Blind Consultants Shape Groundbreaking Audio Tour

July 25, 2017

Image of National Museum app for blind and low vision visitorsPartners in innovation, the National Palace Museum and Antenna have recently launched Taiwan’s first-ever museum smartphone audio tour for blind and low-vision visitors. An intuitive experience that enables the clear visualisation of 36 significant objects in the museum’s illustrious collection, from ancient Chinese porcelain vases to exquisite bronzes, this tour offers a new standard for vision-impaired tours—from development to visitor experience. Here’s why.

Engaging the experts
To create this tour, Antenna started at the end—with our users, engaging several focus groups of blind and low-vision consultants. These experts were instrumental in producing a meaningful, relatable experience for vision-impaired museumgoers.

Making a smart use of smart
The first discovery in the process with our consultants was the smartphones tools and screen readers that many blind and low-vision people use regularly. Antenna built the backbone of our tour using these already familiar systems.

“Employing everyday technology establishes a more spontaneous tour,” according to Rita Tseng, Antenna’s Account Manager for the NPM in Taiwan. “Rather than learning a new system, visitors are instantaneously transported into the museum’s collection.”

 

Writing from touch
The consultants next helped as we were writing the object descriptions. Participants touched duplicate objects and helped craft the language that would most precisely and evocatively express each piece—its size, shape, texture, and more.

Once the tour was produced, the consultants tested it in the museum space to make sure it was as clear, integrated, and impactful as possible.

Hsiaote Hsu, Chief Curator of the Department of Education, Exhibition, and Information Services at the National Palace Museum, was keen for blind and low vision people to be involved at every stage: “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.

 

Joan Horn, Antenna’s Head of Experience Design for the Asia-Pacific region, sees this as a goal all museums must strive for: “As life expectancy increases and museums draw increasingly diverse visitors, the industry continues to lead the way in addressing accessibility issues. It’s an exciting time as smart devices and digital technologies are accelerating innovation—change is happening at lightning speed.”

This tour, then, is just the beginning. Wen-chian Lo, one of the low-vision consultants that partnered with the museum and Antenna, says it all in describing the tour: “One small step for the National Palace Museum, one giant leap for all of the world’s museums.”

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We make audio tours, mobile apps, multimedia guides, podcasts, interactives, and superior story-driven content for the museum and cultural sector.

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