1° WEBINAR – Training Module – How technology can improve visitors with disabilities experience

1° WEBINAR – Training Module  – How technology can improve visitors with disabilities experience

I’m on behalf of Tooteko, my role in the company is co-founder, as well as CEO. So, how technology can change the way we think of ‘disability’, and the way we actually towards disability is the focus of this presentation.
Technology improves the visitors experience of cultural institutions, such as museums and cultural sites, not only by making physical accessibility possible but also by working on the type of experience that the disable visitors make. We have to consider that visually impaired and
blind people cannot access cultural heritage in a proper way, almost all over
the world, and barriers that are not only infrastructure but also mindset saprovore, depriving them from true social inclusion. Despite the recent
progress, social inclusion still a chimera and several cultural heritage
organizations and entities are struggling to offer innovative solutions
for including vulnerable targets into their exhibition path. We also have
to consider that not all disabilities are the same, while it is strict forward that people with limited mobility are allowed by law to access
almost everywhere anyplace, there is still a grace margin of improvement for
visually impaired people because, in fact, they can physically reach cultural sites
but the content and are still not accessible for them. In this case,
accessibility is to be intended more in terms of autonomy, in the sense of having
the possibility of visiting a cultural site, even without the presence of a
specialised guide. Very few sites have such a service, and often only in
determined days and hours of the day, but the blind people valued the possibility
of visiting a museum with a family and their friends, sharing the space and time
of the visit. So, to summarise, everything that moves away from the concept of a
Museum of replicas for the blind is a step towards to inclusion and was the idea
of the Museum for all. So in the first part of this
presentation, we will go through a series of recent technologies that demonstrate
how huge the impact can be for disabled people in terms of participation in
everyday activities. In the second and third part we’ll go through our
technology, Tooteko, how it works and we will an example. And finally, we will introduce
our collaborator, Deborah, she is a visually impaired person who works with us. These are the learning objectives and
the learning outcomes of this webinar. So, know the ecosystem of technologies
designed for the accessibility of special audiences and discover the world
of technology at the service of disability are the first two points will
go through immediately. In the second moment, we’ll discover Tooteko
technology. What I would like to highlight, when we review the different
technological solutions and the service of disability, is that Tooteko, alike these
technologies, is usable by all and is configured as an example of ‘Design for
all’. As learning outcomes, we will be aware of disability and approach it with
awareness; we will know the functioning of Tooteko technology and will be able
to provide technical assistance and support to blind people. So, let’s start by seeing how
technologies are improving lives of disabled people going through a series
of examples. Research in recent decades has offered new solutions to problems once unsurpassed shortening the gap between the world of disability and
technology. Technological solutions are very often focused on a specific problem
or disability, excluding any other field of application or extension. It is also
true, however, that technology is created and designed for the disabled to have
been universally adopted by all, just think of the straw, the trolley, or the
potato peeler. The focus of ‘Design for all’ is the design of a universally valid
systems, because what works for a disabled person certainly works for
everyone. The following are examples of three innovative technologies aimed at
the social inclusion of people with sensory disabilities, but not ‘Design
for all’. So, ‘IntendiME’ is a system that, thanks to a special plate, is able
to detect any sound that occurs inside a house and alert the user directly on the
bracelet, making it vibrate and illuminates and indicating in the
display the sound source detected. We’ll see a video showing how it works. We saw now a solution that can make
anyone with hearing problems feel more independence and safe. Next example of a
technology is ‘Be My eyes’. ‘Be My Eyes’ is an app based
on volunteers who read or describe in real time for blind people. Let’s see
again, in more detail, how it works. You might wonder how blind people deal with
everyday challenges. Well, normally the answer is simple, they are not that different from you. We play music. We go to school. We go to work. You get the picture. But sometimes the simplest things can be difficult and we need a pair of eyes. That’s where you come in. Through your smartphone ‘Be My Eyes’ connects the blind with sighted people through a live video connection. Simply choose if you need help or want to help by the click of a button. You can help just by installing the ‘Be My Eyes’ app and we will notify you and someone needs your help.
And if you’re in the middle of something, don’t worry, someone else will step in. So, would you care to ‘Be My Eyes’? The last example of technology that
will see is ‘dbGLOVE’. ‘dbGLOVE’ has been created by Nicolas, a scientist and the man who will you see in the video is his own father who became deaft and blind in old age. Have you ever thought about living with deaf-blindness? People who are deaf and blind at the same time experienced a unique condition of isolation Touch can express much more than no one even imagine, sensations need stories and feelings. Blind and deafblind individuals use starch-based languages to communicate with others and only a few are able to understand them. This is why we invented a big glove; an interactive device for the niggling blind and deafblind people to achieve autonomous communication with others supports everyday tasks, interaction with the world and independent living. The dbGLOVE consists of wearable pair to be worn by blind or deafblind on the left hand. This is an input and output multi-touch interface based on Milazzo Alphabet, a very easy language if it is already employed in the deafblind community. The dgGLOVE connects via Bluetooth to smartphones, tablets, PCs into any Bluetooth enabled computer. Users typing sensors that supports in Braille display. Messages are visualized in this play to interact with other people, or they can control applications. Replies and feedback I received through vibrations simulating touch keys on the hand. Powerful, portable, wearable, always connected and extensible, thanks to smartphone applications that enable controlling appliances getting access to the Internet, learning and receiving guidance in the environment, while moving autonomously, we started using research to provide blind and deafblind people with the best assistive technology with the best user experience ever. Studies show that dbGLOVE is twice as accurate and fast then Braille display and 12 times cheaper. Now, we need you to turn the light on the dbGLOVE and let the world know about how our technology can improve people’s lives”. As we said, and as we just saw, technological
