The Design Museum offers tailored touch tours designed for blind and visually impaired visitors. Tour leader, Andrew Mashigo, talks about the multi-sensory approach of these tours and how appealing to all the senses can bring collections to life.
The Design Museum’s touch tours are using new ways to bring the museum’s exhibitions to visitors with visually impairments. Providing for a group at risk of exclusion is not only our legal responsibility, it’s a great way of communicating our valuable collection to an even wider audience, so that people who are blind or visually impaired can enjoy the value of design to our society.
This is part of our commitment to increasing visitor engagement. It is a mistake to think that blind people are not interested in visiting museums. Many are avid visitors to museums and have an interest in design and objects.
The Multisensory approach
Traditional tours for people with visual impairments use the sense of touch as the predominant sense. We are now using a multi-sensory approach to communicate with our blind and visually impaired audience using the senses to enable users to have a richer experience. These tours involve participants in an engaging and insightful dialogue around the objects explored. I believe that interpretation should be about sharing and learning through exploration.
LUMO at the Design Museum
The first in our series of multi-sensory tours was titled Light, Sound and the Built Environment, and took place in July. We looked at how technology in the museum’s collection and current exhibitions explored the senses of light and sound, and how new technology has been used to improve our lives. Among the devices explored were LUMO, Leaf Light, Light Scores and Responsive Street Furniture.
LUMO works by reading the surface of a page and translates graphical data into tactile and sound feedback. It converts black lines into vibration and colours into sound tones. Each colour calibrates to a different sound pitch, allowing the blind person identify the various hues of colour.
Our visually impaired participants were very impressed with the use and functionalities of LUMO and are also aware that the device is still in development. LUMO is an affordable real-time solution which makes existing learning environments more inclusive, as well as enriching the interaction between blind and sighted students.
The next Multisensory Tour
The touch tours are programmed to run quarterly. Booking information is on the touch tours page of our website.