Touch and Multi-sensory Experiences: Developing Safe and Inclusive Practices During Covid-19

Safety, Comfort, and Inclusion: We Choose All Building off 2019’s MCN session Multi-Sensory Design Towards Inclusion and Access, Sina Bahram and Corey Timpson examine and surface the details related to ensuring rich inclusion and access for onsite and remote audiences, given the world we now find ourselves in. Ensuring safe, comfortable, sustainable, and equitable experience design requires a multifaceted approach across several operational touch points. This session examines intention, design, execution, management, and maintenance across the museum enterprise, focusing on strategic objectives and practical tactics for sustainable solutions. Accessible Touch Objects Currently, the majority of museum and historic site experiences are visual and lack tactile alternatives for visitors. In this session we describe our efforts to better understand the challenges and opportunities for sustaining and expanding tactile objects in museums through conducting interviews with 15 museum access specialists from museums ranging in size and location. We discuss the responses from six accessibility experts who identified as blind or low vision to the museums current practices. From our findings, we identify and describe seven different types of touch objects currently being used at museums, which is the most inclusive and descriptive taxonomy to date. We discuss their design processes, trade-offs, usefulness, and value compared to audio and virtual tours. Finally, we share design recommendations for museum practitioners: 1) preserving touch experiences during COVID--19, urgently called for by BLV accessibility experts, 2) considering three additional touch object categories from an interview with a BLV accessibility expert not previously used or mentioned by the museum access specialists, 3) avoiding a one size fits all solution and offer visitors the opportunity to personalize the content and modality of touch objects. Our findings illustrate the diversity and importance of touch interactions in creating accessible educational experiences. A part of MCN 2020 VIRTUAL


Unknown Speaker 00:00
Welcome, everyone, we're I guess we're gonna dive into things.

Unknown Speaker 00:03
We will basically have our two presentations, you know, 20 minute presentation, another 20 minute presentation, then 20 minutes for question and answer. We really want to get into the discussion as much as possible. So without, you know, any more preface than that we'll get into things. And Sina. Why don't you start? Hi, everybody. My name is Sina Bahram. I'm the principal at prime access consulting. And together with Corey, I very much enjoy working on inclusive design and accessibility across the cultural sector. It's great to be here virtually with everybody.

Unknown Speaker 00:40
And I'm Corey Timpson. And if you don't know me, I'm a consultant who works in the museum field, I've been working in the field since 2000, I was the project director for the startup and design build of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. And in the last three years, Sina and I have been working in partnership with a number of different clients.

Unknown Speaker 01:01
In Asia, North America and Europe, looking at multi sensory experience design through our inclusive design and accessibility methodology. The presentation that we're giving today is sort of a follow up, not sort of is very much a follow up to last year's presentation that we gave on multi sensory experience design and the surfacing of inclusive design and accessibility affordances within the scenarios of multi sensory design. So obviously, this year has been a bit of a different year than any of us were expecting. So we thought it was really important that we looked at what we had discussed last year session in San Diego, and figured out you know, what does that mean in today's reality? So that's what we're going to get into, can I just get a verbal confirmation that my slide is shared? And that someone saw it switch? Yes, Cory, it's advancing. Thank you. So a few slides, just as a bit of a recap, from last year. And to ensure that, you know, we're all on the same page going forward, we really think about our approach to inclusive design and accessibility as this ethos. This is, in a nutshell, what our methodology is. And the idea here is, whether we're designing an exhibition or working on the design of an exhibition, or a public program, or an educational program or an event, or we're writing a policy or developing something operational, we really think about what are the vectors of human difference? And how do we accommodate all of those vectors at the outset, rather than design and develop something and then figure out later down our development path that we have to try and make it accessible, or change it. And that's the scenario where I was trying to avoid, there are very practical implications around cost, and budget and schedule and all of these things, but really around compromising what our intentions are. And that's what we want to avoid. So just as a recap, when we're talking through our examples coming up, this is our ethos, consider consideration of all vectors of human difference.

Unknown Speaker 03:07
We also think about the ecosystem of which each and every one of us is a part of so in today's day and age, people exist within both physical and digital spaces concurrently, everyone's walking around, or the vast majority of people with a mobile device in their pocket that holds more computing power than all of NASA had in 1969. And that is an important asset for us to think about, when we're thinking about what that experience design is, what the expectations of our visitors are, what our audience is expecting, and to not have that as being just a fundamental principle, you know, would set us up to be, you know, somewhere between ineffective to inefficient. So we must consider both of these spaces and not do that in isolation, but think of them as a true ecosystem.

Unknown Speaker 03:53
The premise that we start from with any of our work is that we have intentions as designers, as developers, as musicologist. As museum professionals, we have these intentions, our audience also has intentions. And when those intentions don't line up when they're mismatched, that's when we create barriers. So we want to resolve any mismatch that may happen between what our intentions are as museum professionals, as people who are designing, developing creating experiences for others, and what the expectations are of those people coming in. We can do a whole deck and presentation on front end evaluation and what that means and how inclusive design and accessibility fits into that. But the principle idea here is to recognize that this is our premise. And to keep this front of mind, the characteristics of our approach. And again, if you want to see examples of these, like go back and check out last year's deck, we're not going to sort of re go through all those things. But when we thinking about what we're doing, the characteristics that are common amongst the projects we work on are mixed interaction design scenarios, analog and digital blends. stylistic variety immersion multiple

