NPM unveils new services for blind, visually impaired visitors

Taipei City-based National Palace Museum launched June 6 a series of new services to help blind and visually impaired visitors explore the institution's expansive collection of classical Chinese artworks and artifacts.

The offerings include two specially designed audio guides, one providing detailed descriptions of 36 selected exhibits and another to accompany the 13-minute 3-D animated film Adventure in the NPM, which introduces prominent objects in the museum's collection by transforming them into living characters.

Other new services include Braille museum maps and guidebooks. NPM has also introduced a range of tactile aids, comprising 3-D models, raised images and reproductions, to give visually challenged visitors a clearer understanding of its famed antiquities.

Blind and visually impaired visitors can now also rent specialized interactive audio tour devices featuring technologies such as VoiceOver, software that reads on-screen content. The new audio and technology services are available in Mandarin, with NPM planning to introduce English-language options in the future.

To ensure the services meet the needs of visitors, NPM assembled a team of education experts and visually challenged teachers and students to consult on the audio guides and help refine user experiences.

Huang Shu-yun, who is visually impaired and authored the new guides, said that the content employs clear descriptions so that users can create vivid mental images of highlighted artifacts and artworks. NPM also invited Hsiao Huang-chi, an award-winning Taiwan singer who is visually impaired, to record the introduction to the guides.

Established in 1965, NPM is home to the world's largest collection of Chinese imperial art, boasting 650,000 antiquities spanning 7,000 years from the prehistoric Neolithic period to the end of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911).

In recent years, the institution has employed a range of cutting-edge multimedia technologies to boost public engagement. A successful example in this regard is the iPalace Channel, a multimedia e-learning platform that enhances the experiences of visitors to the website and enables them to learn more about various exhibitions staged by the museum.

Source: Taiwan Today