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Mobile Museum Accessibility

Revolutionary War museum drafts Bridge Multimedia to produce
an accessible GPS tour featuring John Turturro

Bridge Multimedia was recently given the opportunity to further expand its development of universally accessible media content - in the form of an accessible online and mobile tour of six pivotal locations within the Revolutionary War's Battle of Brooklyn. The project was commissioned by Old Stone House, an historic museum in Brooklyn, New York. John Turturro, well known actor and Brooklyn resident narrated the tour.

This tour offered Bridge the chance to produce audio description with a twist. Visually rich language would be embedded in the program's regular commentary, offering museum patrons the best of both worlds; the important historical facts of a standard walking tour and the engaging qualities of superior audio description. According to John Cavanagh, Director of Communications for Bridge, "Description Embedded Language is a logical implementation of Universal Design because the description is part of the tour text. The resulting program packs quite a punch — and everyone can enjoy it."

Barbara Ceconi, a nationally-recognized specialist in disability training, who is blind, compared the mobile tour to Ken Burns' famous Civil War documentary. This is precisely the result that Bridge had hoped for. According to Matt Kaplowitz, President of Bridge Multimedia, "We wanted to show that description can be more than a supplementary audio track. We wanted to take a broader, more holistic approach." That approach utilized four specific elements: visually evocative language, a strong narrative voice delivering the commentary, feature film-style sound effects, and dramatic music. These elements combined to conjure up the feeling of the Battle of Brooklyn, while educating people about the battle. Detailed captions completed the picture.

Although a visit to the Old Stone House Revolutionary War museum (located in a charming reconstructed 1699 Dutch farmhouse) makes for a delightful afternoon, the Battle of Brooklyn site tour is available online and can be accessed anytime for free. The Old Stone House website offers an interactive map that provides locations of key events in the Battle of Brooklyn. There is also the option of downloading the tour to a mobile device, connected to a Global Positioning System (GPS). Visitors can take a self-guided tour through the neighborhoods of Brooklyn that were the actual sites of the famous Revolutionary War battle.

"This year is the 235th anniversary of The Battle of Brooklyn—perfect timing for this project," said John Cavanagh. "It was also excellent timing because Bridge is currently immersed in producing audio description so we were able to bring a lot fresh insights to the assignment, particularly Description Embedded Language." Under a five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Bridge is providing audio description for a wide range of quality children's television programming. The Battle of Brooklyn site tour commentaries specifically embed visually descriptive information about the key sites featured within the narrative – what the battle sites looked like in 1776 and what they look like today.

Bridge Multimedia began working on Description Embedded Language more than six years ago for a U.S. Department of Education-funded project called, The Universal eLearner. It uses supplemental material that was of particular use to students with various disabilities. Since then, Bridge has endeavored to provide every project with cross-disability customized content. This is especially helpful when producing a museum tour, because the aesthetics and historic background need to be totally in sync with the exhibit's information, expression, and overall context. The Battle of Brooklyn site tour uses words, information, sound effects, music, video and captions to create an experience of being there now, as well as in 1776.

But don't take our word for it…view the open-captioned videos and visit the Battle of Brooklyn Tour

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