AUXie: Initial evaluation of a blind-accessible virtual museum tour

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Conference Proceeding
ACM International Conference Proceeding Series, 2010, pp. 272 - 275
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Remotely accessible audio-based virtual tours can offer great utility for blind or vision impaired persons, eliminating the difficulties posed by travel to unfamiliar locations, and allowing truly independent exploration. This paper draws upon sonification techniques used in previous implementations of audio-based 3D environments to develop a prototype of blind-accessible virtual tours specifically tailored to the needs of cultural sites. A navigable 3D world is presented using spatially positioned musical earcons, accompanied by synthesised speech descriptions and navigation aids. The worlds are read from X3D models enhanced with metadata to identify and describe the rooms and exhibits, thus enabling an audio modality for existing 3D worlds and simplifying the tour creation process. The prototype, named AUXie, was evaluated by 11 volunteers with total blindness to establish a proof of concept and identify the problematic aspects of the interface. The positive response obtained confirmed the validity of the approach and yielded valuable insight into how such tours can be further improved. Copyright the author(s) and CHISIG.
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