solutions are very often focused on a specific problem or disability and
excluding any other field of application or extension. We just saw three
examples that address either deaf or blind or deaf and blind people changing
dramatically their quality of life. The focus of ‘Design for All’ is a design
universe of universally valid systems because what works for a disabled person
certainly works for everyone. Tooteko is deeply rooted in this principle, as we
will see in a moment. The starting point is that visually impaired cannot access
cultural heritage in a proper way, almost all over the world. So, the point of Tooteko is that it puts together ‘touch’ and hearing in such a way that both hands
can explore the object at the same time while the related audio content is being
received by the person that is exploring the surface. Tooteko is a smart wearable
device that combines “touch” an “hearing” to help the visually impaired to visualize
objects they couldn’t experience otherwise. We enable blind people to
perceive the world and it’s simple: you touch the object, while you hear the
audio track, listening to a voice description. So, this is a Tactile
Surface. It can be the original work of art, as in this case, when it’s possible,
or or even a replica. Ths surface has NFC tags embedded or simply applied, on
the top. During the tactile exploration, the NFC tags are triggered
by the ring – this is ring. The ring detects and reads the NFC tags and sends
a command, in Wi-Fi mode, to the smart device. The smart device, via a smart
phone an iPad or an audio guide, receives the command from the ring and plays an
audio track, describing the exact point that is being touched, in that moment. We
will see a short video explaining works. Now we will see examples of how Tooteko technology has been applied. We will see
three examples. In the first case, Tooteko is applied on the original piece of art.
On the second case, Tooteko is applied on tactile maps. On the third case, Tooteko
is applied on replicas. Concerning the work on the originals,
Tooteko uses small sensors that can be applied directly on the originals
(or on their supports). This way, it is possible to touch directly the original
works of art and get an audio feedback of what is touched. This is the case of
the ARA Pacis, in Rome. This project ‘Art For the Blind’ was held in ARA Pacis, in
Rome, in 2017. ‘Art For the Blind’ is a unique experimental project,
where visually impaired visitors can access the extraordinary
heritage of the museum and really get in touch with the mythical past of the city of
Rome. Thanks to Tooteko, the busts of the royal family each tell their story in first person evoked by tactile exploration through
the ring, and the model of the altar unveils it’s narrated figure after
figure, each tactile explorer proceeding at their own pace,
and he will see exactly the case of the figures of the statues. Here we see the visitors meeting the protagonists of the imperial family and each member of the
family tells his or her story in first person, in a very engaging way. As you
can easily understand it is a way of approaching the work of art is suitable for
everyone, especially children, and those who deal with the idea of culture of. Second example is Tooteko applied on Tactile Maps So, Tooteko can convert
existing tactile maps into speaking models. This obviously is cheaper and
it is possible to produce a schematic reproductions of works of art containing tactile content, combined with audio information. This was the case of the ‘VIBE Project’, that was itinerant. First in Siena, then in Cork and Zagrabria. VIBE, Voyage Inside a Blind Experience, has the aim of creating a model for a temporary art
exhibition that can be reproduced and that will have an equal interest, both
for seeing and for visually impaired individuals. So, again, the ‘Design for All’
principle. The artistic project was born from a collaboration between Tooteko and Atlante Servizi Culturali, with the support of the American institutions The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation. Tooteko technology makes the abstract works of Josef and Anni Albers explorable, using experimental method that can be applied
to various needs. So, in this case, flats drawings, some paintings have been made tactile by translating them into
three-dimensional models. This is picture in the middle. Again, it is evident how the whole package can be experienced by all kind of publics. The third example of Tooteko applications is use on reproductions. So, here, with the use of 3d scanning and 3d printing it is possible to reproduce faithfully, with no
contact, any work of art. The reproduction in this case is a scale one to one is equipped with sensors that are able to activate the audio information required
for the multi-sensory experience. This was the case applied to some works of art of the museum of Massa Marritima. This was the Massa Marritima Archeological museum, who selected two of the most important pieces of its collection: the stele, was first picture, on previously no, it is the one you are seeing right now, and Eracle Callinico. Tooteko provided the scanning and the
3d printing of the two relics The stele and the Eracle are part of a multi-sensorial exhibit, accessible to all that will grow in the next years with new acquisitions. So, when the piece of art is either fragile, or to large, or for any other reason not adequate for being touched, the high
fidelity replica is a solution. The objects can be enlarge, reduced and
details can be highlighted in the ways and the possibility of touching
manufactured are normally under glass gives a different point of view on what
art is, and to our relationship with it She is Deborah Tramentozzi, our collaborator. She is a very inspiring blind girl
who loves arts and she was called to participate in a TedTalk, after which that was a standing innovation hub. So, this is the video of her speech but,
unfortunately, for the moment, it’s only in Italian. So, I’ll leave it for those
who understand Italian to listen to it and watch it. It’s really worth. To end this webinar, I would like to give some guidelines for welcoming visually
impaired in cultural sites. First thing is that most blind and visually impaired people move with their companions, family, friends. In the event that the blind or
visually impaired visitor enters independently, it is advisable to follow
a few simple steps. So, first, to observe the visitor and understand if he is a person
inclined to be helped or to be autonomous. Offer your support at the
ticket office and in the hall, always with friendliness and without weighing a
presence. Avoid gestural and verbal attitudes that may underline disability.
Inside the museum there may be obstacles that could be dangerous for users. So,
take special care to avoid dangerous situations for visitors. Last, not all
visually impaired move with a stick. Deborah, for example, does not. Neither with a guide dog or with black sunglasses. Many visually impaired people are autonomous and self-sufficient, learning to recognize them is essencial to avoid running into unpleasant gaffes.

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