Unknown Speaker 05:00
sensory affordances and multiple modalities of delivery. And last years Dec gets really into the weeds on these things. But the idea here is that we want to have as many opportunities for entry into content and experience as possible for as many people as possible. And these characteristics demonstrate that this is the consistency that we, you know, strive for. The outcomes of our approach, though, our accessibility interoperability with systems and exhibition kits, scalability, deeper and broader engagement across different audience demographics, and a greater return on investment, or the strategic or performance indicators of the organization. These are all outcomes. And I think the important point to highlight here is that our approaches and inclusive design methodology, and accessibility is an outcome of that approach, along with these other outcomes,

Unknown Speaker 05:53
entering 2020 and the pandemic, so then the the pandemic hits, right, and I think we have a few things that we're all very much concerned with, with respect to the new world, the new normal that we find ourselves in, you know, first is around transmission, right? Just being being safe, making sure that we're really considering how that works. Within environments, there's a lot of concern around touch, for example, and also social distancing, and how to do this in a in a safe manner, right. But also, there's comfort, right, not only the comfort of the visitor, and feeling comfortable feeling safe to come to the museum, perhaps in smaller groups, or as things are relaxed in terms of quarantine, etc, but also the comfort of the staff, the comfort of the organization to provide this safe environment. Now, when we're considering these two things, it's also important to move to sustainability, right? Like, are we doing things that are going to be sustainable during this effort, whether it is mitigations, whether it is, for example, how we are treating touch and other affordances. But then also, are we making smart and deliberate decisions right now that it won't cost us a lot a year from now, two years from now, three years from now. And this is really important, because what we don't want to do is take excessive actions right now, that then will cost us a great deal to get back to baseline a few years into the future. Unless we barriers, right in thinking about the mitigations that we're putting in place thinking about the policies that we're following, thinking about the ways that we're reacting to the pandemic, we want to be very conscious that there are steps that need to be taken to preserve safety, sustainability and comfort. But also, we don't wish to do so in such a way that just further introduces barriers and obstacles to inclusion and access. So what are some, you know, what does success look like when we talk about these mitigations. And for us, success looks like a combination of solutions. It's not just one tactic. It's not just social distancing. It's not just closing everything down. We really view this as a multifaceted and deliberate and considered approach. So we believe that the solution to ensuring inclusive access, it honestly has not changed a lot of the things we've been talking about, or very much similar to what we now have to do for the pandemic, somebody may not be able to touch something. And before it might have been because of the difference of ability. Now it's because we're all in that group for safety considerations. Inclusive Design still delivers on these very important objectives. So let's take a look at some some simple interventions that we thought were pretty interesting right now. So the first one is these, these silences are stylized, I suppose as the plural, where you can actually a touchscreen or capacitive touch display but do so without touching it with your your hands. There's various forms of these, we just have a photo of one of them on the screen now, which is one made from recycled paper, and they're pretty inexpensive. I believe they're 15 cents each up but there's reusable ones that can also be sanitized as well. The next one are these finger cots. So there are these covers for your finger by way of visual description. It basically looks like a finger condom, for lack of a better description of what that is. And it covers your finger but allows you to still actuate a touchscreen while minimizing spread. Again, these exists in both digital and both reusable and sanitized double and also disposable manners and the photo that we see here is someone actually eating a touchscreen an iPhone with these finger cots on their thumbs. And then Leslie it's human interaction, right? And Cory is fond of very much quoting that the most, you know, most interactivity and most interactive experience you'll ever have is a conversation and we funded

Unknown Speaker 10:00
Until we believe that humans are at the heart of the practice, that's what we do. And so not only taking advantage of this in terms of having a staff be mitigations, for actuating, touchscreens or modifying the display, but also in terms of providing that level of access. So making sure that we rely on those soft tactics where people can provide these accessibility affordances as well.

Unknown Speaker 10:30
Continuing on, you know, you would have noted in our, in our presentation last year, or over the years, this idea of mobile integration, and you know, back to that digital, physical, coexisting concurrent spheres of interactivity within the ecosystem, you know, the idea of integrating the mobile device into the digital landscape within your programming provides a great opportunity to get around some of the, you know, hurdles that we have to achieve right now. So this idea of mobile integration, not quite the same as porting to mobile. But certainly, that's another opportunity, you know, the use of, of HTML or web technology and galleries at kiosks and stuff like that, you know, is it a, is it a big leap to move that stuff to mobile device? Or is it a short step, you know, these things can be considered if there is, you know, intellectual property or licensing issues around content such that it can only be presented in the gallery? Well, that can be geo fenced, you know, through the use of the of the the museum, Wi Fi, etc. So, mobile integration provides a substantial amount of affordances, just in general, but certainly of increased relevance in today's scenario. And just

Unknown Speaker 11:48
Just a quick note, the call to consequences of technology exists on people's mobile devices. So there's also an opportunity for enhancing inclusion with respectable

Unknown Speaker 11:57
Yeah, I should describe the screenshot here is from an exhibition that we produced, whereby visitors were taking in a large, you know, physical installation, and we created a reflection wall for this installation, which was called the witness blanket. This was both available on iPads in gallery as well as online, so the remote audience could participate. And the aggregation of responses by in gallery and online participants allowed this dialogue to take place and be projected on the wall and gallery as well as on a website. So in this case, you know, if that installation was being presented right now, you know, just removing the iPads from in gallery and ensuring that people understood they could use their mobile device in the same fashion would get around, you know, that ability, and it would be all accessible. Given the adaptive technology in the mobile device. Mobile controllers are another asset. So this is a company called pre touch, that allows the mobile device to be used basically, as a mouse. It doesn't require an app, you can look them up, and you know that they're one of many products like this. But these are things that could be explored as well, that would mitigate against some of the issues. I think this is less of mitigation, more of just a please do this, please surface this information on your website, featuring the Corning Museum of Glass here because they have a pretty extensive amount of information about what visitors can expect. So just in terms of general inclusive design practices, you will hear Sina and I speaking all the time about please surface information on the website to manage expectations before people get on site. Here, there, they've done that, with that little we're open keeping everyone safe is our idea of a class act. When you click that button, you are brought to a section of the website that literally details everything that they're doing, what the expectations are, as you arrive, and also what the expectations are of the museum on the part of the visitors to norm, you know, wear masks and social distance, etc. So, you know, please surface this information as prominently, as you can.

