Jointly organized by UNWTO, the ONCE Foundation, and IFEMA, the event “Accessibility: A Competitive Advantage for Tourism Destinations”, to be held at the 2013 edition of the FITUR Madrid tourism fair, will highlight good practices in tourism accessibility from across Europe and Latin America, with a special focus on accessible destinations in Uruguay.

Tourism stakeholders, leading experts, and organisations representing persons with disabilities and special needs will share their insight and experiences on the subject of accessible tourism, while examining opportunities and challenges in this regard. The event will simultaneously elaborate on UNWTO’s on-going collaboration with both the ONCE Foundation, the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT), and the ACS Foundation, in the interests of making tourism destinations ever more accessible worldwide.

The working language of the event will be Spanish. No simultaneously translation in other languages will be provided; however, there will be sign language interpretation with Spanish subtitles.

 

Source: Ethics and Social Dimensions of Tourism


The Smithsonian Institute has started a new initiative to make its enormous collection more accessible. It includes a series of 3D printed models of its archive items and a digital archive of scanned objects. These could be exhibited at museums, schools and other places to enable more people to have access to them.

 

 

CNET reports that only 2% of the Smithsonian’s 137 million items is available to the public at any one time. That is why it is planning a digital archive of 3D models, which could then be printed and displayed to expand their reach.

As part of the project, RedEye On Demand recently created a 3D printed “museum-quality historical replica” of a Thomas Jefferson statue they had scanned, which was then installed for the “Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello: Paradox of Liberty” exhibit at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The initiative has an ambitious goal but 3D digitization coordinators Adam Metallo and Vince Rossi are slowly building out the Smithsonian digital archive. Currently, only a few dozen objects can be scanned each year, some of which will be 3D printed while others will be digital 3D models. They hope that in the future there will be lots of 3D printed exhibits and models on display for everyone to enjoy.

Source: PSFK

 


The National Museum of Roman Art in Merida, an institution under the Spanish Ministry of Culture, has new resources that improve the accessibility of persons with auditory impairment since December 2011. In this museum the visitor will find a wide range of communication devices specifically designed for persons with auditory impairment: sign language guides with connections to personal links of magnetic induction, magnetic loops and audio amplifiers in the events hall, ticket office and museum shop.

The Project is financed by the Orange Foundation and supported by the essential contribution of the CNSE Foundation for Removal of Communication Barriers, a key entity for standardising Spanish sign language. This foundation has carried out the translation of the contents for the guides to this language, as well as the subtitling tasks.

This service adds to the normal audioguides, allowing the entire access of deaf persons to the collection on show at the museum.

The sign language guide starts with a welcome message, after which the visitor can discover how the device works. The content of the visit is structured on several core topics about life in Roman Spain. The main menu offers other options, such as a glossary of art terms, Roman history and mythology, a section dedicated to the history of the building which was designed by the Spanish architect Rafael Moneo, and finally a section with information on the schedules, services and activities of the museum.

Source: Solidaridad Digital / El Periódico de Extremadura 

Image: EFE


A mass of persons crowd together around the Mona Lisa all day long. This is one of the most characteristic while at the same time infuriating scenes at the Louvre Museum. This appears in an article written by Michele Cantazaro for Diario Cordoba. This problem could be solved through technological means. The idea focuses on the analysis of the behavior during the tours, a method that could be helpful for other purposes. It is the first time this kind of data transmission system is used in a museum, in spite of the increasing use of technology in cultural institutions.

The growing number of visitors at the Parisian museum, which ranks among the most visited in the world, has caused obstructions not only around the famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci, but also in other locations of the building. Thus, the Louvre Museum has commissioned a group of researchers to study the movements of the tourists. They think that changing the position of some paintings could relieve overcrowding in certain locations. The first results of this study, carried out in 2010, were presented in one of the leading tourism and technology conferences in Sweden.

The team uses a technological trick: the researches have installed several sensors that are able to detect mobile phones with the Bluetooth function turned on. According to the statistics, at least one in twenty visitors does not turn off this data transmission system, found in the vast majority of modern mobile phones. These sensors can record the device’s path during the visit. Thanks to this trick, the researchers were able to record 13.000 paths over 10 days in 2010, the peak period during four months of recording.

