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Towards the inclusive museum: The German Federation of the Blind and Partially Sighted (DBSV) launches a new project
What do you need when visiting a museum as a blind or partially sighted person? Many experts have already given thought to this issue and pointed out key aspects in numerous publications.
First of all, you need to find the museum and be able to orient yourself in the building. Having a good route description, well visible references for partially sighted people and a proper tactile guidance system for blind visitors are very helpful for this purpose. An audioguide should contain not only background information about the exhibits, but also descriptions of their appearance. And finally, you should be able to touch as many items as possible – best if original, but at least replicas, models or tactile images. The DBSV has been active in the field of accessible culture for a long time and has developed, inter alia, recommendations for implementing accessibility in museums. Still, this implementation is frequently inappropriate. The DBSV therefore has launched its new project “Kultur mit allen Sinnen” (Culture with all senses). The aim of this two and a half year project is to make the permanent exhibition of the Berlinische Galerie, dedicated to Berlin artists from the 19th and 20th centuries, more accessible for visitors with a visual impairment, but also invite other groups of people with disability to help improve the general access to the museum and its collections. On the basis of this example, guidelines for implementing inclusion in museums should be developed. Blind and partially sighted people, experts on accessibility and museum´s staff will work together in the search of practical implementation possibilities for the three fields orientation, audioguide and tactile media. In Autumn 2017, the Berlinische Galerie will present its extented inclusive offer, thus encouraging other museums to head for the inclusive era.
Experiencing virtual haptics was one of the highlights at the partner meeting held in Manchester this month. Virtual haptics is among the three technologies which will be used in the AMBAVis project to convey paintings and cultural objects to blind and visually impaired people. Through the Probos© Interface we had the opportunity to touch artefacts despite the fact that they exist only virtually. Within the next weeks a painting of Gustav Klimt located at the Galerie Belvedere and an ancient Egypt sarcophagus of a cat mummy from the Manchester Museum will be edited via this technology in order to allow a better access for blind people. Furthermore a first prototype of the relief printer medium was presented and tested. First tests showed that the printer medium used has a very promising quality regarding haptic experience and usability. The two paintings/artefacts mentioned above will also be transformed to tactile models through the relief printer medium within the next months. A subsequent evaluation of the outputs will examine the user-friendliness as well as the economic terms of its production processes.
Information platform databus on accessible travel and cultural destinations for blind and partially sighted people
An information platform is offered by the German Federation of the Blind and Partially Sighted (DBSV) which offers detailed information about cultural places with special offers for this specific target group. 307 museums are as well part of the platform. They offer special guided tours in which objects may be touched, audio-guides, tactile models or location plans describing the way from the nearest bus stop to the museum.
In www.databus.dbsv.org the offers can be searched following the categories exhibition, sight, event, restaurants and hosting, mobility and guiding services. A directed search for specific cities or following a postcode is also possible.
The coordination team on tourism of DBSV is planning to further develop databus by enhancing the search tool and by adding offers in Austria and Switzerland.
Karol Trnka, a member of the AMBAVis partnership, recently was a guest at the Slovakian TV JOJ where he talked about the projects “Touch the History” as well as AMBAVis. Both projects aim at providing better access to culture and history for blind and visually impaired people through the use of technical devices and 3D technology.
The Video with English subtitles can be found here.