Unknown Speaker 14:05
And then we have some examples of guff. Yeah, I was just yeah, we have some examples now that we want to show that really follow our approach to inclusive design and accessibility. And, you know, the kicker on these is that, you know, they seem even more relevant today than when we first worked on these projects. Yeah, exactly. I mean, for example, the Warhol example that we're showing now we've talked about before with respect to tactile reproductions, but the thing to note is that the material that these are made out of was actually specifically designed to be geometrically inert and felt a lot but also easy to disinfect. It's, it's called asset Hall. And the idea there is that the audio descriptions, the visual descriptions, the scripts for all of those folks prefer to read it in text versus audio. All of that is surfaced on the mobile device, and you don't even actually have to be at the physical reality.

Unknown Speaker 15:00
reduction, but you can be. And then we can use those same mitigations that we talked about earlier, such as someone coming by and disinfecting the surface, so that it can still be an inclusive experience. And you can use your mobile device to access that information. Of course.

Unknown Speaker 15:19
Another example is, we used augmented reality,

Unknown Speaker 15:24
for artifact exploration. So we had these pianos which were in conditioned environment, in an artifact case behind the loss under low lighting condition with a microclimate machine, providing the environmental control. And we wanted to provide both supplemental information but also make the artifact more accessible. So we developed an iOS app for iOS, which image recognized the artifact and allowed visitors the opportunity to explore the details of the artifact in well in greater detail, and, but also to be able to have the content accessible through text to speech. So in this case, we were all Oh, and

Unknown Speaker 16:07
yeah, sorry, in this case, not only does the opportunity provide greater access to, you know, the visitors that are in the gallery, but it provides remote access as well, and really provides the multi sensory affordances that we're talking about. So rather than something just being a visual, you know, experience, it's now also an audio experience as well.

Unknown Speaker 16:35
And then, finally, this was the last exhibition that I produced at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights before leaving there, it was on Nelson Mandela. And what you see in the background of the image is a collection of picket signs with protest posters on them. Three of those protest posters are actually blanks. And there's project projection that's masked, that allows people to create their own posters and add them to the composition of that installation. And we developed it specifically through an iOS app, in order to leverage the accessibility components of the iOS. So while you could participate in gallery by producing your own poster, you can also go online and you can do this right now the exhibition is being presented in Texas, right now. You could go and create your own poster through it's actually a responsive website, it's not even an app, you can see posters for is the URL, and you can have your poster projected in gallery within that setting. But the intention here was originally to make it as accessible as possible and make the experience inclusive. And we're talking about accessibility not only about ability and disability, but in terms of remote audience engagement, as well as on site audience. So this is just another one where, you know, if you wanted to not have this touchscreen running in the gallery, then you could simply have people using their mobile devices.

Unknown Speaker 18:02
So concluding with a few final thoughts. The first one is that, you know, as we've we've said, for a long while now, inclusive, multi sensory design, May, you know, except it says affordances, that may be critical for one audience, but they're argumentative, they are assistive, they are inclusive, they are helpful for many audiences. That is that is really the point of all of this, right. And so when we consider the ecosystem, there's a multitude of tactics that can be applied across all of these facets that can both be inclusive, and not introduce barriers, but also keep people safe.

Unknown Speaker 18:42
You know, the pandemic has caused a great deal of disruption, I think that's a pretty fair statement to make. But one of the outputs of this disruption is a rather forced broad adoption and increase in digital literacy and our usage of these of these modalities. So what we want to do is we don't want to lose these wins, right? We're doing things like visual description towards over zoom, we're seeing sign language, content being promoted over digital platforms, these are amazing wins that we don't want to lose track of when we do go back. Because, you know, while there's been a great deal of negative effects, and I think we're all unfortunately deeply familiar with those, there have been a few wins in terms of access that we don't want to lose. And Leslie, you know, we've been doing this all along when we think of inclusive design and accessibility, and we think about considering this entire vector of human difference. There are people who cannot touch there are people who cannot see there are people who may not be able to use the stairs, either permanently or that day. Well, some of us are now in a group that we didn't find ourselves in. Right. Some of us are now a lot of us are in a group where we can't touch things. But if we're following an inclusive design methodology, we're already addressing that we're already perfect.

Unknown Speaker 20:00
cramming for that we're already budgeting for that. And so just a reminder for all of us that inclusive design is not just about access, but it is really about all of these things so that when something like a pandemic hits, we're able to pivot in an appropriate way, because we've already taken those considerations at heart and into, you know, into into our, into our policies.

Unknown Speaker 20:23
And then I think we'll turn it over to Lauren. And then we'll do group questions at the end. Okay, great. Thanks, Tina. Okay, I'm going to share my screen and then core, I'm going to ask you for a verbal confirmation that it's advancing to.

Unknown Speaker 20:39
Great. Thanks, everybody. Cheryl, do you want to start by introducing yourself?

Unknown Speaker 20:45
Your One moment, I am. Okay.

