While at the 2019 Round Table Conference in Brisbane, a group of attendees (touch readers, family members and accessible format producers) took a short excursion to explore the accessible maps of the museum district in South Bank.
We found several wall-mounted print/braille maps along with a large table-top model, located on the Grey street side of the State Library. It was wonderful to experience these inclusive accessibility measures in public spaces.
Do you know of any similar maps or models in your area? Please let us know!
The Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show took place at the Carlton Gardens from Wednesday 27 to Sunday 31 March 2019. Guide Dogs Victoria partnered with Kangan Institute and Bendigo TAFE to sponsor the Rob Waddell Show Garden and host their own sensory garden, featuring scented plants, auditory cues, beacons and braille. As an added tool for accessibility and inclusion, researchers from Monash University’s Inclusive Technology group created 3D printed maps of the Carlton gardens, the Rob Waddell Show Garden and the Guide Dogs Victoria sensory garden. Visitors who were blind or have low vision were able to use the maps to gain a better understanding of their surroundings.
MPavilion is an annual architectural commission in Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Gardens, opposite the Arts Centre. As part of their STEM series, we were excited to be invited to run a free public workshop on using eTextiles to create interactive accessible story books pages. Creating Tactile Stories was presented by Leona Holloway, Kirsten Ellis from Monash University and Louise Curtin from Feelix Children’s Library.
In celebration of Braille Literacy Month, we talked about the importance of early, engaging tactile experiences as the first step towards (tactile) literacy for blind children. We then learned how to use eTextiles to sew a simple circuit with lights or buzzers, which we embedded in our handcrafted tactile story book page. We were delighted to see so many beautiful, creative and ingenious designs.
With the holiday season around the corner, we had another reason to celebrate this week. PhD candidate Anuradha Madugalla has been working on the automated conversion of house floor plans to accessible formats: a written description, tactile graphic and interactive GraVVITAS diagram with audio labels on the iPad. Her work has resulted in two major publications:
Madugalla, A., Marriott, K. & Marinai, S. (2017). Partitioning Open Plan Areas in Floor Plans. 2017 14th IAPR International Conference on Document Analysis and Recognition (ICDAR).
Goncu, C., Madugalla, A., Marinai, S. & Marriott, K. (2015). Accessible On-Line Floor Plans. WWW ’15 Proceedings of the 24th International Conference on World Wide Web.
Anuradha has submitted her thesis and is looking forward to a well-deserved break before pursuing work goals. We wish her all the very best.
Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) is a key strategic direction for computing research at Monash. Building upon pre-existing strengths in interactive data visualisation and creative computing, over the last two years CHIC has been actively recruiting leading researchers with the aim of positioning Monash as a leader in HCI research. CHIC’s world-class research facilities include AR/VR labs and SensiLab, a multi-million dollar interdisciplinary research space for innovation, digital design and fabrication.
CHIC researchers have strong links to national disability support organisations, and have a track record in partnering with them to develop innovative technologies that support people with disabilities as well as their families and educators. We wish to build on this and create one of the world’s top inclusive technologies research centres. As a first step, we are hiring two leading early- to mid-career researchers to spearhead our research.
In the next phase of our project with Bendigo Art Gallery, we had the pleasure of exploring ideas for accessible art with the Gallery and vision impaired communities.
In a day-long workshop, gallery staff, artists and community members came together to talk about why accessible art is important, who it impacts, and the best ways to make it happen.
At a special tour, vision impaired visitors were treated to a guided tour featuring four artworks in Bendigo Art Gallery’s permanent collection. Alongside vivid audio description of the artworks, visitors were able to touch the sculptures and an old frame, take the role of a character from a painting with representative props, and explore
Accessible trial web pages were also produced to enable more independent exploration of a range of paintings and sculptures. Each page included a visual description of the artwork, information about the artwork, enlarged and high contrast images, and a soundscape related to the subject matter or period.
Watch this space for announcements regarding publications reporting our research findings.
DemoLAB is a creative tech demo night co-hosted by Media Lab Melbourne and ACMI. Participants are invited to come along to share ideas and projects over pizza.
As part of Melbourne Design Week, we will be speaking at DemoLAB about our work creating innovative accessible objects for the vision impaired community using emerging low cost technologies. Registration is free.
Date: Tuesday 20 March 2018
Location: ACMI X, 2 Kavanagh street, South Melbourne