Museums constitute an essential part of the European cultural landscape serving as a key player in preserving cultural heritage on the one hand, and as platforms for contemporary forms of expression on the other. However, they primarily address the visual senses and blind and visually impaired people, therefore, are excluded from a wide range of services offered by traditional museums, including the museums’ role as platform where informal learning takes place. But times are changing and innovative 3D technologies as well as multi-sensory methods offer solutions for blind and visually impaired people, by enabling them to get in touch with exhibits and to participate in museums’ educational services. A couple of museums in Europe already offer blind and visually impaired visitors – to some extent – access to some of their collections through the use of innovative 3D technology . They initiated such projects in recent years, but faced budgetary, technical and conceptual obstacles that needed to be overcome. However, museums who managed such projects, received extremely positive feedback from blind and visually impaired People.
The project AMBAVis will examine existing innovative technical solutions, in order to allow an understanding of how to improve them and to generate more affordable tactile models for museums in the future. Tactile models and 3D objects will be developed by applying three different technologies:
- 3D replication and digital touch,
- Virtual haptics,
- Relief printing.
Expected results are evaluations and a better understanding of existing and emerging technologies applicable for tactile and 3D objects in museums in terms of the experience from the focus groups as well as cost-effectiveness and therefore affordability for museums.
However, as improving access to museums for blind and visually impaired people is a multifaceted issue, a comprehensive approach was chosen to also address the economic and legal aspects. The economic impact of the use of 3D technologies and tactile models in museums will be measured in order to show, that there is a broader value added in terms of gross value added and employment arising in the EU-28. Finally, questions concerning copyright issues occurring in the context of the 3D technological outputs created for blind and visually impaired visitors in museums will be analyzed and clarified, as they have a high practical relevance when implementing such projects.