Unknown Speaker 20:50
I am an independent scholar and I research and develop multi sensory museum experiences that are accessible to everyone regardless of their visual acuity. I earned my PhD in anthropology from the University of New Mexico, and museum collections were essential for that work. I noticed some diversity issues as I went through my education and completion of my degree. And so consequently, I also mentor and teach high school students in science programs run by the National Federation of the Blind.

Unknown Speaker 21:27
Great, thanks, Cheryl. Hi, everybody. My name is Lauren Race. I'm an accessibility designer and researcher at the NYU ability project. So the NYU ability project is an interdisciplinary research space dedicated to the intersection of technology and disability, and I work in the design lab there. So what I do is I design and evaluate accessible educational tools in formal and informal settings. My current research is partnering with the intrepid Museum in New York City to develop more accessible museum experiences, funded by an IMLS grant. I have my BFA in communications design with a minor in art history from Pratt Institute. And I also have my master's from NYU interactive telecommunications program, otherwise known as ITP, which is a very strange little interactive tech and art program. Um, so today, Cheryl and I are going to be talking about designing, producing and preserving accessible touch objects for museums.

Unknown Speaker 22:28
So Cory, did my slide advance? Yep, you're good. Great. Okay, thanks. Okay, cool. So But first, I really want to talk about the motivation for this work. You know, at the ability project, we do a lot of these little research studies, but it's always best to kind of define what that problem area is first. So, you know, we all learn through multimodal sensing, I know Sina kind of mentioned that earlier, some of us learn best through sight. Some of us learn best through hearing, and some of us learn best through tactile exploration or touch. Yet unfortunately, a lot of information at museums and historic sites is presented visually. And museums are leaders in large scale information presentation. Yet, we found a statistic from the National Endowment of the Arts that said that less than 7% of Americans with disabilities, including adults who are blind or low vision, visited museums in 2015. And so these spaces are supported by federal and state funding, and the buildings must meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. But the ADA requirements mostly addressed physical accessibility challenges. So you know, it's common for artifacts to be kept under glass or roped off or displayed next to a Do not touch sign, making exams less accessible. So some information can be accessed digitally with like kiosks or mobile devices, but only if those experiences are designed to be inclusive. When museums do offer tactile experiences they commonly use are what are called touch objects. So touch objects for those who are new to them are artifacts that are rendered tactile through interpretation. And they can be on like the low fidelity end of the spectrum where their content and production are further away from accurately representing an original artifact. Or they can be on the high fidelity end of the spectrum where their content and production is closer to accurately representing an original artifact. So these touch objects are critical to museums. And so for accessibility, we need to be considering all senses when presenting information at them, including touch. So the images on this slide show a relief sculpture of 13 women holding pottery and is displayed behind glass at the obey Museum in China. And a sign on the table in the museum gallery reads please do not touch Thank you. And in the background is a dark green wall displaying paintings.

Unknown Speaker 25:01
Unfortunately, there are some looming threats to touch objects. There were already budget cuts to accessibility programming before COVID. Not to mention, there's this growing trend where we're leaning towards representing content digitally, and COVID has only accelerated these issues. You know, some museums have responded to COVID by closing hands on exhibits with tactile components for safety reasons. You know, for example, the please touch Museum in Philadelphia extended its closure well into 2021.

Unknown Speaker 25:35
The problem with this is by eliminating tactile experiences, we exclude an entire population of people who learn best through touch. So I urge folks today to keep thinking about tactile experiences in museums, even as we lean towards making things digital. So the image on this slide shows three women standing around a large bronze sculpture in a museum wearing latex gloves and touching its structure.

Unknown Speaker 26:03
So knowing that touch objects were threatened, we wanted to conduct research to figure out which were worth saving in the future, you know, with which are worth spending the most time and money on if we're going to save a group of them. So we investigated this problem through the lens of art museums and historic sites, where touch experiences are particularly fragile and have low adoption rates. And we considered, we conducted interviews with 15 Museum access specialists across the United States. And when we discovered that all of them identified as sighted, we considered their answers with six accessibility experts who identified as blind or low vision.

Unknown Speaker 26:42
And our interviews with the 15 sighted museum access professionals and the opinions of the six accessibility experts who identified as blind or low vision led to four findings. So the first finding is that tactile experiences must be preserved. Those some experts preferred some type of touch to touch objects more than others, they didn't want any of them to disappear. One of the accessibility experts told us quote, I just want there to be more more opportunities to touch objects, and it's always been an uphill struggle and quote, The second finding is that they should be consistently created. So given the detailed guidelines for creating accessible exhibit design at places like the Smithsonian, and the history of tactile graphic design guidelines, with organizations like the Braille authority of North America, we were really surprised to find a lack of design guidelines for touch objects. While some of this work is done by experts, we were also surprised how many touch objects are created by interns with limited accessibility or fabrication experience. These interns are working without any guidelines, and they frequently create touch objects that are not discernible to visitors, yet are still included in touch tours.

