Most, if not all museums provide audio or guided tours to their visitors. Audio tours are provided through an audio device that contains audio descriptions of each exhibit, and guided tours are led by a staff members . Needless to say though, neither of these methods are beneficial to deaf visitors (unless there is another guide who signs in ASL – which is unheard of). Exhibits do have text descriptions but do we have the patience and the mental capacity to read and grasp all of it?
In order to provide greater convenience to deaf visitors, and to encourage them to visit museums to enlighten themselves, Kim Hunt, a certified sign language interpreter, along with Cain Chiasson, an instructor at Lamar University, have teamed up to create video tours that will have audio, ASL, and captions to enhance deaf visitors’ experience. Each exhibit will have its own video which will be accessed via a QR code displayed on the wall. Scanning the QR code via a phone or tablet app (the museum has free wifi and tablets that can be checked out for visitors who don’t have a smart phone) will launch a video explaining the exhibit the deaf visitor is at. These videos are displayed in a split screen fashion where one side shows a docent talking about the exhibit, the other side has an ASL interpreter signing what the docent is saying, and at the bottom are captions for the video.
Fire Museum of Southeast Texas is the first museum to make such videos for all of its exhibits. Cain Chiasson is also in talks with the city of San Antonio to provide ASL tours of the Riverwalk and also to expand the coverage of a couple of other museums.
Watch the video below to see what the ASL tours are like!
Source: Lamar University