Tenement Museum Accessibility Project

As part of a team of three, I built a digital companion and tactile floor map for visitors of the Tenement Museum who are low-vision, blind, or would prefer a different learning style. 

My team members were Shreiya Chowdhary and Manu Jain.

Role: Design research, prototyping, information architecture design, web development, and wayfinding design, and user testing.

 

Tools: Swellform Machine, Illustrator, WordPress.

Background

We worked on the Garment Shop, the last room of a historical apartment tour titled "Under One Roof" that features immigration stories of families who settled on the Lower East Side after World War II.

The room is interactive in that visitors can touch and watch or listen to interviews with garment workers. However, visitors who are low-vision or blind might find the room difficult to navigate and the interactives challenging to learn from due to missing audio or further context.

Deliverables

In response, we built two solutions:
 

  • An accessible tactile floor map using a Swellform machine that orients the visitor to the layout and contents of the room.
     

  • A digital companion on an iPad using VoiceOver (assistive technology by Apple software that describes webpages) that gives visitors two choices to engage with the room by either using Story Mode to sit in one location or Explore Mode to physically visit different locations in the room.

The digital companion also adds closed captions and audio captions to the museum's videos located throughout the room, giving visitors a more complete and richer experience.

These webpages meet the Web Consortium's Accessibility Guidelines, and were successfully tested alongside the tactile map during a live tour with visitors who are low-vision or blind.

We also built these tools to increase the capacity of the ongoing accessibility work of the Tenement Museum staff. The webpages are intentionally built using the museum's WordPress platform for easy repeatability and the tactile map uses software and hardware available to staff.

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