Guest Writer: Public Accessibility & Visitor Experience Tech

Guest Writer, Kirsty Lawie: ‘How to improve public accessibility and visitor experience with tech.’

As public spaces open up in-line with coronavirus legislation here are some ideas for how to use tech to make your business more accessible, interactive and engaging for visitors.

Interactive touch screens

When touch screens first arrived, the world was stunned. But tech has come a long way since plastic pens, re-calibration and thumping insensitive monitors. Now touchscreens are at the forefront of making information more readily available and many gallery and public spaces now have large interactive touch screen monitors to bring tactile learning to the masses.

For instance, Aberdeen Art Gallery uses large touch screens as digital canvases. Innovation is also changing not only the size but the shape of these technologies: for instance, the PufferTouch® range is a spherical touch screen display which allows users to interact with the information in front of them. This is a great tool for those guests to visualise and become hands on with the information.


Zoom Video Conferencing

Zoom became a household name during the covid pandemic, and it looks like it is here to stay. Local or regional events can now be enjoyed globally by guests who would otherwise have been unable to attend, beaming directly in to their homes. Not only does Zoom allow people to participate in global events from home, but how it incorporates tech solutions for disabled users. For example, event hosts can pin Sign Language Interpreters easily meaning they never leave the screen for those who need them. Zoom also offers integrated captions with plug-ins such as OtterAI providing timely automated captions with impressive accuracy. Zoom is a good choice when looking for conferencing software with accessibility in mind.

Audio Guides

These may sound very old fashioned, but the truth is that the days of tape recorders and clunky headphones are gone. Now, almost every visitor brings their own hardware and a simple QR code can give them access to an audio tour and transcript for your premises. You don’t even have to spend any money on fancy tech of software – just upload audio to free sites like YouTube or soundcloud for visitors to access.

This is great for outdoor spaces, museums & galleries, festivals – anywhere that you’ve got guests moving around and eager to learn! Providing audio and written guides as well humans is a great option for disabled people and those who speak different languages, allowing even more people to enjoy and interact easily. A great example was Halloween 2020 when Aberdeen Charity Befriend A Child launched a fundraising campaign selling tickets to an audio ghost tour to allow for socially distanced zero contact ghost tours around the city. Attendees were sent a link to a private soundcloud playlist to listen to through their own devices. A simple, effective, tech-based solution.

Mobile Tech Integrations

Another example of both accessible tech, but also covid-friendly tech is the use of mobile devices as part of wider exhibitions. Companies like are creating deeper engagement by using smart technology to deliver personalised experiences. What does that mean? Touchless interaction can be achieved using your own device, personal profiles can be created as you enter an event and content is shared directly to you on your mobile; it can even be used to trigger engagement pre, during and post event. This not only offers important insights on visitor behaviour, it also ensures unique customer journeys, and allows you to enhance storytelling with real-time interactions, retail, AI and more.

3D Interactive spaces

There have been huge leaps made in immersive displays in recent years with VR Headsets and projection suites kitted out with wind machines and water droplets reaching the masses. Pufferfish developed a range of inflatable screens for an immersive 360• experience bringing 3D interactive spaces to the next level, like this installation, entitled SUN, for the Lightpool Festival. They worked in Partnership with UCLAN and Creative Director, Alex Rinser to combine cutting edge science, art and data visualisation. Pufferfish describe how they designed one of the spheres: “Using a selection of five wavelengths of light available from NASA satellite images, our GIS Cartographer Heiko Lang had to stich those images together to create a hemispherical image that would then form part of the complete 360°spherical projection.” Sounds like magic, right?

Virtual Tours

With many parts of the world still restricting foreign travel and capacity limits on venues, tech steps up again to provide visitors with an interactive experience. Founded in 1824 you would be forgiven for thinking The National Gallery in London was a stuffy old art gallery. But they have teamed up with Google to create virtual tours of their spaces  and bring their exhibitions to the world. Viewed on desktop, mobile, or a VR headset, this is another great example of tech bringing information and creativity to the masses. Whereas previously people would have been prevented from enjoying the exhibitions due access needs, location, or finances, now anyone can participate with a few clicks.

What do you think is the next move for tech in making public events more accessible and interactive? Innovation is constant in the sector, and drives for equality and accessibility make tech an essential tool.

Thank you to Kirsty for guest writing this piece. For more of her work, see her website here.

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