Are Museums Taking the Visually Impaired into Consideration?
Last updated: April 2021
Hi! I am home but my head is on vacation...and I don’t think you know me well enough to follow up on THAT statement. Anyway, got to thinking about our last vacation. It was a great vacation but I was disappointed I could not get close enough to the Book of Kells to discern a thing!
Considering visual impairment
I didn’t want to sneeze or snot on it! I just wanted to be able to see it! That has not been an option for most visually impaired museum-goers. Museum holdings are often so precious and fragile viewers are kept at arm’s reach and even farther. However, the times they are a-changin’. Places are finally taking the visually impaired into consideration.
If you search "The Auditory Description Project" and then go to "Audio Description at Museums, Parks, Exhibits and More," you may just hit the mother lode of cool places that actually make an effort to tell you what everyone else is ooooh-ing and ahhh-ing about.
First, you need to find the "UniDescription" app in the App Store or Google Play and download it. It’s free. You use this app to “read” those funny, little, barcode jiggers.
What are QR codes?
First of all, those little barcode jiggers are called QR codes. You may know what I am talking about. They are squares often with squares in the corners and masses of dots and dashes inside. All those dots and dashes are readable and contain information you may want to know.
I have seen QR codes at the zoo. They are generally right next to the written text telling you all about the Tasmanian Devil or the wombats.
And to go off on a small tangent here, it is possible to make your own QR codes for things around the house. The app is DigitEyes. This app is also free in the App Store as well as Google Play.
Back on track, QR can read the descriptive blurbs on the exhibits but can we go any farther than that? Maybe.
Please touch museums
MaxiAids, the suppliers of amazing things to help the handicapped, actually has a blog. I did not know that! Said blog ran a piece on seeing art through touch and sound. It would seem museums all over the world have been adding “please touch” exhibits! Run your hands over either a sculpture from the museum collection or a fine reproduction of the same. Touch a three-dimensional print of a two-dimensional painting. Feel the brush strokes Leonardo made on the Mona Lisa. Wow. Cool stuff!
Right now, the United States is lagging behind in making these great innovations available. That might be just an excuse for going to Paris or Florence. Both the Louvre and the Uffizi have “please touch” galleries.
Accessbile museum experiences
Would you like a museum that was conceived as a place for the visually impaired? A museum where you can touch EVERY ONE of the exhibits? While it is only one floor of a larger facility, the Tiflologico Museum in Madrid is that museum. Walk your fingers inside a scale model of the Coliseum. Climb the great pyramids of Egypt (Great Pyramid of Gaza) and Mexico (El Castillo) using only one hand! The other one can be behind your back if you are feeling cocksure of yourself.
Vacations can be great and they are getting even better for the visually impaired. Now download your apps and get out of here. I will meet you later. Wanna race up a pyramid? Bet I can beat you!
Do you find that fear interferes with your ability to regularly go to eye specialist appointments?