7. Assistive Technology.

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7.1. Openness to Adopting New Technology.
7.2. Accessible Digital Signage.
7.3. Accessible Digitisation of Archives.

7.1. Openness to Adopting New Technology.

Institutions should remain open to, and maintain an active interest in, the use of new technologies for the purposes of accessibility.

7.2. Accessible Digital Signage.

There are various possible mechanisms for accessible digital signage, including NaviLens, which is dependent on a smartphone camera being able to decode physical tags which are strategically placed and which can make detailed information, including realtime updates, accessible to visually impaired people, and others. For example, use of this technology potentially allows even fully sighted people who do not have English as their first language to access information on timetabling, exhibits, guides, programmes, menus, etc.

ADS is not a silver bullet. It should be remembered that:

  • Many, if not most, visually impaired people may not be able to access this technology, whether because they don’t have a smartphone, or are not comfortable using smartphone or touchscreen technology etc.
  • ADS depends on a direct line of view between the smartphone and the tag for that tag to be recognised. This may not be practical in crowded spaces.
  • the basics of accessibility should begin with a ‘batteries-not-needed approach; and so, ADS should not be seen as a substitute for any other accessibility guideline in this document.

However, ADS has the unique potential to facilitate accessibility in many ways, including:

  • wayfinding: As well as providing orientation and navigational information, ADS can replicate the effects of visual signage for sighted people, but in a way useable by visually impaired people. This can include directional signage, such as the way to a particular ward or unit in a hospital, area of a large campus; or it can be used for basic signage such as toilets and exits, platforms or runways, information or help desks, etc. Indeed, if properly updated, ADS can even inform the visitor when a toilet is out of order. As such, ADS can provide useful mobility-related information to a visually impaired person who is an infrequent or first-time visitor.

However, ADS usually does not provide information on obstacles (permanent or temporary) between the smartphone and the tag, e.g., a stairwell, chairs and tables, or a knot of people.

  • realtime updated timetable information
  • queuing display information
  • detailed information (in many languages of choice) about exhibits.
  • information on programmes and menus Consideration of the use of ADS should be done with close consultation and active involvement of visually impaired people through VVI, as their specialist DPO.

7.3. Accessible Digitisation of Archives.

With regard to libraries and any other public archives, digital archiving of documents should be expedited and made freely and publically available online. Digital imaging is only part of the process of accessible digitisation. HTML5 or accessible Word (.doc/.docx) versions must also be made available. One successful model of doing this is crowd-sourcing, such as used in “meitheal” on www.duchas.ie

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