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On January 13, 2010, we visited the ROM with a blind user (herein referred to as U1) to discuss what blind users look for in a museum experience, particularly about kiosk accessibility. Some direct questions from us are indicated in purple.

ROM lobby kiosk/interactive

alison and user standing next to large glass encased touch screen kiosk on first floor of the ROM

- Re: ROM lobby kiosk/interactive:
  - Doesn't give an idea of what's on there or what it contains, from a blind user's POV; nothing to indicate its function
  - Nothing to indicate its use: no borders, buttons, or any tangible physical pieces to indicate where the kiosk elements are
  - This kiosk is "useless to me [U1]"
  - Ideally there would be physical buttons, and even then, U1 would need to "hunt and peck"
  - There needs to be a logic of where and how to begin
    - Buttons or some other tactile element would be U1's starting point
    - Audio instructions of "start here, do this" would be helpful
  - <span style="color: #993366">How would you know what buttons do what?</span>
    - U1 would look for one button that stood out alone, and start by pressing that one
    - That lone button would possibly sit above or below all the others
    - Tactile elements on the button itself (embossments), such as a dot on the button (as on many 'F' and 'J' keys on keyboards, or the number '5' on a keypad) would help to indicate significance

ROM totem pole kiosk

- Re: ROM totem pole kiosk
  - This kiosk served just one function: playing a video, which was activated by selecting a language
  - Similarily "totally useless"
  - Content has audio commentary; this is useful
  - Physically, the kiosk is much smaller than the lobby kiosk--easier to feel the borders
  - Straightforward use, few options, makes it easy
    - Could have made this kiosk very easily blind-user accessible by having a raised button to activate it
    - Placing the buttons along the border of the kiosk display would have been good

ROM Schad Gallery kiosk

- Re: ROM Schad Gallery kiosk
  - This kiosk presented a multitude of videos, selectable via touch screen with a 4x5 grid of video thumbnails
  - How would we make this accessible?
    - Automated telephone system-like would be easy
    - Navigate through the videos with a numeric keypad
      - "For English, press 1. Pour le francais, appuillez sur le 2."
      - "For video on ____, press 1," etc.
    - Navigate through the videos via voice (again, a la automated telephone system)
    - Or, "For English, press the left switch", etc.
    - Audio instructions on how to navigate/use the system

General questions and notes

- <span style="color: #993366">What do you think of the iPhone model of touchscreen accessibility?</span>
  - "Not my first choice. I prefer buttons."
  - "I'm not a techie."
  - "But[, in the end,] could I make it work? Probably."

- <span style="color: #993366">What do you expect at the museum? What kind of museum experience do you look for?</span>
  - Expect very little; museums and galleries are unfriendly places most of the time [to blind visitors]
  - Some exceptions: museums that have a lot of old pioneer stuff; these museums tend to let you touch stuff
  - Why are most museums and galleries not great? Most of the stuff is behind glass cases
  - Lectures, movies, programs: this is a whole other peice of work
  - Ideally: would like to be able to touch everything; lectures don't rely so heavily on slides; art/sculpture classes are inclusive and allow blind visitors to participate
  - Having replicas of all the objects [to touch] would be really nice

- How do you connect with content, as a blind visitor?
  - With a really good, *detailed* explanation
  - Want to know about the backstory: what led the artist to... why was it made... what was the artist trying to convey...
  - Used to think paintings weren't a good medium for him; but U1's opinion changing on this: a good description goes a long way

- Re: audio wand experience (at different museums)
  - Want better coverage of pieces (at King Tut AGO exhibit, ~10% object coverage)
  - How did you know what code to enter into the wand?
    - Needed someone (e.g., attendant) to relay it to him
  - On entering code into wand: didn't get it right everytime
  - Could have just sat down (at the museum, at home) and just listen to what was on the wand
  - What's the difference between listening to the audio tour at the museum and at home?
    - Combination of the audio tour + the person or people U1's with creates the full experience
    - Attendant's description of the artifact means a lot (+ ability to ask attendant about the object); makes a big difference
    - Also, listening to conversations of nearby people allows U1 to piece together a good idea about the artifacts
    - Each component gives a difference piece of the puzzle: object label/card + audio tour + person/people

- How often, if ever, do you visit a museum without someone with you?
  - Almost never
  - Exceptions: special events, tours with docents
  - U1 spends a lot of time doing pre-visit planning, finding out if the museum is worthwhile to visit
  - In theory, should be able to just show up spontaneously and visit w/ a tour guide, but sometimes tour guide isn't available or the tour guide isn't good. Thus, not taking the chance to show up spontaneously. Need to plan a lot to maximize fulfillment.
  - Museum wayfinding via attendant

- What's reasonable for a blind user to expect from a museum visit?
  - Tactile tours
  - Audio descriptions
  - Docents that are good describers
  - Raised line drawings
  - Object replicas

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