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Audio Journal – empowering visually impaired people to access exhibits at the Worcester Museum of Art

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In 2022 the Worcester Art Museum (WAM) hosted an exhibition with tactile sculptures for those with visual impairments while also analyzing practices for making the museum more accessible. However, in most cases, traditional exhibits do not support blind or low-vision guests, allowing the WAM to explore different methods of supporting these guests besides specialized exhibitions. One potential solution decided upon by the WAM was a mobile app that would be a useful accessibility tool for visually impaired persons (VIPs). To this end, the museum partnered with Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) to develop a mobile application to enhance the experience at the WAM for all types of VIPs. The Worcester Art Museum App aims to empower visually impaired people to access all art pieces and exhibits in the WAM. One of the main goals is to produce an application for all users, widely accessible to the public, and to accomplish this, the app was developed using React Native. React Native allows for development on dual platforms, Android and iOS, allowing the app to reach a larger audience while also taking advantage of built-in accessibility features. The major features of the app included the ability to have the phone read out UI options present on the screen, read out audio files, use modified touch gestures to navigate the screen, the ability to customize the app color palette and give the user the option to control the app with their voice. The long-term goal of the WPI team was to work with the museum to add physical alterations to the exhibit to improve accessibility and integration with the app, most notably in the form of NFC tags and QR codes. By providing supplemental information about the museum’s exhibit art pieces through text and audio descriptions, the role of the application is to expand access to exhibits to people with visual impairments.

  • This report represents the work of one or more WPI undergraduate students submitted to the faculty as evidence of completion of a degree requirement. WPI routinely publishes these reports on its website without editorial or peer review.
  • 104446
  • E-project-042323-204448
  • 2023
Date created
  • 2023-04-23
Resource type
  • E-project-042323-204448
Rights statement
Last modified
  • 2023-06-22


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