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Opening Museum Culture to People with Disabilities

Illustration of two people inside a museum near some pictures centered on the image. On the left a blind girl is using a cell phone with an audio icon in a notification balloon. In front of her on the right side, a man is in a wheelchair with a cell phone and the Lazarillo logo is on the screen.

A new international experience from Lazarillo, with locations that are enabled with the objectives of providing accessibility and knowledge 

By Daniel López

You may not know about the importance of May 18, but it is recognized as International Museum Day. This day not only promotes a more cultural society but also acknowledges the significance of opening museums to a greater diversity of people who are searching for answers every day. 

In 1977 the International Council of Museums, in coordination with various organizations linked to the field of culture and research, gave life to an experience by which people can immerse themselves in a variety of international historical periods. Themes such as art and painting, literature, sculpture, and even music are now part of increasingly accessible venues, and visitors can freely tour their facilities and have great experiences.

New Spaces

In Chile, where Lazarillo was founded, various public and private institutions have been linked to not only broaden the cultural horizons of people with visual impairments, but also of those who live with reduced mobility and must travel in wheelchairs or use canes.

It is precisely this group of people who frequently experience the challenges of dealing with limited access. The links established by Lazarillo are very important as they enable routing and geolocation systems, internal navigation and in some cases thematic descriptions.

For Jonathan Taivo, director of Lazarillo Operations, one of the company’s great milestones was to provide accessibility to the Museum of Memory in Chile, when the application was just beginning. This cultural center portrays a very detailed political and social history of the last decades, and in 2017 this implementation became one of Lazarillo’s biggest challenges.

We had been working for a very short time and at that time we were exploring how Lazarillo could be useful in a museum. The directors were very interested in our work and what it also meant for blind people when they navigated, so we began this adventure that has given our team a lot of experience,” said Jonathan.

Likewise, by partnering with other companies, new tools such as touch lines and information systems with sign language for deaf people were enabled, all based on the performance and utility that daily transformed these venues into icons of cultural inclusion for Chile.

The CEO and founder of Lazarillo, René Espinoza, for whom the interest shown by cultural groups in making these venues accessible is a great motivation. also refers to this work.

“Exploring with museums and end users has allowed us to generate an effective solution for both parties and today we are developing several projects in locations where culture is part of everyone’s life,” explains René.

New scenarios

In 2020, despite the world pandemic, Lazarillo began the rehabilitation of the Arab Museum of Modern Art (Mathaf). It is a traditional cultural space located in Qatar, where Lazarillo is currently working on a project after winning a contest organized by Mada Accessibility.

Jonathan Taivo, Lazarillo’s Director of Operations, highlighted the significance of having an open museum for Qataris and for tourism, once again reinforcing an inclusive concept that can be put into practice anywhere.

“The museum has different types of artistic exhibits, both permanent and traveling. So our work was focused on permanent displays, where we have enabled the description of works with all their information, in addition to allowing users to browse their expansive areas with geolocation that allows the Mathaf and its exhibits to be located more easily,” says Jonathan.

A difficult and constant task for Lazarillo’s team is to describe and configure a scenario where culture and its various manifestations receive the recognition that it deserves.

In addition, there are challenges from thousands of users whose search for new experiences demands inclusive processes at all levels, with a more humane and democratized access to worldwide knowledge and culture.

Another striking tool with great potential are virtual tours, such as the one available in the Lazarillo app that invites you to visit the Regional Museum of Araucanía located in Chile. Users can find the museum in the search engine by category. The museum publishes a release in the news section, allowing the user to easily discover and find the museum.

With the functionalities that we have enabled to diversify offers for our user community and also for cultural partners, there is the alternative of adapting virtual tours with various languages. With this feature, we can guarantee accessibility and usability unlimited by language, opening new possibilities for inclusive cultural experiences.

In practice, this means that if a person visits a museum equipped with Lazarillo technology in person or remotely, they will be able to view the contents in a user-friendly format and with proven accessibility standards.

This is how we approach our work, not only by introducing solutions within the context by which we navigate today, but also empowering Lazarillo in order to end restrictions and strengthen the pathway to an accessible world. 

Finally, we wish to point out that there are multiple ways to implement these ideas, which you can find by visiting the Lazarillo website, making contact with our developers and helping to expand the horizon of millions of people around the world.

https://www.lazarillo.app