Unknown Speaker 28:02
The third finding is that they read infant tile when DIY or poorly crafted, so poorly crafted touch objects create inequity for visitors who are blind or low vision who are paying the same admission price as sighted visitors to interact with objects that feel less valuable. One of the blind or low vision accessibility experts quoted a client's first reaction to their DIY touch objects. Quote, Wow, this is great looking at all the touch touchable, hear things here for kids and quote. And then finally, the fourth finding was that they cannot be replaced by audio using verbal description or digital only solutions. So touchless experiences like listening to audio of a verbal description are received secondhand, so they're filtered through the biases of whoever described that artifact. Description can enhance tactile experiences, and they often do, but it's still not a replacement for touch. One of the accessibility experts told us quote, We walked around the gallery and a docent described paintings, and my comment was, I might as well have stayed home and quote, the images on this slide show different types of touch objects commonly used by museums. The first one is a miniature touch object made with gold foil of a modern sculpture. The sculpture is comprised of interlocking segments of circles that extend out to create a 3d shape. The second image shows a gallery patron standing before a wooden bowl and a kiosk, reaching their left arm out to touch the rim while holding a white cane in their right hand. Third image shows a museum access professional holding a small purchase model of an airplane for a visitor to touch. The model is red, white and blue with a star emblem near the nose of the airplane. And then the fourth image shows a visitor interacting with found material sample of a carpet tile that has a ribbed structure and the fibers are composed, composed primarily of cashmere goat hair. The fifth image shows a visitor touching a period

Unknown Speaker 30:00
To tactile graphic of a wrought iron screen depicting a muse of the violin, and the gold plated figure, the center stands on rolling hills while concentric rings and rectangular shapes surround the scene. And then finally, the last image shows a museum visitor holding a four inch wide 3d print of a T rex skull with its mouth open baring its teeth. And it's cream colored, and it's made of plastic.

Unknown Speaker 30:24
So now I want to turn it over to Cheryl Fogle-Hatch, who's going to be taking you through our recommendations for museums based on our findings.

Unknown Speaker 30:34
Thank you very much, Lauren. So today I'm going to talk about ways to preserve tactile access in spite of COVID I will highlight my other projects and many of these support Laurens interview findings. People are probably problem solving in the moment, when the pandemic began, I had ongoing conversations with tactile artists about ways to safeguard tactile access to colleagues and Cunningham and magische welding and myself, identified specific examples drawn from our work that we present proposed as models for safe practices during the COVID pandemic. We wrote a blog post about this for the American alliance of museums that is linked to this slide. I will summarize with this quote about it. Quote, 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 museums for treatment and later reviews, unquote. So this slide shows examples of the handouts at small scale and large scale.

Unknown Speaker 31:44
At small scale, the 3d printed replica of a stone spearpoint can be manipulated with one hand. The attached wooden coin is a QR code that when scanned directs a smartphone to read more information about it, such as the might be found on an exhibit label. little quick background these are artifacts from from the Maryland archaeological and conservation laboratory. The QR code coin is printed on a sticker the wooden coin is added so that it is easily findable lanyard keeps the coins attached to the artifact replica. I was concerned about losing the information. You know as as these artifact replicas are handled. So that's the background there.

Unknown Speaker 32:35
at larger scale, people can be encouraged to maintain physical distance as they explore separate tactile panels. This idea is loosely based on interactive art installation, titled mission to natera. Created by Matt Jeju Lt. That's the other panel handout on the slide here. So Matt incorporated use of antibacterial wipes into the exhibit as the storyline. The storyline is that the puzzles are alien artifacts that must be protected from human germs. So as he explained the process to me, the visitors entered the theater auditorium. They got the storyline on their way to the puzzle room, they were handed a wipe and they wiped and then they entered. So it controlled the flow and it control the sanitation of the exhibit. With volume of people coming through. This is Denver Maker Faire 2018. And the link to the blog on the slide shows a link out to a piece about that. Next slide please.

Unknown Speaker 33:41
So going to recommendations, we recommend digital fabrication methods such as 3d printing over poorly designed handcrafted techniques. This slide shows the full set of 3d printed replica stone sphere points from the study prototype design that I mentioned last. Returning to Lauren's interview findings, it is our opinion that digital fabrications are preferred for the accuracy of tactile reproductions. This is contrast it with the analog nature of most poorly designed tactile objects. And I stepped back from Warren's interview findings one more time to offer one comment about handcrafted objects. In my experience, there are a few highly skilled tactile artists such as my colleagues and and Matt who can create tactile excuse me accurate tactile reproductions. We'll see what the captions do with that, using handcrafted techniques. These individuals

Unknown Speaker 34:46
carefully plan and construct their work very carefully, and they account for scale and accuracy. with questions of five fidelity in mind, we ranked different techniques for cost and accuracy in our aim blog posts.

Unknown Speaker 35:00
mentioned on the last slide.

Unknown Speaker 35:02
Another recommendation due to COVID and safety concerns, we recommend fabricating touch objects from materials that can withstand frequent cleaning. This would favor the acrylic resin used to fabricate the 3d replicas pictured here. However, if I were producing the replica now, I might replace the leather lanyard with a plastic material that can be wiped down if desired.

Unknown Speaker 35:30
Next slide, please.

Unknown Speaker 35:33
Fortunately, my colleagues and I are not the only people seeking ways to safely conduct tactile exploration. Here, we linked to an international example, tactile studio, developed a sanitation station for touch objects. I am encouraged by these proposed solutions, because the work to preserve tactile access in museum exhibits is ongoing. And there's a link to that post. Next slide, please. So finally, if you want more, because we went through this very quickly, you may connect with us, follow me on twitter at Fogle-Hatch. And Lauren at Lauren Race, or you may check out our websites museum is mine. And I have links there to the blog post and some other publications. And if you go to Lauren, Race calm, you get the full version of the paper with with the details. And it's quite good reading. So thank you very much, and we'll take questions.

Unknown Speaker 36:34
Thanks, Cheryl. Thanks, everybody.

Unknown Speaker 36:38
Um, so to the team, we have a couple questions already in the q&a window. And there is a bit of chat that I tried to keep up with, while we're all doing the presentations. So maybe just the first question was from kailyn. What would you suggest for a museum gallery that exhibits almost exclusively paper, textual or photographic materials to provide tactile experiences,

Unknown Speaker 37:08
I guess we could just take that as a panel.

