Accessibility goals drive innovation for entire visitor experience
An innovative mobile app for visitors has been launched by the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR), including a self-guided audio tour and accessibility features unparalleled by any museum in the world.
Using Bluetooth iBeacons, the app communicates with more than 120 Universal Access Points located throughout the Museum – the first such use of this technology in Canada, and the largest installation in the world. It also includes an interactive visitor "mood meter" that is unique to the CMHR.
"We wanted to create a truly inclusive experience, where visitors of all abilities could easily experience everything the Museum offers," said Scott Gillam, CMHR Manager of Digital Platforms, who today demonstrated the new app for the media. "That goal turned out to be a driver of innovation that has enhanced our entire visitor experience. This new app puts human rights subject matter into the palm of your hand."
The app was created in cooperation with Acoustiguide, a global company that has done similar work for major museums such as the Louvre, the Guggenheim and the Smithsonian.
"This is the most complicated project we have ever done," said Jeff Hunt, the Ottawa-based creative director for Acoustiguide. "The way information is delivered to the user is technically complex – we've only done it like this a couple times before."
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights App can be downloaded to iOS or Android devices for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play. It includes the self-guided tour – which features the voices of the CMHR's own experts who worked on the galleries and programs they describe. Information is available in English and French, American Sign Language (ASL) and Langue des signes québécoise (LSQ).
For visitors who are blind or have low vision, the app pulls exhibit information from the Universal Access Points that can be relayed via text reader on their devices. This enriches the experience for all visitors, by providing gallery highlights that are picked up by the mobile device when it passes near one of the iBeacon points.
Another feature creates panoramic and "augmented reality" views from the Israel Asper Tower of Hope with hot-spot buttons that contain information about visible Winnipeg landmarks for the benefit of out-of-town visitors. There is also an interactive map, online ticket purchasing, and information to plan your visit. See the attached backgrounder for additional information about features of the Museum's app.
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is the first museum in the world solely dedicated to the evolution, celebration and future of human rights. Using multimedia technology and other innovative approaches, the CMHR creates inspiring encounters with human rights for all ages, in a visitor experience unlike any other.
About the Canadian Museum for Human Rights App
The first of its kind for any museum in the world, the CMHR app contains a fully accessible self-guided tour (using audio, images, text and video), interactive map, mood meter, online ticketing, information to help plan your visit, and more. It was developed by the CMHR and Acoustiguide, a world leader in creation of site-specific custom apps and content for museums and other cultural institutions.
You can download the app to an iOS or Android device, or borrow an iPod from the Museum's Ticketing and Information desk. It is available in English, French, ASL and LSQ. It includes:
- An audio guide – including the voices of Museum staff members –describes each gallery and provides highlights of exhibits and architecture. Text-based transcripts can also be viewed. Image galleries and video create a rich, interactive experience.
- A "Near Me" mode connects your device through low-frequency iBeacons to over 120 Universal Access Points (UAPs) located throughout the Museum. Designed to assist visitors who are blind or low-vision, this feature provides an opportunity for all visitors to experience key exhibit highlights. You can also type in the UAP number to access the exhibit information from anywhere. This is the first use of iBeacon technology in a Canadian cultural institution, and the largest such use in the world.
- An interactive panorama feature from the Israel Asper Tower of Hope and the Indigenous Perspectives terrace includes information about nearby Winnipeg landmarks through "hot spots" or blue dots superimposed on a panoramic image. This function is available in real time through the camera on your mobile device ("augmented reality") or in a panorama view.
- An interactive "mood meter" lets you share how you feel as you move through the Museum's spaces. A first for any museum in the world, this colourful feature provides an easy way for you to provide us with useful feedback about your experience, all along the way – and see how others felt.
- An interactive map of the Museum's public spaces helps you find your way. The map can tell you where you are, show you the floorplans, or guide you to your destination with text-based directions.
- Online ticketing and membership purchase is available so you can skip the ticket line.
- Information to plan your visit includes an event calendar, descriptions of the Boutique, ERA Bistro, guided tours, accessibility features, how to make a donation, and connecting to the Museum via social media.
- Full accessibility is an important aspect of the app and self-guided tour. Information flows from over 120 Universal Access Points (UAP) when using the "Near Me" function to ensure that visitors who are blind or have low vision have a rich experience in the Museum. At each UAP, Braille and tactile "cane-stop" strips on the help visitors access information about key exhibit highlights. For visitors who are Deaf or hard of hearing, the app can be viewed in ASL or LSQ and includes additional sign-language content for several exhibits.
- A modular design that allows the Museum to easily add, edit or remove content and functions over time in a simple and cost-effective manner. The app also pulls content from the CMHR's Enterprise Content Management System and accessible Web pages, thereby allowing content creators and writers to revise app content quickly and easily.