Accessing Smartphones: mobile for all in museums

Sofie Andersen, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, USA, Christine Murray, Antenna International, USA, Tasia Johnson, Seattle Art Museum, USA, Annie Leist, Art Beyond Sight, USA, Joe Baskerville, Cogapp, UK

Mobile technologies are radically changing the lives of many individuals with disabilities while concurrently becoming ubiquitous in museums and cultural attractions. Smartphones and screen based mobile technologies have the potential to both positively and negatively impact the experiences of individuals with access needs. At the heart of this issue is 1, considering how smartphones are used by individuals with access needs, 2, determining which features of commercial devices and apps are working correctly, and 3, documenting what is already being applied to mobile experiences in museums.

This ‘how to’ talk is informed by the industry trends outlined in recent mobile surveys and conference discussions, including Museums and Mobile surveys 2009-2013, TechatLead and the Access issue of Curator Magazine, July 2012. For instance, the 2013 Museums and Mobile results identified 70% of the 551 global surveyed institutions as providing a smartphone solution for their general visitors ( The speakers will discuss these results as well as impart practical tips and outline challenges for using smartphone technology to shape and enrich the experiences of access audiences visiting cultural institutions.

Speakers from Art Beyond Sight, The Whitney Museum of American Art, Seattle Art Museum, Antenna International and CogApp will reference their own projects and experiences, consider case studies and developments in the commercial and research communities, and show how institutions can serve access audiences with smartphones. They will look at how devices and apps impact the experience of access audiences visiting in person as well as learning remotely about cultural institutions and heritage sites. The workshop will be supported by findings from surveys conducted by Antenna International in partnership with access advocacy group Art Beyond Sight.

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