Unknown Speaker 37:11
Anyone wants to kick things off?

Unknown Speaker 37:15
I'll mention one thing I suppose, for paper products, it depends on how they are produced and what digital resources you have, from their creation, if their original works that have not been digitized, there's one set of solutions versus another. But there are machines, for example, in one of the exhibits that Corey actually mentioned in our talk, one of the activities was a a thermoform machine, essentially, where you can take a paper product. And if you reproduce it, you can then run it through the machine, and it will turn it into a capital reproduction. So basically, what happens is it swells the ink up. And that is just you know, that's one approach. There's other approaches as well, but just putting that one out there.

Unknown Speaker 38:03
Yeah, I actually didn't mention that one. And we talked about that one last year. And

Unknown Speaker 38:08
yeah, I would also say, too, I think it really depends in terms of the photographic material. You know, we showed the Warhol example, I believe, in last year's presentation, we talked about the tactel, audio described images that we produced for four different exhibitions at the Human Rights Museum at this point. Now,

Unknown Speaker 38:26
there is a little bit of talk, I think, in the chat about 3d printing. Any of the materials we used, I think it's important to note, we're not 3d printed. There, they're using a different technology. And there was a question that I answered in the q&a window earlier about what that material was, it's also tall, so you can find that there. But that material can be disinfected and cleaned. And it doesn't have the same sort of tactile properties as 3d printing does so. And like more of like a sort of almost like, if you will, commercial grade of result that can be handled and dropped, you know, that kind of thing. So a little bit to do about that. I mean, one thing we didn't talk about this time, and all stop talking in two seconds is just the idea that, you know, surfacing information tactically, like don't fall down the rabbit hole of thinking that has to be a one to one as to how you consume something visually. So like, just keep in mind, we're talking about different modalities, and we want to map those modalities, but that doesn't mean that they just like a lineup, you know, as you might expect.

Unknown Speaker 39:38
I would like to address the 3d printing if I may.

Unknown Speaker 39:42
So 3d printing, I referenced it a lot because there are so many organizations that are putting up their digital models. With 3d printing your star, the physical artifact object, you scan it. With those with expertise, they come up with a digital 3d model.

Unknown Speaker 40:00
Which is fine. And a lot of people do that for their virtual tours on screen. But there's the third step to make a tactile, which means you've got to send it through an STL file and out to a printer. And I can't tell you how many times I find online, virtual, you know, somebody is linking to 3d models. And, you know, it would be nice to make the tactiles out. And I have another colleague who has been testing, adding digital information to these digital objects that the online courses are using, such that you can get your your information with your 3d printed replica, and I've got links online if you want to explore more about 3d printing resources.

Unknown Speaker 40:51
Um, maybe we'll move to the next question from Ali.

Unknown Speaker 40:55
I think, Lauren, this one's for you did the study address at all using real objects as touch objects, for example, in historic sites using common objects as touch objects, ie not having six butter churns in your collection? But five and one is a hands on teaching collection object? Yes. Hey, Alli. Yes, we did. That was one of the categories that we ended up with defining was original artifacts, and that was the most preferred by the accessibility experts who are blind or low vision, because they were interacting with something really authentic and, and really valuable. So So yes, absolutely. The only issue with the COVID situation is some of the objects couldn't handle the rubbing alcohol or couldn't handle those solvents. So in that case, we would recommend doing some type of digital fabrication as a replicate as a replication of that thing that was delicate.

Unknown Speaker 41:51
Um, I really like the the historic site example in the in the presentation again from last year, because we're building off without one, we did talk about a historic site project where during the restoration, there was a lot of sort of discarded material that was being restored or reproduced. And one of the things that we had the team do was keep that material so that we could turn that material into touch objects, you know, these original assets that may have been just, you know, recycled or or sent to a landfill actually became touch objects. That's a good idea.

Unknown Speaker 42:26
There's a question from Alison, how to handle a handcrafted tactile objects you do have on display, taking them out of our exhibit area would be a big loss to the narrative, but I'm pretty sure cleaning them daily, we're close right now would speed their deterioration?

Unknown Speaker 42:42
Yeah. So again, you know, we found that nobody wanted to get rid of touch objects, even if they were DIY, they were just ones that they preferred above others. One thing you could look at is doing some type of more durable reproduction of that handcrafted object. I know what tactile graphics you can do like vacuum forming is a really great way to replicate like hand collage things. And those are a little bit more durable and could withstand those type of solvents and chemicals. And you could also look at 3d printing a version of it as well, which could withhold much more traction and

Unknown Speaker 43:22
traffic from museum visitors.

Unknown Speaker 43:25
I think there's also an opportunity to win consider when we make reproductions specifically for touch that depending on what it is that our intentions are, again, and what we're expecting the learning outcomes to be, say, or the experiential outcomes for the visitor is we don't necessarily have to reproduce the object like in one to one scale or like the entirety of the object. So I think Human Rights Museum, there's a large installation called its matey beadwork, and it's called an octopus bag. It's the largest one in the world. And it's stunning, and it looks super tactical, and you know, people want to touch it, but by just creating like a swatch of the beadwork, and putting it in front of and saying like, you know, feel the beads on this, no one touches the off octopus bag anymore, you can produce like 1000s of those swatches for the price that it would be to reproduce like one of them at beadworks. But you know, what we're trying to surface is the bead texture in touch. And you can get that from, you know, the little piece and then describe the overall piece as well. So that idea of like mixing the modalities to create a more multi sensory and inclusive experience. That's Cory that's actually a really good solution to the material, the found material, because that was one of the lower rated tactile objects with our data. And we talked to interviewed folks, you know, they're like, Well, you know, I know what a flower feels like. I know that it only made sense. If it was something they don't normally get to touch outside of a museum. It was something from their home or something common. It wasn't as exciting. Somebody mentioned touching a moon rock as

