Thursday, October 11, 2012

i-loview, Accessible Technology!

This season Shelburne Museum received a generous gift from the Vermont-based accessible technology company, Ai Squared -- two i-loview handheld video magnifiers for  visually impaired museum visitors. Equipped with sophisticated cameras, the devices allow users to see an image up to 32 times its original size.

Intern Nina uses an i-loview magnifier on an Art at Hand tour of the Ticonderoga
We have put the magnifiers to good use in our Art at Hand program for the visually impaired. We've used them, for example, to see the tiny anchor pattern that dots the dining room carpet on the steamboat Ticonderoga. Later this month we will employ them at the General Store for up-close look at objects behind the counter or high up on the shelves. The i-loview magnifiers have been indispensable on these special tours.
Now, the devices are even more accessible to our visitors. Through closing day on October 28th they are available to check out at the Information Desk just behind the Museum Store!

Anne displays the i-loview magnifiers now available for visitors to check out at the Information Desk
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Rebecca White, Marketing Project Manager at Ai Squared, who wrote her own article about Art at Hand on their "Zoomed In" blog. She explains that while the company's flagship product, ZoomText magnification and reading software, has been on the market for over twenty years, the i-loview is an innovative development in accessible hardware. "We do everything we can to stay on top of technology," she says. "The i-loview helps our customers on the go--whether they're at the grocery store or an art museum." The device, White emphasizes, allows people who are visually impaired to "stay connected to the world and maintain their sense of independence."

White expresses a passionate belief that cultural institutions should be accessible to the tight-knit community of visually impaired Vermonters whom Ai Squared knows well. The company moved to the southern part of the state 1992 and, as she describes, its corporate culture just "feels Vermont." Then she pauses, realizing that, "maybe that only makes sense to Vermonters!" Certainly we at Shelburne Museum take pride in our deep regional connections and are glad to establish a partnership with such an esteemed local business. Ai Squared makes it a point to give back to the state they call home, and we thank them heartily for their generosity.

Update: If you'd like to learn more about Art at Hand, check out this article published in the Burlington Free Press on Sunday, October 21st.

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