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Auslan app at NGV

18 Sep 2012

Auslan app at NGV Image

The National Gallery of Victoria’s (NGV) Napoleon exhibition had world-leading technology installed last month, when the Australian Communications Exchange (ACE) introduced Auslan to the audio tour.

The new devices (or apps that you can download on your own smartphone) display the audio tour in Auslan sign language, meaning for the first time people who are deaf or have a hearing impairment are able to enjoy the audio tour.

The launch was attended by many dignitaries within the deaf and hearing-impaired community as well as members of ACE, NGV and Victorian Shadow Minister for Disability Services Danielle Green.

ACE director of strategy and planning Zoe Boyd said the number of Australians who use Auslan sign language as their first language was estimated at between 10,000 and 15,000.

“When people think and talk about accessibility they often think about physical attributes of a building and tactile options for those with vision impairments. Very few think about the growing number of deaf and hearing impaired Australians who miss important cultural and tourism experiences,” Ms Boyd said.

 “There are some astounding figures about the number of Australians who might be isolated from the full education and entertainment experience provided by these (audio) tours.”

Ms Green said she had just been on a break to Europe and had not seen anything like this.

“I did visit a lot of the beautiful cultural institutions of Europe, many galleries, many churches and you do get those little packs and you put the headphones on and you can switch to English, French, Italian, Spanish, German and I’m really proud that here in Melbourne we’ll have a channel that says, turn to Auslan,” Ms Green said.

“I think that it is really important that everyone in the community should have access to our cultural institutions,” she said.

NGV deputy director Andrew Clarke said this new technology was indicative of the general direction many art galleries around the world are heading, saying: “It fits into the new ways arts museums are working. We’ve had this big shift in our sector from this emphasise on the object, to an emphasis on the audience. So thinking about who is coming,

how they’re engaging with us, what can we do for the community?”

Melissa Lowrie, the Manager of Deaf Victoria, told the crowd that she had felt disconnected to art galleries in the past.

“Seeing the Smart Auslan technology I feel that people will become more involved with the artwork, listen to the stories, see what’s going on out there and perhaps be inspired to become an artist themselves,” Ms Lowrie said.

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