Children’s Museum unveils new A-Mazing Airways exhibit, screens “Blind Ambition” documentary on Friday
The Terre Haute Children’s Museum will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, but will be open from 10 a.m .to 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 25, and on that day guests will be able to check out the brand new A-Mazing Airways exhibit, sponsored by the Larry Paul Fleschner Charitable Foundation.
A-Mazing Airways is an impressive pneumatic air system that engages children and adults to explore the properties of air. Balls and scarves swoosh through hundreds of feet of large 5” clear rigid and flexible tubing as children discover how objects move through the pneumatic pathways.
But how would those who are visually impaired interact with this exhibit? If they can’t see the objects moving through the pathways, how can they still explore the properties of air? On Friday morning, this is a question that the Museum will be addressing with the help of Kristin Fleschner and some local children who are visually impaired.
A native of Terre Haute, Fleschner started experiencing vision loss in 2008 after an organ transplant. She is a strong advocate for the rights of people with disabilities, and has been providing advice to the Museum on how to incorporate elements of universal design into the A-Mazing Airways exhibit and all of the exhibit areas at the Museum.
The term "universal design" was coined by the architect Ronald L. Mace to describe the concept of designing all products and the built environment to be aesthetic and usable to the greatest extent possible by everyone, regardless of their age, ability, or status in life.
For example, when planning the design and placement of the A-Mazing Airways exhibit, Fleschner advised the Museum on how it could use lighting, color contrast, and the reduction of glare to make the exhibit and components more visible, not only for those who are visually impaired, but for all guests.
And on Friday morning, Fleshchner and a few local youth who are blind or visually impaired, will visit the Museum to continue to provide that advice. They will interact with the A-Mazing Airways exhibit and explore the Museum’s other areas to provide suggestions on ways that the facility and exhibits can be more usable for those with visual impairments. Possible additions to the A-Mazing Airways exhibit could include Braille signage, sounds to indicate when items enter or exit the pneumatic pathways, and maybe even an app that provides audio instructions on how to interact with the exhibit and descriptions of what is happening after that interaction takes place.
Also on Friday, at 10:30 a.m., Fleschner will share her 15-minute documentary, "Blind Ambition," with Museum guests. The documentary, which was filmed in 2013, follows Fleschner and other Harvard Law students with visual impairments through a typical day of attending classes, studying, and engaging faculty and peers. Through the documentary, she intended to show others that adversities can become “opportunities to grow and adapt well.”
According to Fleschner, “we have the laws” to support individuals with disabilities and mandate accessibility. Education and cultural change present the next challenges and are the focus of many advocates such as herself. She hopes that by working with the Museum, she can provide some opportunities for that type of education and cultural change right here in the Wabash Valley.
The Terre Haute Children’s Museum, located at the corner of 8th Street and Wabash Avenue in downtown Terre Haute, is a nonprofit institution dedicated to enriching our children’s lives through the exploration of science and technology. Admission is free for members of the Terre Haute Children’s Museum and children under 24 months. Regular admission is $8 for adults and children over 24 months. Families who participate in qualifying assistance programs can enroll in the Access Pass program, which allows them to visit the Museum for just $1 per family member per visit.
For more information about the Terre Haute Children’s Museum, visit www.thchildrensmuseum.com, email info@