Unknown Speaker 45:00
As a piece of material, but that's also kind of an artifact, too. But that was really exciting for them, because that was something they would travel to a museum to go visit. So I like the idea of augmenting these materials with description so that they're not just, you know, a lesser than, you know, interpretation of whatever the artifact is. And this, there is a blend between accuracy and scale, right. So when we, when we talk about not needing to reproduce at scale, it doesn't take the onus off of making sure that the the fidelity of the accuracy is true to the underlying material. In fact, in lots of places, this comes up a lot with tactile maps. If you do a one to one embossing of most visual maps, it is a to put it kindly, an unmitigated disaster tactfully. Right. It's incredibly noisy. It's incredibly dense, and a lot of the visual analogues. And this is I mean, there's reams of neuroscience literature written on this, they don't translate to touch. On the other hand, there's also tons of literature on how to actually produce goods act on maps. And so it's important to just preserve this design intent, and make sure we're using the modality in the way that is best for the result we're trying to achieve. Yes, you know, exactly. And that's why we were so surprised to find a lack of design guidelines for ketchup decks, because Bana are the Braille authority of North America has like the Bible of

Unknown Speaker 46:28
tactile graphic design guidelines. And even like Polly admins book on tactile graphics is a really fantastic resource. There's so many good tactile graphic resources. Yeah, but not just general touch objects. So I think it's a really exciting opportunity for practitioners to really look at kind of what the Smithsonian has done for guidelines, but applying those to other areas as well, such as touch objects. So good thing to look forward to in the future.

Unknown Speaker 46:54
Next question, of course.

Unknown Speaker 46:57
What about using some sort of hand coverings when interacting with original objects has this been done and what and with what results?

Unknown Speaker 47:09
Lauren, and I talk about this a lot, because anecdotally, we know what has happened, and it and I've been places where I've been asked to put on a light glove, and I do it to touch the sculpture. But we don't think there's a scientific study out there about the effectiveness of gloves, and different kinds of gloves. And that was amongst the informal conversations that I had this spring. Gloves kept coming up. But we ended up not publishing about gloves, because there's nothing out there. And we need to have a glove study, we need to have controlled numbers of objects, kinds of objects, kinds of gloves, and then conversations and some kind of rating system to get out there. Anecdotally, some of the accessibility experts, I know, say not to use gloves, and it is it could

Unknown Speaker 47:59
impede your your tactile exploration. But most folks that I know, and I know I've been of the opinion is if, if that's what's required, that's what I'll do, you know, to touch whatever object but Lauren, I've been saying we need to do glove study whenever we can get together in person again,

Unknown Speaker 48:16
there is there's science on this, right? I mean, like I you know, to be blunt about it, there is a there are decades of science on maximizing sensitivity through materials, they're called condoms, right? I mean, like, let's just like keep things real for a second, like there is actual science on this, right. And so your fingers are performing the same type of activity, you're trying to protect the skin barrier with the outside world, the media translation barrier, but you're trying to maximize sensitivity. So like there is there, I just want to echo that, that like there's this absence of studies, at least that I've been able to find as well on gloves. But also like there's this opportunity to really look at like advances in latex advances in like, you know, fabrics with because especially like you don't have to, you know, preserve all you know, different materials, different molecule sizes, you can maximize some sensitivity, while still preserving those oils from damaging the underlying.

Unknown Speaker 49:11
So I guess you're in on the gloves. So

Unknown Speaker 49:15
I am in on the gloves.

Unknown Speaker 49:17
Under the glove. That's true. All right. 2021.

Unknown Speaker 49:22
asked this

Unknown Speaker 49:26
question from Liz, is there a sense that people will be afraid to touch things no matter how useful will we be doing messaging,

Unknown Speaker 49:35
messaging and performative public and actual cleaning for some time? I mean, I think that we tried to surface this in the deck as about like comfort, you know, irrespective of science. You know, what are people just comfortable with? And so I do think there will be people who are afraid to touch things. I think, like there's a lot that can be done when we talked about human interaction and the human interface as well. When I go to the zoo.

Unknown Speaker 50:00
The market, it doesn't matter which one I go to, there's someone at the door who literally wipes down the shopping cart and gives it to me. They're doing that, like they're cleaning all the shopping carts, but they're doing that to show me that they're wiping down with disinfectant, the shopping cart. And I think like, that's kind of like what we get to with like surfacing information on the website to manage expectations, the demonstration of what you're doing can be just as important as the fact that you're doing it, just to address the comfort level of people. Yeah. Yeah, one of our experts said, I really liked this quote, it was something like sanitize the people, not the objects. And I really liked that as like, just like a more. I don't know, digestible way of approaching this. But I've since kind of shifted to do both, like sanitize the people and the objects. You know, like Corey said, like have have a visit, have somebody visibly wiping it down in front of somebody to make them feel comfortable. If they don't feel comfortable touching it. That's okay, too. It's all about understanding that, again, people are on a spectrum of preferences. And this is just happens to be one of those preferences.

Unknown Speaker 51:12
Formative hygiene.

Unknown Speaker 51:16

Unknown Speaker 51:19
is beautiful.

