In 2017, Simon Dogger was the first blind designer to graduate from the Design Academy Eindhoven and wanted a way to have independent access to art that wasn’t limited by specific schedules and led by guides. So, in a collaboration with the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven he developed Feelscape – a concept which interprets 2D content (such as paintings) as 3D objects making them perceptible by touch through position, shape, and material.
The Van Abbemuseum’s reputation for accessibility, diversity, and inclusion is global. After inviting Dogger to make its visual content accessible for the visually impaired, it then acquired Feelscapes for its permanent collection as counterparts to some original works.
Dogger has also developed Tik-Tik, an accessible indoor navigation app that uses vibrations to guide the user to a destination reliably and safely. Again, Dogger and the Van Abbemuseum collaborated to test drive the app’s navigation through its building. Within a mapped spatial environment, the app supplies navigation cues and GPS tracking to the destination art chosen.
Another of Dogger’s accessibility to art concepts is the Emotion Whisperer. This combines an app which has emotion recognition software, and a tool that translates facial language and cues into vibrations, with a pair of camera glasses. Even though it’s relatively straightforward to hear emotion in voices, seeing the emotion of others through visual facial cues is not available to the visually impaired in the same way. With the Emotion Whisperer, a pair of camera glasses sends images of the user’s conversation partner to an app with facial expression recognition which then translates the expressions into a series of tactile signals on the user’s arm.
To develop a product of quality with accessibility, diversity, and inclusion at their heart, Dogger’s approach to access and accessibility encompasses four key characteristics: mental, physical, social and financial – all of which must be achieved within his projects.
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