National Palace Museum sets new standard in access tours

National Palace Museum sets new standard in access tours
Country: Taiwan
City: Taiwan
Institution Type: Art, Historic/Heritage
Exhibition Type: Permanent
Content Type: Audio
Players: Downloadable App (iOS)
Deal Type: Content only
Language: Mandarin
Client testimonial
“Together, we’ve collaborated to create a holistic tour that enables more people to experience our collection more fully. This innovation is all part of our extensive and continued drive to meet our mission of building a museum that is accessible and engaging for all."
Hsiaote Hsu, Chief Curator of the Department of Education, Exhibition, and Information Services at the National Palace Museum
Client profile
The National Palace Museum contains 8,000 years of Chinese art from Neolithic jade carvings to late Qing dynasty paintings and figurines. The permanent collection of nearly 700,000 artifacts and artworks is drawn from the collections of China’s imperial rulers over millennia, showcasing both the country’s artistry and the rulers’ cultural contributions.
Challenge - creating a tour for visually impaired and blind people
National Palace Museum is committed to providing the best possible experience for all visitors, including people with disabilities. 
Following the success of a tour for people with hearing impairments, the Museum decided to develop a tour specifically designed to meet the unique needs of the blind and visually impaired. 
Solution - listening to the views of the blind and visually impaired
Antenna International has worked with the National Palace Museum for over nine years and has a strong track record in producing accessible tours for visitors with disabilities. 
Antenna involved an expert consultant in the tour development process, a teacher who works with visually impaired and blind people, and her students. Antenna ran a series of focus groups to discover how to describe objects in a way that brings them to life for this group, the best type of device to use for the most intuitive experience, and how to cater for people with low vision and without any sight at all.
During the focus groups, Antenna learnt that blind and low vision individuals are comfortable using smartphones to access content. Smartphones have many accessibility features built-in as standard, so it was a natural fit to leverage the existing technology and build the tour around it. Rather than create a tour listing every object in the museum, it was decided to concentrate on 34 significant items of classical Chinese artworks and artefacts.
Evocative object descriptions were critical, so Antenna involved the focus group in the development of the audio scripts. Users were asked to touch duplicates of the objects and share their feedback, with the goal of creating vivid mental images of the artefacts and artworks. The tour went through extensive three-stage testing with the focus group, finishing with testing on the actual device in the museum. 
Hsiao Huang-chi, a visually impaired award-winning Taiwan singer, was invited to record the introduction to the tour.

Outcome - a new standard for blind and visually impaired tours
The smartphone audio tour launched in June 2017. It is the first of its kind in Taiwan. 
Listening to the views of blind and visually impaired people has resulted in a tour that is genuinely inventive and easy to use. Focus group users were invited to the press conference, and schools and groups invited to experience the tour - for free - and provide feedback. Visitor comments have been very positive, and the tour has opened up the Museum's collection to a wider audience, some of whom have not visited the museum before. 
The tour complements the Museums range of tactile aids, including Braille maps and guidebooks, 3-D models and raised images and reproductions. As life expectancy increases and museums draw increasingly diverse visitors, Antenna and the National Palace Museum are leading the way in innovative and engaging accessibility tours.