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Wayfinding art

The AGO becomes the first art museum in Canada to partner with BlindSquare, a GPS app designed for people who are blind or partially sighted.

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The Andy Warhol exhibit entry wall at the AGO. A hand extends, holding an iPhone close to the wall. On the illuminated screen, the BlindSquare app appears. Image courtesy of the AGO.

Launched as part of our summer blockbuster exhibition Andy Warhol, the AGO is teaming up with BlindSquarethe world’s most widely used accessible GPS app developed for the blind, deafblind and partially sighted – to present a new wayfinding system to visitors. This special exhibition at the AGO is the first to feature this technology. 

In partnership with BlindSquare, CNIB has brought the accessible technology to countless new places across the country. When it makes its debut at the AGO, this initiative will create a more accessible gallery experience by helping visitors navigate the exhibit safely and independently. 

“BlindSquare’s accessible navigation technology has been integral in helping to break down barriers to inclusion and we’re excited to have the AGO join the BlindSquare network,” says Shane Silver, Vice President of Social Enterprise and Partnership for CNIB. “Art is meant to be enjoyed by everyone. Ultimately, everyone benefits when you make something more accessible.”

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Image courtesy of BlindSquare

So what exactly is it and how does it work? BlindSquare is an indoor navigation system that uses physical Smart Beacons (low-energy Bluetooth devices) and GPS data to assist with self-guided travelling by delivering audio instructions via smartphones. As soon as a user enters the range of a Smart Beacon, they will hear information about their surroundings. When the system is active but no Smart Beacon is in range, a sequence of three beeps will be played in decreasing volume. This will continue until the user is in range of a Smart Beacon, which will initiate faster beeps in a lower pitch. The closer the user is to the Smart Beacon, the faster the beeps will be played. A total of 19 wayfinding beacons are now installed in the AGO, beginning near the main Gallery entrance in Granovsky Gluskin Hall, with 16 placed throughout the Andy Warhol exhibition itself.  Each beacon contains customized navigational information (in both English and French) about the layout of the physical space and descriptions of individual exhibition pieces. Visitors can download the free BlindSquare Event Edition app and listen to the information using their iOS device and enjoy their tour even more. 

This technology will be piloted in lieu of AGO’s traditional Large Print Binders for the exhibition. Large Print Exhibition Text will still be made available online through AGO’s Andy Warhol page and AGO Accessibility page.

Plan your accessible visit today. Timed-entry tickets to Andy Warhol are on sale at AGO.ca. For more information about accessibility at the AGO and the available support we offer, please visit AGO.ca/visit/accessibility-ago.

Accessibility Programs generously supported by:
Greenrock Charitable Trust

Additional assistance from:
Matthew Teitelbaum Fund for Community Access Initiatives

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