All posts by museumforall

Made a museum a more welcoming place? Apply for a Design for All Foundation Award now!

Photo of Design for All Foundation Awards trophy

Are you passionate about opening up culture to everyone?

The Design for All Foundation is looking for the best Design for All projects undertaken between 1 January 2012 and 1 January 2013. If you’ve been involved in a an inspirational initiative to make a museum or cultural centre more inclusive, we want to hear from you. Be quick though – the deadline is 17 February.

The winners will be announced during a ceremony which will take place during the International Design Biennial in Saint-Étienne, giving your project the chance to shine in front of an international audience.

Find out more on the Design for All Foundation Awards 2013 website.

PS In need of inspiration? Have a look at the museum projects which reached the finals last year in our blog post. Or check out the full list of last year’s winners and finalists on the Design for Foundation website.

Adapted astronomy: “The sky in your hands” – “O Céu nas tuas mãos” Astronomia adaptada

(Reblogged from Património Português Acessível)

Between 19 November 2012 and 19 January 2013, visitors to Lisbon’s Planetário Calouste Gulbenkian (Calouste Gulbenkian Planetarium) can participate in a multisensory plantearium exhibition, incorporating tactile elements. The exhibition, supported by the Portuguese visually impaired people’s association Associação dos Cegos e Amblíopes de Portugal (ACAPO) and national science and technology agency Ciência Viva, was first shown in Valencia, Spain, before moving to Espinho, Portugal. The aim is to bring astronomy to a wider audience, in particular allowing visually impaired people to find out about astronomy.

During sessions of the exhibitions, visitors can touch hemispheres with tactile representations of the constellations, while audio information is played. Visual images of  constellations are simulataneously projected onto the planetarium dome, allowing everyone to enjoy the experience.

Information in Portuguese / Informações em Português: 

Estão a decorrer no Planetário de Lisboa desde o dia 19 de Novembro, uma exposição tátil e uma sessão de planetário. Esta exposição conta com o apoio da “Ciência Viva” e da ACAPO .

A Sessão de Planetário “O Céu nas tuas mãos” está a decorrer entre 19 de Novembro e 19 de Janeiro de 2013, no Planetário Calouste Gulbenkian ou Planetário de Lisboa, como é mais conhecido. Este projeto foi iniciado em Valência, Espanha, já passou este ano no planetário de Espinho. Pretende chegar a um público mais alargado, neste caso, pessoas com baixa visão ou pessoas invisuais.

Em cada sessão serão disponibilizadas aos participantes semi-esferas, num total de 64 por sessão, que as formas das constelações, ao mesmo tempo que será passada o ma banda sonora. “Um equivalente visual será projetado na cúpula do planetário, tornando a experiência acessível a todos”.

Art Beyond Sight Telephone Conference Crash Course – 29 October

As part of Art Beyond Sight awareness month, which also includes this week’s Multimodal Approaches to Learning Conference (see 25 September blog post), a telephone conference crash course will be held on Monday 29 October.

The course, aimed at museum professionals and anyone wishing to improve access to culture, will include professional development sessions on:

  • cost and cost-effectiveness of accessibility programmes
  • website accessibility
  • grant writing and accessibility

The course will also explore audience research and engagement for small museums and present challenges and successes of pilot programmes, as well as featuring a roundtable of docents (museum guides).

You can find the full programme, along with information about all the Art Beyond Sight awareness month activities, on the Art Beyond Sight website.

EBU Access to Culture Project 2011-2012

The European Blind Union (EBU) Access to Culture Project seeks to map current levels of accessibility to cultural venues and activities in Europe. According to EBU, the Access to Culture survey results show that Article 30 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which provides for equal participation in cultural life, has so far been insufficiently implemented with regard to visually impaired people.

The project’s summary report outlines recommendations made by survey respondents, including the following:

  • implementing rights legislation to guarantee cultural accessibility
  • making accessibility a condition for the receipt of funding for culture
  • adopting an inclusve budget policy
  • involving all stakeholders at all stages of project development
  • applying Design for All principles

According to EBU Access to Culture Project Officer and cultural accessibility expert Marcus Weisen, the full report is due to be published within two months and will include good-practice case studies of museums, cinemas, theatres and tourist organisations in European countries.

Museum exhibitions and cultural centres recognised at the Design for All Foundation Awards 2012

The Design for All Foundation Awards recognise projects which use Design for All as a tool to improve quality of life and, in so doing, draw international attention to organisations undertaking exemplary work in this field. This year there were almost 60 entries from 17 different countries, and the quality of the entries made the competition more difficult than ever before.

