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3D-printing tactile

Mars 2020 Perseverance and finding 3-D models

This morning I streamed the Mars 2020 Perseverance launch on NASA TV. Just after lift off, they asked one of the scientists to explain the equipment that was attached to the rover, and she pointed out the drilling arm on a 3D-printed replica. Naturally, I wondered how the public, and especially blind people, might be able to get their hands on such a replica.

I collect links to online repositories that store the computer files necessary to produce 3D-printed replicas, so I directed my browser to NASA’s list of printable models.

I sorted the models alphabetically by name and I found the M2020 Model Rover Perseverance. This page includes links to download the print-ready .STL files and assembly directions to create a model of the Perseverance rover.

The NASA repository also includes files for a small helicopter called Ingenuity that is attached to the Perseverance  rover.  It will be flown on MARS sometime after landing in February 2021.

I’m glad that NASA made files available so that anyone with access to a 3-D printer can produce replicas. I realize that not every blind person, or member of the public generally, has access to a 3D printer, and that may be the subject of a future post.

Categories
accessibility exhibits publications

Redefine/ABLE

Redefine/ABLE

During the 2019-2020 academic year, I consulted with the 2020 University of Maryland, College Park graphic design cohort that researched and created an exhibit about disability, ableism, and the benefits of universal design. Ableism is the discrimination against those with disabilities. Universal design counteracts ableism. Universal design is an approach to creating systems, spaces and objects that meet the needs of all people.

Originally designed as a multi-site, cross-platform exhibition, due to the COVID-19 pandemic Redefine/ABLE: Challenging Inaccessibility is now an online experience that addresses diversity, inclusion and ableism. It seeks to engage audiences about the successes and challenges of persons with disabilities in Maryland and beyond.

The Covid-19 pandemic became a discussion topic for this exhibit. The project director and I wrote this essay examining the effects of post-pandemic responses on people with disabilities.

We also submitted this Q&A to another University of Maryland blog.

Additional content will be added to the Redefine/ABLE project website during July and August 2020. It will remain online after that date. I would like to thank the project team for their dedication to this project and their determination to display it virtually.

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3D-printing accessibility exhibits publications tactile

Creating Re-Usable Tactile Handouts

I’m pleased to announce publication of a guest post on the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) blog about creating tactile handouts. Special thanks go out to my co-authors, Ann Cunningham and Matt Gesualdi, for their contributions.

The COVID-19 pandemic is creating new norms that discourage touching all manner of objects to curtail the spread of the virus. However, when public spaces reopen, understandable concern about disease transmission may lead museums to prohibit tactile exploration of objects, creating an unintended access barrier for people who are blind. We imagine a scenario where visitors could borrow tactile handouts, use them for reference as they tour an exhibit, and then return them to the museum for treatment and later re-use.

Read more on the AAM website.

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accessibility

Planning Accessible Virtual Events

In the time that we have been at home to limit the spread of covid-19, I have attended three online conferences, presented in a webinar, and had numerous zoom calls. Even as we re-open, I expect online meetings to continue to be common. I am sharing resources with information on planning virtual events that are accessible to people with disabilities. This list of helpful links was prepared by Robin Marquis, an Accessibility in the Arts Consultant who works in Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Resources

Rooted Rights: How to Make Your Virtual Meetings and Events Accessible to the Disability Community

National Endowment for the Arts: Resources to Help Ensure Accessibility for your Virtual Events for People with Disabilities

https://www.arts.gov/accessibility/accessibility-resources/resources-to-help-ensure-accessibility-for-your-virtual-events-for-people-with-disabilities

Cooper Hewitt Guidelines for Image Description

https://www.cooperhewitt.org/cooper-hewitt-guidelines-for-image-description/

National Center on Disability and Journalism: Disability Language Style Guide (available in Spanish and English)

We presented this Online Inclusion Webinar for the Peale Center for Baltimore History and Architecture. The video is near the bottom of this events page under the heading for online lectures and webinars.

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accessibility publications research

Attitudes of Blind People About Museums

In 2018, my colleague, Don Winiecki, and I conducted an online survey that collected data about the museum experiences of adults who are blind or have low vision. We document strategies that survey participants employ to gain information about the content of exhibits despite facing access barriers to their participation. Strategies can be characterized as either in-sourcing (using resources provided by museums, or out-sourcing (gathering information from sources not provided by the museum, for example a sighted companion or third-party accessibility application on a personal device). I presented a paper about the survey results at MW20.

Categories
accessibility exhibits publications research

museum information on cell phones

The smartphones that many of us use daily have the ability to receive content about museum exhibits. People who are blind or have low vision can use their preferred accessibility settings on their personal devices to access content in museum exhibits. I presented work on this topic at the MW20 conference. Here is the link to my paper.

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about

What is MuseumSenses?

MuseumSenses is a product of my unique experience as an archaeologist and museum professional who also happens to be blind. While conducting my doctoral research on variation in stone projectile points, (spear tips), I became familiar with the behind-the-scenes of museums where research occurs. In these research areas, careful handling of artifacts is expected. I would investigate artifacts by touch while my sighted colleagues primarily relied upon their vision.

Contrast the openness of research settings with public areas of museums where artifacts are generally inaccessible to me because they are kept in display cases where they can only be seen. Over the years, I have had conversations with blind people who express frustrations with the inaccessibility of museum exhibits. Most blind people, and sighted people for that matter, will only experience the public areas of museums. They will not feel the excitement of examining artifacts in a laboratory setting.

I relish the opportunity to create multisensory experiences for both blind and sighted people. For example, my colleagues and I designed a prototype of a traveling exhibit containing 3-D printed replicas of stone projectile points found at archaeological sites. Then we attached QR-codes to the replicas that, when scanned with a smartphone, opened a webpage with more information about that artifact.

Similarly, I helped to organize a multisensory art exhibit that ran in Baltimore during June and July 2019. The Art displayed in the “Ways of Seeing” exhibition included paintings, sculpture, wood carving, and works comprised of mixed media. Artworks were designed to be experienced through all five senses, primarily sight and touch. About 375 people attended the show and associated programming. The organizing team expected to receive positive feedback from blind people, but we were pleasantly surprised to learn that sighted people also enjoyed touching the art.

I can leverage my research skills and my lived-experience as a blind person to develop exhibits that are accessible to both blind and sighted audiences. My work includes:

*Conducting research about the attitudes of blind people towards museums using surveys to quantify participant responses.

*exploring responses of sighted people when they encounter multisensory exhibits

*Developing innovative accessibility solutions that convey information in tactile and audio formats enabling blind people to participate more fully in the offerings of museums and other cultural organizations.

*Promoting the development of inclusive content that can be experienced by mixed groups of blind and sighted people.

Future posts on MuseumSenses will describe my work. I also intend to highlight the work of other organizations when it promotes the integration of blind and sighted audiences at the same exhibit or program.