Monthly Archives: March 2014

Touch and Go

I was recently asked for some advice on how to create inclusive 3d models. Drawing on personal experience of handling model buildings, villages, townscapes and other sites, (that goes back many decades!) plus tips provided by local visually impaired people, I produced the following: –

To be inclusive, models must be useable by people with widely differing ages and abilities (physical, sensory and intellectual).

Before you start, be clear about your aims and objectives/outcomes for the model. That is to say, ask yourself why you want to create it and what visitors will be able to do with it.

Then, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will the model be located inside or outside?
  • What material/materials should you use?
  • How will visitors make sense of it?

Inclusive models must:

  • Look good
  • Be well lit
  • Be strong enough for people to touch
  • Be small enough for people to be able to reach all of it (though they may have to move round it)
  • Be placed at a suitable height for children and people who are seated.
  • Show the contours and key features of the site
  • Use different textures for buildings, roads/paths, grass,  trees and hedges, rivers/lakes/ponds, etc

Suggested textures:

  • Roads/paths – a smooth surface
  • Grass – a rough surface like rough sand paper
  • Hedges – raised lines with a rough texture
  • Rivers/lakes/ponds – a wavy surface

Model trees, lamp posts and other structures can also be used.

All features must be firmly fixed to the base.

A great afternoon with tea and talking pens

The DiscoveryPen celebration and launch event last Wednesday was a great success. Twenty visually impaired people attended, plus eight Friends of Bristol Art Gallery and the following people from other organisations:-

•           Mishti Chatterji Co-director, Mantra Lingua

•           Aisling Irvine, Access & Inclusion Co-ordinator, Culture Company, Derry/Londonderry

•           Gareth Brettell, Learning & Participation Manager, Royal Navy Submarine Museum, Gosport

•           Sylvia Gallimore, Avon Sports & Leisure Club for Visually Impaired People

•           Clara Markwick, Guide Dogs for the Blind

•           Scott Wood, Action for Blind People

Nine of the volunteers I trained the week before welcomed guests and acted as sighted guides.

I also had fantastic support from my colleagues across the museum.

A video of the event will be ready soon and I will post it hear as soon as possible.

The picture below shows one of the volunteers with two visually impaired guests enjoying the refreshments we provided.


Jenny Steve and Matt

Party time!

Today we have an event at Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery celebrating the arrival of DiscoveryPens in several permanent galleries. I’m expecting around 60 guests, including lots of local visually impaired people. Mantra Lingua, who make the pens, will also be present, along with guests from some other museums.

Last week I trained 10 volunteers to act as sighted guides for the visually impaired people attending the event who have requested one. The session included information about the event itself, training in how to guide a visually impaired person and practice using the DiscoveryPens. The key messages were:

– Visually impaired people are all different

– Don’t make assumptions about what they want or need

– Ask them, using open questions like “How can I help you?” or “What can I do for you?”

It’s not rocket science, but sometimes things are only obvious when someone tells you.

To see a DiscoveryPen view my previous post called “Picture this”.