Museum and cultural exhibitions were represented strongly, with three cultural exhibitions reaching the finals. Demonstrating a range of approaches to creating exhibitions which more people can enjoy, they also provide an indication of the exciting variety of work being undertaken in this field.

First, we were treated to a glimpse of ancient Greece with From being accessible to becoming inclusive: The metamorphosis of a travelling exhibition, a project by Athens-based access professional Anastasia Kalou. The project involved the adaptation of an international travelling exhibition, “Myrtis: face to face with the past”, which presents the interdisciplinary journey leading to the reconstruction of the face of Myrtis, an 11-year-old Athenian girl of the fifth century B.C. Myrtis’ skull was found in a mass grave in Kerameikos, the ancient cemetery of Athens, and revealed the sudden cause of death of thousands of citizens, including the death of Pericles, the creator of the Athenian “Golden Age”.

Photograph of a man listening to an audio device while touching a tactile exhibitPhoto showing a man feeling tactile exhibits of skulls

Photo of a young boy standing on a step and looking into a microscope

The adaptation methodology was based upon Design for All principles to ensure all aspects of human diversity were respected, resulting in a multisensory exhibition which could be enjoyed by many different visitors. From the outset a focus group was involved to help ensure a holistic, human-centred design process.

Photo of  a tactile relief model being touched by different visitorsPhoto of a man handling a vase exhibit at the exhibition

Feedback so far suggests that providing different options for visitors to access information has led to an increase in visitor numbers as well as the demand for the exhibition to travel elsewhere, thus ensuring its sustainability while keeping within a tight budget. The exhibition is now more appealing to younger visitors, for whom touch is extremely important, as well as to older visitors with deteriorating hearing and vision. The exhibition encouraged local disability and community groups to cooperate, while museums which host the exhibition organise staff access training courses, and implement outreach programs even after the exhibition has ended.

The next finalist, Multi-sensory Exhibition Adaptations, was a joint project to adapt “In Arbeit”, an exhibition focusing on working life, for the Technological Museum in Vienna using a set of tactile materials, a navigation system and an audio guide. Exhibition adaptation specialists ArteConTacto teamed up with research institute VRVis, which was developing a computer-assisted process to develop images into tactile media.

A handmade architectural model of the exhibition space was created and mounted at the exhibition entrance at a height accessible to wheelchair users and children.

Photo showing handmade architectural model of the exhibition space

1:1 replicas of a selection of objects were also created, along with a 1:50 3D printout of one of the main exhibits, a giant melting pot.

Photo showing the scale model of the melting pot exhibit, including the model of a jug on a board to one side

Photo of the decoratively carved handle of a hunting knife

Photo showing a relief representation of the hunting knife being carved Photo showing an exhibit incorporating the relief representation of the hunting knife

A portable folder containing a tactile floor plan of the museum, as well as tactile diagrams of paintings and the logos of different sections of the exhibition, was also provided, while a tactile floor navigation system was used to connect selected objects.

All materials and navigation routes were described by the audio guide, developed in DAISY, a special format for audible books. The complete audio book can also be downloaded from the museum website, together with an audio description of how to get to the museum. Guided tours, individualised for the requirements of any visitors, are also provided by the museum to complement the other adaptations.

A working group was established with the aim of developing guidelines and technological tools for converting artworks into multisensory media. A video of the process can be found on the ArteConTacto website, while further photos can be seen in the “In Arbeit” blog post below.

Our last exhibition-focused finalist, EO Guidage, transported us to the land of the Lumières for their project to make the Cinémathèque Française accessible. Founded in 1936, the Cinémathèque Française is arguably the most famous film library and museum in the world. In 2005 it moved to a new building designed by Frank Gehri.

Following an access audit and user-needs analysis in 2008, EO Guidage began the installation of equipment to facilitate safe and independent use by all visitors. Folding chairs and wheelchairs are now available for mobility-impaired people, and there is step-free access to all floors.

Photo showing a corduroy tactile guidance strip on the floor leading to the reception deskPhoto showing a blister tactile warning strip at the top of a flight of stairs

Good visual contrast and Braille characters are used on signage, and audio signage can also be activated by remote control, while multimedia and tactile maps and guides also aid navigation and understanding.

Photo of a multisensory navigation stand, featuring a tactile map

Photo of a tactile floor plan being touched by a visitor

Isolated areas are equipped with flashing lights to help in the event of emergency evacuation. Audio guides with large contrasted keys are available, induction loops have been fitted, audio described screenings are regularly organised and visits translated into French sign language have been organised. Finally, all museum guides have also been trained to welcome people with learning disabilities.

Photo of a device to provide audio signals above a door with a close-up in an inset photo