W4A 2019
Conference paper

An independent and interactive museum experience for blind people

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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.