In view of the former stage’s experiences (prototype), this stage’s purpose is the construction of pilots, i. e., test versions for each type of accessible item, made with permanent materials.
In the case of the Wise Stones, the team’s goal was to produce interactive interfaces with the same functionalities of the prototype, presenting varied samples of the minerals. Those interfaces would be incorporated into the museum’s permanent exhibit. However, instead of finishing all interfaces at once, priority was given to the pilot project. Therefore, after the tests with this pilot, the other interfaces would be improved and executed.
Wise Stones Pilot
Some of the characteristics of the final pilot project are given below, as well as its advancements in comparison with the prototype:
- Number of samples increased from 4 to 5.
- Modification of the sensors’ triggering system. In the pilot version, for safety reasons, the samples remain attached to the display by a steel cable, whereas, in the prototype, the mineral samples were loose. When the mineral sample is handled, the sensor is triggered when the cable is lifted up, playing the audio recording and showing the images corresponding to that sample. There is still the possibility of obtaining comparative information, by handling two samples at the same time.
- Use of a flat-screen TV instead of the projector, presenting a better cost/benefit in terms of acquisition, maintenance and definition/quality. Not every visually impaired person has total visual loss. Great part of the visually impaired population has a low visual capacity, i. e., a very small visual perception. Therefore, many visitors benefit from the enlargement of images on the screen, since they can better view colors and details.
- The projection of texts associated with the images was maintained, helping deaf visitors who can read the vernacular.
- Furniture with a larger, more refined and solid design, in lacquered black MDF, designed by a company specialized in exhibit scenography. Considering that the emphasis is on the samples, as well as the atmosphere of luminous contrasts in the museum, a neutral and dark design was preferred, making the display shelf “disappear” and highlighting its content. At the pilot stage, therefore, the furniture color was changed from white to black.
- On the screen, a subtitled image invites the visitor to experience the interface, while the audio message says, “hold a sample” with soft background music.
The pilot version of the Wise Stones Project remained on display at the Mines and Metal Museum – MM Gerdau in two distinct places: next to the Starry Floor, in the second floor and, later, at the Noble Hall. Both researchers and visitors (with and without visual impairment) were invited to test the interactive interface.
Post-Use Evaluation and its importance
Post-use evaluation has shown that the narration of the Fossilized Wood sample was not enlightening enough for persons with total visual loss. Fossilized wood, also known as petrified wood, is formed when the wood’s original cellulose is replaced with mineral substances over time.
The phenomenon occurs when trees remain buried for millions of years. Therefore, the sample has the texture of a piece of wood, but is cold as a mineral, confusing the visually impaired. The narrated text was, then, rewritten and re-recorded, in order to clarify the transformation process of wood into mineral.
This example shows the importance of a pilot exhibit, testing it with the target group. An accessibility and inclusion project is built with the effective participation of users during all its stages.
The improvement points for the next circuit interfaces were identified from the tests performed, evaluating also the changes already implemented with respect to the prototype. This is the so-called PDCA Cycle: “Plan, Do, Check and Act”.
Like the prototype, the pilot version received the users’ approval. The excellent results of the evaluations confirmed the proposal of having a consolidated Interactive Interface Accessible Circuit at the Mines and Metal Museum – MM Gerdau.
Ibermuseums Education Award
The Interactive Interface Accessible Circuit won 4th place at the 7th Ibermuseums Education Award – Category II (projects in the development phase), organized by the Ibermuseums Program, an initiative for cooperation and integration of Ibero-American countries for the promotion and articulation of public policies in the field of museums and museology. The Program receives support, among others, from the OEI (Organization of Ibero-American States).
That edition of the Award had the participation of 167 projects from 18 different countries, and the Wise Stones Circuit was the only Brazilian project to receive an award in 2016.
The museum was awarded 10 thousand dollars, to be reinvested in the Project. Such funds allowed the construction of new interactive displays, detailed in the next stage, and the publication of this Guidebook in online, PDF and printed versions.