On November 26th we participated in MUSEAC, the first Accessible Museums Conference organized by the Spanish Subtitle and Audiodescription Centre (CESyA), the Royal Board on Disability and the Carlos III University of Madrid, with the Naval Museum, Casa de América, FCYT and GVAM as collaborators.
Among the different speakers from public and private entities, our Communication and Content Responsible, Marta García-Muñoz, talked about the importance of sharing culture with others and how GVAM helps museums offer experiences for people with different abilities. Later on, she would reveal the surprise we had prepared for the guests: an immersive accessible experience through interactive guides.
About the immersive activity
We prepared a secret interactive experience for the guests… but we were the ones taken by surprise when we saw how they enjoyed it and shared it!
The activity’s details were kept in secret until its very beginning. The guests entered the Casa de América library where they found 3 wood easels covered with a piece of black cloth and multiple chairs around them. Right before entering, each guest received a tablet and headphones. They still were unaware of the main goal of the activity: enjoying art without relying on their sight.
First of all, we taught the guests to use the mobile device from the start because we had activated the TalkBack feature: a screen reader for people with visual disabilities. Once they understood the basic movements a blind person makes when using a tablet, we handed them blindfolds to cover their eyes and continue the experience using their other senses. There were a few visually and hearing impaired people in the room and the last could enjoy the experience by activating the subtitles on the interactive guide.
With GVAM’s assistance, each guest was able to activate the audiodescription of one of the works on their mobile device. With the blindfolds still on, we invited them to enjoy the sound experience. Then, we revealed the works, removed the blindfolds and asked the participants to approach the work they thought they had heard on the audiodescription to exchange opinions with everyone else.
In the participants’ shoes
Everyone, with or without sensory disabilities, enjoyed experimenting art as a visually impaired person would and, above all, were thankful to share it with others. This was Irene González’s view, who works at FIAPAS, the Spanish Confederation of Families of Deaf people:
“My name is Irene and I work at FIAPAS. The experience at the workshop has been great. It’s always good to stand close and empathize with other people’s needs to understand them better and being able to work with higher criteria, if possible. So, yes, I liked it very much”.
The chosen art works and the collaborating museums
The three chosen art works belong to three museums that currently offer accessible experiences to their visitors: Lázaro Galdiano Museum, one of the first institutions that developed with GVAM an interactive guide with subtitles, audiodescription and sign language; Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, which currently offers GVAM guides with subtitles and sign language in 4 languages; and Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, that is part of the “Paseo del Arte Essential Art Walk”, with 8 works and their audio and text descriptions.
The main goal of the activity was to invite the guests to put themselves in visually impaired people’s shoes and to enjoy a visit to a Museum the way they do, aided by technology.
Through this experience, we wanted to prove that only with accessible measures we can share culture with others and discover new points of view.
This is why we invite all institutions to make their experiences accessible through technology so that more and more people can enjoy culture! If you want to listen to the audios of this immersive activity, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.