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Title: Enhancing the museum experience for visually impaired people in Hong Kong : haptic-audio interaction design (HAID)
Authors: Chan, Meng Kheong
Degree: Ph.D.
Issue Date: 2017
Abstract: How can Hong Kong museums enhance the experiences of their visually impaired visitors? Visually impaired individuals face major challenges in visually oriented environments such as museums. With this in mind, in-depth field observations and interviews at the 11 major museums in Hong Kong were conducted. Proposed case studies with pilot testing and interviews were also conducted to investigate the effectiveness of a touch-activated sound system that could be adopted in museum environments. This proposed conceptual system integrated exhibit information into tactile diagrams that could be easily accessed by visually impaired individuals. The study aimed to gather information that would help visually impaired and blind individuals to understand and construct mental images of two-dimensional exhibits. The main goal was to create a conceptual tactile-audio paper prototype using the cross-modal interaction approach (a combination of tactile diagrams and audio descriptions) that could provide multisensory feedback to the visually impaired and enable them to 'see' the museum exhibits without having to touch the original exhibits. The results of the conceptual tactile-audio paper prototype indicated that the cross-modalities interaction approach has great potential for helping the visually impaired construct clearer mental images. The key findings and recommendations are presented in this thesis, along with the characteristics of interactivity of the visually impaired participants in this study. These findings should be used in the future to develop a haptic-audio interaction design museum platform.
In this study, a qualitative research approach was adopted with case studies that focused on the cross-modal interaction design to assess how multisensory feedback could be provided to visually impaired visitors, construct clearer mental images of exhibits and thus enable meaningful museum experiences. First, the literature and documents were reviewed to obtain an in-depth understanding of previous works relating to this study and investigate how museums understand and perform their roles in supporting visually impaired visitors. The findings of various studies and projects showed that museum environments, exhibitions and programmes still fail to consider the actual wants and needs of visually impaired visitors. Second, in-depth field observations and interviews with major museums in Hong Kong revealed that the visually impaired are a little-noticed segment of the museum audience and are offered few basic facilities and resources to aid their mobility and access to information about museum exhibits. Third, semi-structured interviews using open-ended questions were conducted with visually impaired participants. The participants were asked about their viewpoints on, feelings about and understanding of subjects that could be personal and subjective. A pilot study found that many visually impaired individuals in Hong Kong were reluctant to visit museums because they felt excluded. Fourth, a second pilot study was conducted using another set of semistructured interview questions. The selected visually impaired participants took part in tests of three medium-fidelity conceptual tactile paper prototypes that were supported by audio descriptions. The prototypes simulated the effect of multisensory feedback to investigate the effectiveness of touch-activated sound systems that integrated exhibit information with tactile diagrams. The participants were asked to draw the mental images they constructed during the tests to evaluate the effectiveness of the integrated platform. They were indeed able to capture some of the visual elements of the exhibits. The results of the case studies demonstrated an understanding of the value of tactual and audio interpretation of the visual information of museum exhibits as an accessible medium for visually impaired visitors. They also revealed that dialogue between the visually impaired and museums could be enhanced by paying special attention to museum exhibits through the proposed cross-modal approach, i.e., the haptic-audio interaction design (HAID) system, and by rethinking and shifting the current perspective on an inclusive museum experience to enhance that experience for the visually impaired. Access to visual information about museum exhibits is crucial for visually impaired visitors, who need to construct mental images of exhibits that are detailed enough to make them feel their museum experience is worthwhile and meaningful.
Subjects: Museums and people with visual disabilities -- China -- Hong Kong.
Museum techniques.
Museum exhibits.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Pages: xviii, 217 pages : color illustrations
Appears in Collections:Thesis

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