People who are blind or vision impaired rarely visit Australian art galleries and institutions because they do not expect the works to be accessible, while institutions offer few deliberate invitations to vision impaired visitors because they are not aware of the potential interest or how to meet it.
As part of a broader initiative to improve the accessibility of the Bendigo Art Gallery, gallery staff have teamed up with Monash University’s SensiLab to create accessible versions of some of the most beloved pieces from their permanent collection. A range of technologies are being explored, including 3D printing, 3D modelling and scanning, laser cutting, touch screen technology and accessible web content, along with more traditional tactile graphics and verbal descriptions. A ‘Value Sensitive Design’ approach is being used to ensure the needs of all stakeholders, such as vision impaired patrons, gallery staff and artists, are being considered.
A collection of accessible works has been developed. These are being shared with vision impaired visitors to explore what techniques can be used to provide access to visual art that cannot be touched and whether accessible versions of visual art are meaningful and valuable to people with a vision impairment.
This research is ongoing.