Touch Graphics has demonstrated a method for creating low cost signs and exhibit panels that people can interact with directly. Touch one of these panels with your bare skin or while wearing light gloves and you will hear information about the part that you touched. This is like tapping on an iPad to make something happen; but instead of a smooth, flat touch screen, these exhibit panels can include textures, bas-relief, raised lines and other tactile surface treatments. As you poke, pinch or prod the surface, the location and pressure of your finger-touches are sensed, triggering audio description about the part that was touched. This multi-sensory presentation deepens engagement for mainstream users, and allows independent access for visitors with print disabilities, such as visual impairment.
As with any surface that the public is encouraged to touch (ATM screen, door knobs, elevator buttons), hygiene is a priority. Because these exhibit panels are printed in durable waterproof inks, they can be washed or wiped down frequently to keep them looking great. In case of vandalism or other damage, the outer vinyl skin can be peeled off and replaced with a new self-adhesive vacuum-formed skin. Audio can be supplied with headphones or external speakers, and a small text display can be added for captions.
The images and video on this page demonstrate a talking version of The New York Historical Society’s Toussaint L’Ouverture. We have also recently completed a Talking Tactile Exhibit Panel for the San Diego Museum of Art.