Informal learning, such as that gained by visiting a museum, gallery, zoo or aquarium, is part of everyday life for most people. Generally, they are unaware of how they are learning and taking in information. For people who are blind or have low vision, informal learning in the context of an aquarium with moving animals rather than static exhibits is another kind of design challenge. Providing audio descriptions about the fish, for example, does not describe the visual scene in real time, such as “there is a large stingray coming towards us and a shoal of fish is moving out of its path”. In her article, Overcoming Barriers to Participation: An Aquarium Case Study, Carrie Bruce reports the results of a trial of a prototype system for providing both real time information with descriptive information.
Editor’s note: It is too easy to assume that a blind person would not want to participate in something that for most people is about the visual experience, such as sight seeing or a stage show. I recently travelled to Peru with a small tour group which included a blind man. He could not see Machu Picchu and all the ancient relics, he could not see Lake Titicaca, and all the other wonderful sights, but with the help of a companion he still walked around Machu Picchu and sailed on Lake Titicaca as well as joining in all other activities and enjoying excellent meals. Although he became blind in his childhood, in 70 years he has travelled widely across the world and has many interesting tales to tell. Also a point to note for inclusive tourism.