Introduction The Seeing Machine Accessing Architecture Retina Prints Visual Language PoetryElizabeth Goldring CollaboratorsVision Group in the Media

Accessing Architecture

For people living with visual impairment, visiting new places unaccompanied can be so terrifying and disorienting that it hardly seems worth the effort.  The Vision Group has developed a setup that is tremendously helpful for these situations.  By using the Seeing Machine in combination with a personal computer, people with low to no vision are able to experience visual images as presented by the computer.  By developing virtual walkthroughs of buildings as computer programs, users are able to navigate through these virtual environments using a joystick interface.  This lets users obtain a sense of the distance that separates different elements, where things are in relation to each other, how the buttons are configured in the elevator, and which way the doors open.  This also allows users to walk through the virtual environment as many times as it takes for them to feel comfortable with it before they ever have to leave their homes. 

The potential for this type of setup has been demonstrated with both purely architectural models and also models of art galleries.  Because paintings for example are visual in nature, it is very difficult for the visually impaired to experience them as they hang on walls.  By recreating museum environments as virtual walkthroughs, visually impaired people could look at artworks before they go to the museums to appreciate the work in situ

In the future, Goldring hopes to make the Seeing Machine work stations readily available to the public to facilitate in home pre-visitation of new environments.  She also hopes to establish an internet database of virtual models of public environments so that access to public places will no longer be restricted by fear of the unknown. 

architectural walk through

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