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Published: March 15, 2001.

Abstracts

Accessibility and New Technology in the Museum
Judith Kirk , Mathers Museum of World Cultures, USA
http://www.worldboard.org/about.html

Session: Accessibility

This paper will examine how the convergence of technologies such as positioning systems, mobile computing, and wireless connectivity may impact accessibility for museum visitors with disabilities. In addressing these issues the paper will describe the MUSEpad Project, a joint venture between Indiana University's Mathers Museum of World Cultures and Information in Place, Inc., a software development firm in Bloomington, Indiana.

The MUSEpad project team is designing, developing, and evaluating a mobile computing tool that will enable visitors with disabilities to customize and optimize their learning and leisure experiences in museums through the emerging technology of WorldBoard. WorldBoard utilizes wireless connectivity and positioning technologies to extend the capabilities of the World Wide Web by virtually attaching information and tools to specified locations.

The project partners have recently undertaken a six-month feasibility study funded by the National Institutes of Health. During this study, the researchers focused on four goals:

Creating user profiles via focus groups and visitor studies techniques addressing issues of mobility, dexterity, visual and auditory acuity, cognitive abilities and technology acceptance.

  • Developing customizable content, enabling users to set preferences and options
  • Undertaking pilot testing and usability testing to determine feasibility and key design issues
  • Investigating the development of an authoring tool, template, and guidelines for creating MUSEpad content.