El método respeta la privacidad en la transmisión de datos 

For privacy purpuses, the sensors automatically hide the phone number with an encrypted code, so that the owner of the detected devices cannot be identified. “This project is framed within a field of research that uses the high amount of data generated by mobile phones, GPS and other devices to understand the movements of the masses”, he explains. For example, Girardin analyzed the movement of bicycles and tourists in Barcelona or New York. “It is the first time this technique is applied in a museum”, says Blat. Now, the group wants the weekly and seasonal patterns to suggest more effective tours or possible locations for information offices.

Source: Diario Córdoba


“There are a lot of persons with some impairment that do not travel. They do not lack time or wishes to travel, they fear being unable to find barrier-free destinations”, said the Balearic MEP Rosa Estaràs while explaining the current situation of accessible tourism. Estaràs exposed this shared vision as organizer of the forum “Tourism for everyone: an opportunity to win”, held on Thursday 9th February. Speakers from all over Europe met in this forum.

Currently “there are no common models of accessibility in the EU in tourist services. Thus, the EU can play a major role in the drawing up of tourist sector standards and minimal accessibility indicators to be met by hotels and other services in the European Community”, the MEP said. Throughout the different reports and debates, the speakers presented the Balearic Islands, Spain and Europe as an international point of reference in the field of accessible tourist destinations.

The vice-president of the Europen Commision and Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, Antonio Tajani,

was commissioned for the opening of the event. Also present at this event was the Italian MEP and member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism, Carlos Fidanza, and the President of the Disabilty Intergroup for Ádám Kósa. The Balearic Islands were widely represented by the Tourism Director of the Balearic government, Luisa Hernández, the president of the Chamber of Commerce in Mallorca, Juan Gual, the managing director of Diamond Resorts International, Helen Smith, and the founder of Handisport Mallorca, Rafael Winckelmann. Estaràs thanked Tajini for the interest he showed, pointing out the need to promote actions in the European Union to improve the accessibility of tourist destinations.

Discapacidad

According to Estaràs, possible policy measures that could be applied in the member countries include the possibility of limiting European funding to the more accessible projects presented by member countries. By the same token, it would be necessary to introduce codes of good practice for member countries that contribute to the professionalization of the tourist sector. The main concerns include accessibility as a business strategy, the improvement of information about accessible tourism for disabled persons, or the development of the Calypso Project of social tourism, which seeks the promotion of tourism in the low season, the fight against seasonality and the stimulation of European citizens through tourist exchanges.

Other measures to be carried out in the member countries include the Prize to the more accessible city, awarded yearly by the EU to reward the efforts in this field. “If the country does not include accessibility in its policies and tourism strategies, it will become less attractive and competitive as a destination for everyone, especially for disabled persons and their families” the MEP warned.

Economic advantages of barrier-free tourism

From the economic point of view, Spain ranks highest in tourist destinations. Nevertheless, the traditional tourist pattern of summer tourism has been disrupted. Thus the development of new patterns of potential clients could improve financial profits.

One of the advantages of so-called “barrier-free tourism” is high competitiveness based on distinction. It is to be expected that in the coming years the sociodemographic and lifestyle changes, such as the ageing of the population, lead to an increase in the number of people with some sort of impairment.

Source: Discapnet / Mallorca Diario


MuseumApp is a new product for museums capable of creating interactive indoor and outdoor tours and compatible with smartphones.

MuseumApp

MuseumApp consists of three parts:

Tours: photos, videos, sounds, texts, tasks and opinions are linked with several locations in the city and the different exhibition rooms of the museum.

Tourmaker, an online edition enviroment intended to create and publish different tours easily.

One application: for the iPhone and coming soon for Android-based smartphones.  The application allows the users direct contact with the monuments. It is a helpful tool to deepen the knowledge on locations and new forms of interacting.

Source: MuseumApp


The Persistence of Memories

MoMa

Kirstin Broussard, a guide at the Museum of Modern Art, gathered a dozen senior citizens in front of Joan Mitchell’s exuberant 1957 painting Ladybug one recent afternoon to discuss the luscious blue, green, and orange slashes animating the large expanse of white canvas. “It’s chaotic,” observed one visitor. “But it’s beautiful chaos.” When Broussard wondered aloud why Mitchell had titled the picture Ladybug, another member of the group suggested that it captured the spirit of spring. “No! It’s set in winter,” protested another. “Look at all that white.” And a fourth participant offered up the ditty: “Ladybug, ladybug, fly away”….

