch mit dem Gefühl der Ausgrenzung verbunden, wenn Inhalt nicht gleichwertig oder vollständig oder in einer Weise adäquat vermittelt werden. Das geschieht insbesondere, wenn man mit der Familie oder Freunden ein gemeinsames Museumserlebnis haben möchte. Das traditionelle Museumserlebnis mit Objekten hinter Glas bietet einem blinden oder sehbehinderten Menschen nichts. Aber die meisten Museen entwickeln sich gerade hier weiter, um dem gerecht zu werden und den Besuch für alle zu einem Erlebnis zu machen.

Wie können Museen sehbehinderten Besuchern gerecht werden?

Es gibt viele Möglichkeiten, wie man einen Besuch für eine sehbehinderte Person interessant machen kann. Das fängt bei Audioguides und Audiobeschreibungen an. Es sollten aber auch Ansätze wie taktile Grafiken und 3D-Objekte sein, immersive Klang/Raumerlebnisse und interaktive Mitmachelemente. In Museen auf der ganzen Welt geht es heute um mehr als nur um das Sehen. Multisensorische Ausstellungen sprechen die Sinne Sehen, Hören, Fühlen und Riechen an. Dieser Ansatz erweckt Exponate für alle Besucher zum Leben.

Der Einsatz von Technologie macht Museen inklusiver.

Dank neuer Technologien sind auch sehbehinderte Menschen in Museen zunehmend willkommen. Viele Museen auf der ganzen Welt arbeiten mit 3D-Druck.

Es liegt auf der Hand, dass diese Technologie den Museumsbesuch für alle Beteiligten verbessern kann. Wer möchte nicht einmal ein Exponat hinter Glas berühren, auch wenn es nur eine Reproduktion ist.

Museen haben blinden und sehbehinderten Menschen viel zu bieten.

Wichtig ist das Verständnis, dass das Sehen nicht der einzige Sinn ist, mit dem Menschen kulturelle Angebote erleben und genießen können. Hinter den Türen jedes Museums verbirgt sich eine Fülle faszinierender Materialien, die nur darauf warten, auf neue Weise entdeckt zu werden.

Audio- und Textbeschreibungen (auch Braille und DGS) sind gute Vermittlungsinstrumente. Sie können Menschen helfen, mehr über die Inhalte zu erfahren. Aber auch andere Sinne wie Tastsinn und Geruchssinn können das Erlebnis bereichern. Ein persönlicher Ansatz funktioniert ebenfalls gut, mit beschreibenden Führungen, die anschauliche Bilder im Kopf erzeugen können. Es ist auch wichtig, die Besucher vor dem Besuch zu informieren, damit sie wissen, welche Möglichkeiten es gibt.

Museen müssen mit sehbehinderten Menschen kommunizieren. Sie müssen ihnen zuhören und mit ihnen zusammenarbeiten, um ihre Bedürfnisse zu verstehen. Ich zeige immer wieder gerne, wie kleine Veränderungen und zusätzliche Angebote einen großen Unterschied machen können. Mit diesen Veränderungen können Museen dafür sorgen, dass sich blinde und sehbehinderte Menschen wirklich willkommen fühlen.

An audio information and guidance system entirely without an app. Accessibility fast and inexpensive.

TellDing ist ein Plug & Play Audioguide

A system informs your visitors without any effort.

TellDing is installed in the museum at the exhibit, doors and stairs, room information, etc. The visitor approaches the corresponding information point or exhibit with his visitor’s card (entrance ticket) and receives audio information in his native language. Blind visitors get detailed audio description. As a talking point, the TellDing even helps blind visitors find the object or door or elevator by simply allowing the visitor to follow the audio source. Ingeniously simple! And no great cost to set up.

Find out about possibilities and costs at


Ölgemälde haptisch erfassbar – die nächste Stufe

Zusammen mit unserem #goinclusive-Partner Werk5 GmbH arbeiten wir weiter an der nächsten Generation inklusiver taktiler Medien. In der Werkstatt liegt derzeit für den Dauertest unter Sonnenlicht und massenhafter Berührung die farbige Variante des Felix-Nussbaum-Gemäldes „Selbstbildnis mit Judenpass“.

Das neue und einzigartige ist die vollfarbige Kopie des Gemäldes auf der taktilen Form. Daraus ergibt sich eine einzigartige Symbiose aus Realität und Gemälde. Blinde, sehbehinderte und sehende Besucher erleben und begreifen das selbe Objekt.

„Faszinierend! Es ist, als ob Felix Nussbaum selbst da wäre.”

Taktil und noch näher am Original
Nussbaum in Farbe – noch näher am Original

Websites öffentlicher Stellen müssen ab jetzt öffentlich erklären warum sie ggf. nicht voll barrierefrei sind

Ab 23. September 2020 müssen alle Webseiten öffentlicher Stellen eine Erklärung zur Barrierefreiheit haben. Wenn ein Nutzer durch eine Barriere an der Nutzung gehindert wird, die in der Erklärung nicht aufgeführt ist, kann er diese melden.

