Enriched Audio Description: Working Towards an Inclusive Museum Experience
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Within a museum context, audio description (AD) is generally thought to be a tool for enhancing access for people with a visual impairment, in other words, as a means of providing access, through verbal description, to visual details of an object or artwork. Taking evidence from researchers and practitioners, we argue that AD has a much broader potential scope and benefit. We consider AD in more established fields, such as film, and then explore the issues impacting on AD within museum environments. We also explore the literature on multisensory learning and memory, to create a rationale for the benefits of AD based on multisensory imagery, with or without perceptual experience. We conclude that, through the use of imagery, AD has the potential to guide people around a painting or object in a way which can enhance the ‘seeing’ ability of all people, whether or not they have sight. Further, multisensory experience, based on imagery or perceptual experience, combined with semantic or fact information, would enhance memorability. As such, taking AD from the niche audience of visual impairment, and projecting it into the mass market of the ‘sighted’, could have a revolutionary impact on the museum experience and our understanding of access and difference.
KeywordsAudiovisual translation Multisensory Universal design Visual impairment Cultural heritage
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