RIT/NTID-developed app enhances accessibility for museum visitors on self-guided tours

Rochester’s Memorial Art Gallery is the first in the nation to use MUSEAI platform

The MUSEAI app, created by researchers at RIT/NTID to enhance accessibility for museum visitors, is being used for the first time in the country at Rochester’s Memorial Art Gallery. The exhibition, De’VIA: The Manifesto Comes of Age, runs through Feb. 16, 2020.

A new app developed by researchers at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf is making its national debut at an exhibit at the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester.

The app, known as MUSEAI, is a new self-guided tour platform designed to enhance accessibility for all visitors in museums. Visitors use the app by inputting a number that is placed next to the artwork, which will provide them with the information about a specific artwork, including descriptions, historical facts, media (video/audio) with captions, audio descriptions and more.

The app is being used at the Memorial Art Gallery in a current exhibit, “De’VIA: The Manifesto Comes of Age,” which runs through Feb. 16, 2020. The exhibit draws principally from the permanent collection of the RIT/NTID Dyer Arts Center and features works that explore the Deaf View/Image Art genre and represents deaf artists and perceptions based on their deaf experiences.

The MUSEAI platform was developed by faculty and students from NTID’s Center on Access Technology and consists of an intuitive software program; a robust dashboard to add, edit and manage accessible content; and cloud computing that enables museums worldwide to easily enhance accessibility. 

Brian Trager, an associate professor and associate director of NTID’s Center on Access Technology, said the app was developed with an inclusive design mindset to ensure its simplicity and accessibility. 

“We are proud that the MAG is the first art gallery in the country to use the MUSEAI platform and even more excited that they are committed to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community in Rochester to provide an accessible venue to fully enjoy the De’VIA exhibition experience,” said Trager.

Marlene Hamann-Whitmore is the McPherson Director of Academic Programs at the gallery. “MAG is dedicated to making the museum an accessible space and engaging place for all of our visitors,” she said. “The dynamic new MUSEAI app, designed and developed right here in Rochester at NTID, is a terrific step in the right direction.”

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