Wie der rechtliche Hintergrund aussieht, erklärt DBSV-Rechtsreferentin Christiane Möller:

Alle Internetseiten öffentlicher Stellen müssen seit heute eine Erklärung zur Barrierefreiheit aufweisen. Das beruht auf europäischen Vorgaben (Richtlinie 2016/2102). Für Apps gilt das erst vom 23. Juni nächsten Jahres an. Öffentliche Stellen sind zum Beispiel Behörden, Ministerien, Krankenkassen, aber auch Einrichtungen der Daseinsvorsorge, wie etwa kommunale Nahverkehrsunternehmen oder Abfallentsorger. Die Erklärung zur Barrierefreiheit gibt an, welche Teile oder Inhalte der Internetseite (noch) nicht vollständig barrierefrei gestaltet wurden und warum. Sofern vorhanden, ist ein Hinweis auf barrierefrei gestaltete inhaltliche Alternativen anzugeben. Außerdem muss die Möglichkeit gegeben werden, Barrieren zu melden (Feedback-Mechanismus). Öffentliche Stellen müssen innerhalb eines Monats auf eingehende Anliegen antworten. Die Erklärung und der Feedback-Mechanismus müssen von der Startseite und jeder Seite einer Website erreichbar sein. Wenn die Antwort auf gemeldete Barrieren aus Sicht der Nutzerin oder des Nutzers unbefriedigend ist, soll eine Möglichkeit zur Streitbeilegung benannt werden. Im Falle von Bundesbehörden ist das das Schlichtungsverfahren nach dem Behindertengleichstellungsgesetz (BGG).

Für die Seiten der öffentlichen Stellen der Bundesländer und Kommunen gibt es je nach Land eigene Streitbeilegungssysteme. Hilft all das nicht, bleibt zum Schluss der Weg zu den Gerichten, um Barrierefreiheit einzuklagen, auch für Verbände von Menschen mit Behinderungen. Um das Mittel der Verbandsklage zu etablieren und so Barrierefreiheit voranzubringen, führt der DBSV derzeit das Projekt „Barrierefreiheit durchsetzen, Diskriminierung ahnden“ durch.

„Websites öffentlicher Stellen müssen ab jetzt öffentlich erklären warum sie ggf. nicht voll barrierefrei sind“ weiterlesen

How does an oil painting become a crowd puller and also "visible" to blind museum visitors?

An important painting by Felix Nussbaum, the „Self-Portrait with the Jew’s Pass“, is to become a new crowd puller at the Felix Nussbaum Museum in the Osnabrück Museumsquartier through a 3D implementation.


For this purpose, we used our capabilities to model the painting digitally as a relief and then to have it created from a Corian block using a computer-controlled state-of-the-art 5-head milling machine. Using CAD, we determine the surface structure (for the adequate haptics) and depth of the components according to pedagogical aspects for the blind and, like a sculptor, we redesign the work in the artist’s sense – with a focus on tactile mediation.

Umsetzung eines Felix Nussbaum-Gemäldes in Relief und Braille

Why museums must adopt a culture of accessibility

Beyond compliance with legal requirements: Museums must consider accessibility and inclusion as a permanent obligation. Access to social heritage and culture can be considered a fundamental right of all people, regardless of their identity or possibilities.

Museum professionals have a duty to facilitate access and make appropriate adjustments. Access is not limited to the needs of people with physical disabilities. Some groups have needs that may not be seen. All forms of disability, including reduced mobility, visual or hearing impairments, learning difficulties, limited strength or mobility, and language and communication difficulties must be taken into account.

Respecting equal access and inclusion in museums goes beyond compliance: it is about doing the „right thing“ now.

It is about ensuring that equal access is embedded in the culture and structures of the organisation and should not be seen as an „extra service“.

The responsibility thus assumed is also forward-looking and cost-effective for the museum. By understanding the needs of visitors and ensuring that these are taken into account in the preparation of the visit and from the start of new projects, no corrections, adaptations or parallel worlds are necessary.

#goinclusive can help museums to make their collections, buildings, programmes and services accessible to the entire public and has done so in many cases over the years. #goinclusive has supported numerous projects with creative and innovative approaches to improve access and promote inclusive practice in museums. Over the years, we have consistently pursued innovative ways to break down barriers and expand the participation of different audiences and visitors.

Simple, cost-effective things you can do include: Forward planning. User involvement and participation to find solutions. Working with organizations that support people with disabilities. Training and raising staff awareness of equality and diversity, including disability awareness training. We would be happy to advise and support you in these steps towards the realisation of your projects.