Sensory immersion : multisensory resources for walk-in visitors with visual impairments or blindness at an art museum
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This qualitative case study focuses on multisensory resources for walk-in museum visitors with visual impairments or blindness. Currently, most accessibility initiatives in art museums for people with low to no vision are in the form of infrequent special programs, instead of existing as consistent inclusion. The researcher sought to examine the value and kind of multisensory resources that enable social involvement, emotional and intellectual stimulation, and independent exploration within museum spaces for visitors with low to no vision (Reich, Lindgren-Streicher, Beyer, Levent, Pursley, & Mesiti, 2011). In this three-part study, the researcher first observed people with visual impairments or blindness through an organization serving such needs. In addition, she interviewed five people about how museum professionals could be more inclusive to visitors with low to no vision and about how best to design multisensory resources. The researcher then created multisensory resources for two artworks at the Denver Art Museum. These resources engaged touch, smell, and hearing through the use of tactile graphics, scented handkerchiefs, verbal descriptions, art historical audio, music, and poetry. Finally, the researcher implemented the resources with five participants. The findings of this research indicate that various multisensory resources are beneficial (tactile graphics and audio resources), but navigation through the museum galleries was still an obstacle.