A contribution from the XPRO editorial team

In a creative design collaboration that focuses on the sense of touch, XPRO Berlin and Tactile Studio developed the “Tactile X”, a 3D object with Braille lettering that ensures that XPRO can be felt and understand by people with and without disabilities alike. We at XPRO took this as an opportunity to ask experts from our community how to develop good accessible experiences and what role technology plays in this.

Experience technology branches out into many areas of our lives and has enormous potential to convey knowledge, stories, values, and creative ideas. “In the cultural field, technology needs to be put entirely at the service of the experience to provide intuitive, easy, and enjoyable access,” says Alexandra Verdeil of Tactile Studio.

“Technology needs to be put entirely at the service of the experience to provide intuitive, easy, and enjoyable access.”

Alexandra Verdeil, Tactile Studio

The inclusive design agency uses interactive concepts that combine physicality, sensory input, and digital interaction on the screen to make visitors active participants rather than passive spectators of their installations. Their work can be seen for example at the Philharmonie de Paris, where “The Children’s Philharmonic” opened in September 2021. The 1,000-square-meter exhibition space uses elements of gamification, sensory exhibits, hands-on devices, and interactive components to open children’s hearts and minds to musical experiences.

Photo: One of the tactile exhibits for the ethnological collection and Asian Art at the Stiftung Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss, schweizergestaltung in collaboration with werk5 | new craft

“Many clients think inclusive design is a hassle, so there’s still a lot of convincing to do,” says Ellen Schweizer of schweizergestaltung and partner in the #goinclusive initiative. “But once clients understand that inclusive experiences are also always better for everyone and do not necessarily have to cost more or look ugly, they usually change their minds and become fellow advocates for accessible design themselves”.

“Inclusive design not necessarily have to cost more or look ugly”.

Ellen Schweizer, schweizergestaltung, #goinclusive

Like the “Alphabet of Invisible Things” or at the Ethnological Collections and Asian Art at the Humboldt Forum Berlin, Ellen Schweizer creates projects for museums and cultural institutions that no longer want to exclude people with impaired vision and others.

Photo: One of the tactile exhibits for the ethnological collection and Asian Art at the Stiftung Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss, schweizergestaltung in collaboration with werk5 | new craft

Photo: More fun for all through new ways of perspectives, "The Alphabet of Invisible Things", schweizergestaltung

Experience designer Adriana Magni of Kiss the Frog, a Dutch interactive media company, describes it as follows: “Experience technology can be used to amplify the most compelling aspects of a theme, to add layers of information and accessibility tools. It enables us to see, feel, hear, and reach people, places, and objects that we wouldn’t reach on our own”.

“Experience technology enables us to see, feel, hear, and reach people, places, and objects that we wouldn’t reach on our own.”

Adriana P. Magni, Kiss the Frog

With the goal of creating the most accessible and inclusive museum in the world, Adriana Magni and her colleagues worked for the “United States Olympic and Paralympic Museum” in Colorado Springs. Here, 20,000 square meters are dedicated to interactive elements. A series of exhibits that organically adapt to each individual’s choices and needs to provide a personalized experience for each guest. Inclusive design and assistive technologies such as video subtitles, audio descriptions, universal keyboards, sign language, and RFID-triggered customizations allow visitors with different abilities to enjoy and learn about the exhibition at their own pace. In the interactive galleries, they can try out sports simulations and train with their idols from Team USA.

Photo: "United States Olympic and Paralympic Museum", Colorado Springs, USA, Kiss the Frog

Another beacon project for accessible design is the “Neanderthal Museum” in Mettmann, realized by Gregor Strutz and his colleagues at inkl.Design. An inclusive app, many hands-on stations, and an interactive game allow guests to experience the history of Homo Neanderthalensis from the perspective of a blind visitor. “Like a border crosser between the worlds of perception”, says Gregor Strutz. The fully inclusive museum tour is designed to meet the needs of people with disabilities and is aimed at anyone with an interest in learning.

“Accessible design is like a border crosser between the worlds of perception”.

Gregor Strutz, inkl.Design GmbH

According to Gregor Strutz, combining digital media with tactile objects to create a coherent world of perception is playing an increasingly important role, which is a great opportunity for the future. Why? Because people can grasp objects and spaces in the truest sense of the word – with their hands, eyes, ears, and their minds. “Using modern technology, complex explanations can be made available to everyone, according to their abilities. Human deficits finally no longer play a role. The inclusion is the winner” says the inclusive designer.

Photo: "Neanderthal Museum", Mettmann, Germany, inkl.Design

We are curious about your projects!

If you think you have a creative answer to this worldwide challenge, or if you have projects and products in the field of experience technology that you would like to present on XPRO’s online and onsite marketplace, please get in touch!

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XPRO is a new interdisciplinary European B2B marketplace for experience technologies, products, and services and brings together the diversity of technologies and their potential applications in cultural, entertainment and brand spaces. To this end, we develop relevant communication formats for digital and physical spaces that connect creatives from our community with international clients and collaboration partners throughout the year. Please DM us if you would also like to be a part of this community!