Tactile interactives and accessibility

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      Trevor Woods

        Question: We have tactile interactives in some of our new exhibits; is there a recommended way to sort of alert people with limited or no vision that they are there? (For now, unfortunately, they have been uninstalled due to COVID but they will hopefully be back eventually).

        Think about implementing inclusive design throughout your museum as it will not only benefit visitors with limited or no vision or other disabilities but will benefit all visitors to the museum. For example, audio guides have been implemented at places such as the Andy Warhol Museum through audio recordings made available via a mobile app that utilizes location recognition software to alert visitors to various aspects of the museum and tactile exhibits as they navigate the museum and individual exhibits. In this particular example, guided tactile descriptions and tactile reproduction have been found to be most helpful for visitors who are blind or have low vision but enhance gallery experience for all visitors. Furthermore, be proactive and make sure that your institution has a website with updated information that is easy to find and clear for those who have questions about accessibility. This will present another opportunity to let all potential visitors know what interactives are available in the museum and how accessible they are.

        Source: Inclusive Digital Interactives: Best Practices and Research. Smithsonian Press, 2020. https://access.si.edu/sites/default/files/inclusive-digital-interactives-best-practices-research.pdf
        This is a wonderful resource of case studies that highlight best practices in inclusive design which highlights digital interactives.

        Other helpful sources: Roberto Vaz, Paula Odete Fernandes, Ana Cecília Rocha Veiga.
        Designing an Interactive Exhibitor for Assisting Blind and Visually Impaired Visitors in Tactile Exploration of Original Museum Pieces. Procedia Computer Science, Volume 138, 2018, Pages 561-570, ISSN 1877-0509, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.procs.2018.10.076.

        See also “Revisiting Touch in Pandemic Year Two” blog post & linked paper by Cheryl Fogle-Hatch (who was cited in at least one of the webinars in this module, I believe) https://museumsenses.org/revisiting-touch-in-pandemic-year-two/

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