Unknown Speaker 51:22
So we probably have time for a couple more questions. There's a question from Andrea. Hi, Andrew. There are good practices. But not only these,

Unknown Speaker 51:33
there are good practices, but not only these often are not fully applied, but also intentionally ignored by some decision makers, any tips for museum professionals to negotiate accessibility layers to projects?

Unknown Speaker 51:47
I mean, this is a pretty big issue to deal with, I think all the time is, how do we find the salient points of relevancy of what we're talking about in doing based on the people we're speaking with. And, you know, Sina and I have very different conversations with the exhibition designers that we work with, than we do with the CFOs of large museums. And so, you know, I've told this story before about being on a panel with the CEO of Toyota at the International Association of universal design and hearing this guy talk about why universal design was so important Toyota, and realize had nothing to do with, you know, the good story, it had everything to do with shareholders. And so, you know, the salient point there was, if they are universal in their design methodology, they can sell more product to more people, and they can sell more product to the same people for longer in their lives. So they can increase their target market in breadth and depth. So wrote those notes down and then translated that into the cultural sector as a return on performance indicators, whether it's a visitation, repeat visitation, audience demographics, membership, its reach, all of these things can be increased through this approach. So that's the kind of conversation we have with CEOs, CFOs and some CEOs, but I think it's a kind of like a super important question you've asked, and there isn't one answer. It's like, really, I think the one answer would be find the point of relevancy. See, you can have an establish with the person, you're the audience hairdressing, and if you don't already have one at your institution, start a working group around accessibility and inclusive design. You know, you may be having lunch with yourself for the first immediate, and that is fine. All right, this is just absolutely how it starts. And you can get some colleagues to join the more pen institutional, the better get those folks from finance to come in. You know, we've done all sorts of tactics for this, whether it's like the MCA Chicago doing donuts for descriptions, and you know, spawning visual description projects that way, or whatever it is, have these conversations, but then also turn them into something that can eventually link into the governance structure of the museum. Because once you have a collection of people, even if it starts off, not with a very clear official mandate, it has a way of then hanging around. So really use that you know, the thing we all complain about institutional inertia, use that to your advantage when trying to promote accessibility from within.

Unknown Speaker 54:22
Yeah, and from the digital accessibility side, I do that as well. I always tell my teams look like if you don't have buy in from the sea level, folks. I'll motivate people by being like, Alright, let's make one goal for this round of iterations on this design. We're going to do amazing, like contextually relevant CTAs on our buttons on the website that's we're going to focus on, I'm going to do one thing at a time and then focus on those little those small wins. Because once people get that feeling of like that good feeling of Oh, we did something, this is good. You can build on that. So sometimes if you're like, trying to make a big jump into fully accessible, whatever you're making, it can be, you know, a little

Unknown Speaker 55:00
But just start small start small and work work bigger.

Unknown Speaker 55:08
There's no more questions in the queue. I didn't. It was tough to keep up on the chat. I noticed there was one comment about I think it was in the sort of topic area of vibra tactility, or haptics, and just say, I mean, this is another whole topic, certainly things that we like to think about in terms of, you know, expressing things through multiple modalities and for multiple modes and sensory perceptions.

Unknown Speaker 55:33
Absolutely vibro tactility can play a really big role, especially with like patterning, and, and mapping, you know, different sort of aspects to a design intent and an experiential intent to different patterns. That's this is a whole area that we can't give, you know, do justice to, you know, sensory perceptions like temperature. There's a couple exhibitions that we're working on right now where like the perception of temperature, or velocity or

Unknown Speaker 56:01
equilibrium are being played with and like that. Those are other sensory perceptions that we don't necessarily think about all the time.

Unknown Speaker 56:10
I will stop talking because there's one more question that just came in. I'm curious what collaboration software like zoom does for accessibility example, the chat feature? Yeah, so the chat is, it can be accessible. The quick rundown just in terms of time is Microsoft Teams and zoom can be reasonably used with a screen reader. There's been various advances, for example, now you can individually control all of the notifications. So if you're a screen reader user, like, for example, I happen to be, I don't have to hear all the messages coming in. When I'm giving my talk, I can, you know, you can control that in settings. Now, all of these platforms, it's critical to understand have their own accessibility challenges. So make sure when you're using them, use the accessible one, zoom, and Microsoft Teams are at the top of that list right now. And then reach out to your participants. But don't ask about ability. Ask about accommodations, right? Do you happen to be a screen reader user? Would an accessible version of the slides ahead of time help you? Do you benefit from captions, something like this, so that you can provide and facilitate an inclusive experience within that platform, so the platform is accessible, but the content on that platform also needs to be accessible, so shout out to MTN for doing the otter bass otter AI based captions for these.

Unknown Speaker 57:32
I will see there was one other question from Dave on the patent on vibrotactile. Did we did we answer your question or not? I just saw that in the chat.

Unknown Speaker 57:44
I gave like a really simple response. But Okay, got it happy to happy to geek out about Viper tacos.

Unknown Speaker 57:55
And if there's no more questions, we can I'll just draw everyone's attention till his knee Lee's comments about cocktails for captioning, which we think is a fantastic idea. Yes. And also that just a shout out to Liz because I since I first got into the museum field, Liz Neely has been in every single talk I have ever given. And it's just amazing to always see you around. So just thank you for always being such a supporter of inclusivity and accessibility. You're amazing. But also seen as she's in everybody's talks.

Unknown Speaker 58:29
You're not taking this from me.

Unknown Speaker 58:33
Thank you, everybody.

Unknown Speaker 58:36
Thanks, everybody. Thanks. Thank you, good MC and everyone. Bye bye.