Continue reading at: ARTnews


The head of the Civil Service Division for Google Spain, Esperanza Ibáñez, has taken firm steps to ensure that “the Net is within everyone’s reach”, whilst also insisting that Google “will continue to develop tools to cover all the needs of persons with disabilities”.

Ibáñez announced this during her speech at the Second National CENTAC Congress on Accessibility Technologies which took place on 18 October in La Cartuja Monastery, Seville.

Google

 “Internet has changed our lives”, Ibáñez pointed out. She also announced that in a recent survey carried out by Cisco, “32% of young people said that the internet is as essential as the air we breathe”.  She said that there are currently 325 million websites and that the internet contributes 234 billion euros to Spanish national GDP and that its “economic impact continues to grow”.

Since its early days, as Ibáñez highlighted, the main aim of Google “has been to order information and make it accessible, because all users matter”. However, she stresses that, “we often make the mistake of thinking that persons with disabilities are only a small percentage”. As a matter of fact, in 2009 the number of internet users with a disability in Spain was greater than the total number of internet users in Bolivia.

In addition to this, she also presented some of the accessible products developed by Google, such as “Chrome Vox”, the web browser for those with a visual disability, the ‘Android’ open-source system for mobile devices or the application which allows users to subtitle YouTube videos.

Previously, a roundtable was celebrated under the title, “How can an idea become reality?”. The Head of Projects at CENTAC, Diego Soriano pointed out during this gathering that, “innovation is a motor for growth”, and he explained that because of this, “many companies solely focus on innovation and accessibility technologies”.

Source:  Servimedia


Despite the fact that screens of the well-known tablets are flat and have nothing that can create sensations in the fingers, they will no longer represent a handicap for those with a visual disability. Engineers from the United States have managed to take a step forward towards electronic accessibility. What is a Braille word processor like for touchscreen devices?  It is a system similar to the virtual joysticks located under the user’s thumb which are used for tablet videogames.

 

Adam Duran is a student from the University of New Mexico who last year visited the University of Stanford to participate in a two-month summer course organised by the Army High Performance Computing Research Center (AHPCRC). The aim of the course was to develop great ideas that are new and Duran can feel proud of having reached this objective. Together with professionals like Adrian Lew, a professor of mechanical engineering and Sohan Dharmaraja, a mathematician, he thought up a simple system for improving interaction between people who are blind or partially sighted and the touchscreen devices they use.

The first idea was to create a Braille text recognition system for tablets which makes use of the cameras that these devices normally have. But, what if blind people could write in Braille straight onto the touchscreen?  There are already computers which have been adapted to writing in Braille, but as Duran himself says, a standard tablet has many more functions for a tenth of the price. In essence, this would be a cheaper and more comfortable way of bringing those with a visual disability closer to the latest technology.

The solution chosen in the end was that the Braille keyboard of a conventional word processor, which consists of eight keys, would be adapted to touchscreen devices. The key to this solution is that it does not consist of a solid set of keys – instead the keys are created wherever the user wants them to be. This means that the user does not have to search around for a key that they cannot feel with their fingertips. The team from Stanford has thought up a keyboard design which adapts itself to each individual. The application can be fully customised and it even adapts to different finger shapes and sizes.

“Smart, isn’t it?”, Professor Lew proudly says. Charbel Farhat, member of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the University of Stanford and Executive Director of the summer program, said, “no Braille writing machine can do this.  This is a real step forward for the blind and partially sighted.”

Source: Europa Press /  Gizmag


The application period for the third ‘Programa Profesionales Digitales’ (Professional Digital Program) is already open. The Secretary of State for Telecommunications and Information Society, through the web Red.es  and the organism `Conferencia de Rectores de las Universidades Españolas´ (CRUE is the Spanish acronym of the Conference of Rectors of Spanish Universities ) has announced a budget of 8 million Euros for the inclusion of new projects.

The main goal of this program is to promote the national industry of digital content. It pretends the creation of production centers, the training of students and professionals in that comercial sector and the collaboration between universities and companies whose speciality is multimedia creation.

In this call could participate all the Spanish public universities associated with the CRUE and located in the following Spanish Autonomous Communities: Aragón, Baleares, Cantabria, Catalonia, Madrid, Navarra, La Rioja and Basque Country. The deadline for present the applications is November 15, 2011.

From here, you can download all information about the latest edition of  ‘Programa Profesionales Digitales’ (the next documents are only in spanish):

 

Source: Profesionales Digitales