In future, museums will mainly be places of human encounters. Lingusio is more than just an audio guide. Inclusively created content and an unconventional design promote a lively interaction regardless of knowledge or skills. The guide not only recognizes the right of people with disabilities to equally take part with others in cultural activities, but it has a profound impact on the entire museum: Lingusio offers the possibility to see artworks from a whole new perspective to regular visitors, experts, as well as new audience groups.
The innovative audio guide was developed in cooperation with experts in the fields both of museums and people with learning difficulties in order to create a new way to experience a museum visit.
CULTURAL PARTICIPATION INCLUSION & ACCESSIBILITY IN MUSEUMS
The project addresses the inclusion and accessibility of people with learning difficulties in Museums. As determined in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (United Nations), “States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to take part in an equal basis with others in cultural life”. Likewise accessibility is a crucial part of the concept and also regularized by law. The regulations apply not only to physical barriers, but also to those with regard to content and mediation.
The project aims to make content more accessible for people with learning difficulties. Moreover, it opens it to a broader public and therefore provides future business ideas for museums in general.
Lingusio is a hardware device that enables the simple and understandable dissemination of content not only for people with learning difficulties but all visitors. The formal difference to an ordinary audio guide is obvious: it’s a scarf. The device features a barrier-free design and intuitive functions that represent a significant improvement over a regular audio guide. Formal and technical aspects of the product follow the principles of universal design.
Lingusio rests on the shoulders of the visitor like a scarf. One end of the device serves as a speaker, the other as volume control. A reader is located in the scarf and enables the automatic identification of the artwork within a certain radius. As soon as the speaker-part of the scarf is raised for listening, the corresponding track starts to play.
Above all, however, the design has a large impact on the handling and therefore also on the behaviour of users. Previously museum visitors were closed off permanently from their environment due to headphones. In contrast, the scarf enables an “open ear” and thus a more conscious perception of the environment.
People with learning difficulties not only have had direct input on the design of the device, but also on the content of the audio guides – making access to museum content simpler and easier for everyone.
In a co-creation workshop, people with learning difficulties and museum educators deal intensively with the artworks of a future exhibition. The aim is to gather three very different descriptions, opinions or ideas for each piece of art. These heterogeneous contents are then transferred to audio guides that are visually distinguished by three different colours.
IMPACT ON THE BEHAVIOR OF VISITORS
The aim of the special design in the shape of a scarf is to share the content with visitors wearing another color. The awareness that he or she might be listening to something else arouses curiosity and encourages people to talk. Lingusio therefore not merely transmit information and broaden perspective, but function primarily as a basis for discussion and facilitate encounters with other visitors.
GOAL AND IMPACT OF THE PROJECT
The goal of the project was to develop a product concept that introduces not only people with learning difficulties to the yet unknown and with numerous psychological barriers afflicted context of museums. The goal was to create something that promotes interaction between all visitors and therefore includes various people. Consequently, the information based on the research with a specific target group has a profound impact on the entire museum, including experts, regular visitors and new audience groups.
A significant personal development of the co-designers in the course of the project could be observed. The initial intimidation created by the museum halls disappeared. All participants were full of self-confidence, curiosity and drive. Having attended the workshop enabled them to move freely and express their opinion about the works in the exhibition.
The active involvement of people with learning difficulties in the development of contents, offers the opportunity to develop creative and intellectual potential – this encourages the participants and allows wide parts of society to partake in this project.
“The project proves that the removal of barriers for people with learning difficulties provides additional value for society as a whole. At the same time, is creates possibilities for innovative business ideas.”