skip to main content

Title: An Independent and Interactive Museum Experience for Blind People
Museums are gradually becoming more accessible to blind people, who have shown interest in visiting museums and in appreciating visual art. Yet, their ability to visit museums is still dependent on the assistance they get from their family and friends or from the museum personnel. Based on this observation and on prior research, we developed a solution to support an independent, interactive museum experience that uses the continuous tracking of the user’s location and orientation to enable a seamless interaction between Navigation and Art Appreciation. Accurate localization and context-awareness allow for turn-by-turn guidance (Navigation Mode), as well as detailed audio content when facing an artwork within close proximity (Art Appreciation Mode). In order to evaluate our system, we installed it at The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and conducted a user study where nine blind participants followed routes of interest while learning about the artworks. We found that all participants were able to follow the intended path, immediately grasped how to switch between Navigation and Art Appreciation modes, and valued listening to the audio content in front of each artwork. Also, they showed high satisfaction and an increased motivation to visit museums more often
 ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the 16th International Web for All Conference
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Navigation assistive technologies have been designed to support individuals with visual impairments during independent mobility by providing sensory augmentation and contextual awareness of their surroundings. Such information is habitually provided through predefned audio-haptic interaction paradigms. However, individual capabilities, preferences and behavior of people with visual impairments are heterogeneous, and may change due to experience, context and necessity. Therefore, the circumstances and modalities for providing navigation assistance need to be personalized to different users, and through time for each user. We conduct a study with 13 blind participants to explore how the desirability of messages provided during assisted navigation varies based on users' navigation preferences and expertise. The participants are guided through two different routes, one without prior knowledge and one previously studied and traversed. The guidance is provided through turn-by-turn instructions, enriched with contextual information about the environment. During navigation and follow-up interviews, we uncover that participants have diversifed needs for navigation instructions based on their abilities and preferences. Our study motivates the design of future navigation systems capable of verbosity level personalization in order to keep the users engaged in the current situational context while minimizing distractions.
  2. Informal science learning spaces such as museums have been exploring the potential of Augmented Reality (AR) as a means to connect visitors to places, times, or types of content that are otherwise inaccessible. This proposal reports on a design-based research project conducted at La Brea Tar Pits, an active paleontological dig site located within a city park in the heart of Los Angeles. The Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County and the University of Southern California engaged in a research practice partnership to enhance place-based science learning through the design and iterative testing of potential AR exhibits. Results from one implementation show that AR technology increased visitor interest in the park and positive emotions around science content. Significant learning gains and decreases in science misconceptions also occurred for participants. We also give guidance on developing scientifically accurate assets for AR experiences and leading users through a virtual narrative. This presentation offers insights into museum and university partnerships for promoting public understanding of science in informal spaces by leveraging place-based learning through technology-enhanced engagement.
  3. Informal learning settings such as museums provide unique opportunities for educating a local community about sleep. However, in such settings, information must be capable of immediately inciting interest. We developed a series of sleep “icebreakers” (brief, informal facts) to determine whether they elicited interest in sleep and encouraged behavioural change. There were 859 participants across three cross-sectional samples: (a) members of the local museum; (b) Mechanical Turk workers who responded to a “sleep” study advertisement; and (c) Mechanical Turk workers who responded to a “various topics” study advertisement that did not mention sleep. All three samples demonstrated high interest in sleep topics, though delayed recall of the icebreakers was strongest in participants who expected to learn about the sleep topics. Icebreaker interest ratings were independent of age, gender and race/ethnicity, suggesting that sleep is a topic of universal interest. Importantly, regardless of demographics and sample, the more the icebreakers interested the participants, the more likely participants were to indicate willingness to donate to a sleep exhibit, change their sleep behaviours, and post to social media. Thus, sleep icebreakers can rapidly elicit people's interest, and future outreach efforts should couple icebreakers with opportunities for subsequent personalized learning.
  4. Participating in a research experience for undergraduates (REU) site provides opportunities for students to develop their research and technical skills, network with other REU students/professors, raise their awareness of graduate studies, and understand the social context of research. In support of this mission, our REU site at the University of Alabama is exploring research at the intersection of engineering and communicative disorders. Beyond research training though, an REU site provides the opportunity for professional development, social activities, and cultural activities to enrich the student experience. These are important features of an REU, which typically range from 9-10 weeks. Students that participate in summer REUs are recruited from around the country and are brought together at a central research site. Each student brings with them their unique perspectives and lived experiences. To form a cohesive cohort from the individual students, it is important to facilitate shared experiences early in their 9-10 week REU. Supporting the development of a student community through shared experiences has a significant impact on student perspectives of the program. Shared experiences also provide the opportunity to increase the students’ understanding of the new city/state/region that is the setting for the REU. The 2019 iteration of our REUmore »Site, which has a theme of developing technology to support clinical practice in the field of communicative sciences and disorders, aimed to increase the level of social and cultural activities of the cohort in comparison to previous REU sites on campus. This was achieved with multiple professional development, cultural, and social activities. For professional development, students participated in a Practicing Inclusive Engagement workshop to build skills for intercultural engagement that in turn foster a more inclusive REU cohort. Students participated in this workshop within the first three days of arriving on campus. This workshop focused on identity, inclusive language, and creative ways to invite and engage in diverse perspectives. For cultural activities, full-day field trips were taken to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL and The Legacy Museum / The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, AL. These trips engaged students in very different aspects of Alabama's history. One showcasing achievements of the U.S. space and rocket program and the other investigating the racial injustice in American history and its legacy. While many of the students were familiar with these histories, the museums and their compelling visuals and data-rich exhibits provided a far deeper insight into these topics and facilitated further conversation between the REU cohort. The REU cohort spent much of their summer learning with and from graduate students enrolled in the masters of speech-language pathology (SLP) program at the University of Alabama. At the end of the summer experience, a BBQ event was facilitated (food, yard games) to spur on friendly competition between REU and SLP students. This provided both groups an informal opportunity to debrief about the summer experiences. In this work an overview of the REU site will be provided with a focus on the logistical elements to pilot the social, cultural and professional development efforts, a summary of the student feedback from the written reflections and focus groups, experiences of the program coordinators, and future plans to refine and improve these elements will be presented.« less
  5. GPS accuracy is poor in indoor environments and around buildings. Thus, reading and following signs still remains the most common mechanism for providing and receiving wayfinding information in such spaces. This puts individuals who are blind or visually impaired (BVI) at a great disadvantage. This work designs, implements, and evaluates a wayfinding system and smartphone application called CityGuide that can be used by BVI individuals to navigate their surroundings beyond what is possible with just a GPS-based system. CityGuide enables an individual to query and get turn-by-turn shortest route directions from an indoor location to an outdoor location. CityGuide leverages recently developed indoor wayfinding solutions in conjunction with GPS signals to provide a seamless indoor-outdoor navigation and wayfinding system that guides a BVI individual to their desired destination through the shortest route. Evaluations of CityGuide with BVI human subjects navigating between an indoor starting point to an outdoor destination within an unfamiliar university campus scenario showed it to be effective in reducing end-to-end navigation times and distances of almost all participants.