Designers of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg say they are setting a new standard in making the building accessible to people with a wide range of disabilities.

Eight disabled Canadians have had direct input into the design of the museum, which is being built near The Forks in the city's downtown. Designers are now working on implementing their recommendations.


This miniature 3D model of the museum can be handled by visually impaired visitors to determine how atriums and galleries are laid out. (Marianne Klowak/CBC)

Museum officials showcased highlights of the accessible design to reporters on Tuesday.

"I'm really excited what's happening with the human rights museum," said Valerie Wolbert, a Winnipeg disability rights activist who was consulted by the museum.

Wolbert recommended that exhibits use language that is easy for everyone, including those with cognitive impairments, to understand.

"For me, as a person with an intellectual disability, I feel it would be great for having the plain language for everybody," she said.

The museum will also employ tactile maps and a miniature 3D model of the building to help visually impaired visitors get a feel for how atriums and galleries are laid out.

"The fact that we're creating everything fresh, it's a blank canvas. We can do so with an inclusive design methodology," said Corey Timpson, the museum's director of design.

Timpson said the standards being developed will apply throughout the entire museum experience, including all exhibits.

Officials say the design will be a first in Canada and will surpass the standard used by the Smithsonian Institution in terms of being accessible to as many people as possible.

"We believe we are setting a global standard," said Stuart Murray, the museum's chief executive officer.

"Now when new buildings get built, they're going to look at the new gold standard which is going to be the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. It's significant and it's something we are extremely proud of."