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The Warhol launches inclusive audio guide
Out Loud at The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh.

PITTSBURGH, PA.- The Andy Warhol Museum announces the launch of its inclusive audio guide Out Loud developed in collaboration with the Innovation Studio at Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh. Out Loud launches on site October 25, 2016.

Out Loud is designed to be inclusive of museum visitors across abilities. For users who are blind or have low vision, it offers location-based content, screen reader optimization, and enlargeable text. It includes visual descriptions of Andy Warhol artworks and stories about Warhol’s life and art from scholars, curators, museum staff, and Warhol’s friends and family members, including archival audio. It also includes full audio transcripts.

“We’re excited to launch this app that is the direct result of working with community members with visual impairments,” says Desi Gonzalez, The Warhol's manager of digital engagement. “Before we put a single design on paper or wrote a line of code, we talked to community partners who are blind or have low vision about what makes a good museum experience—and a good digital experience. We developed several prototypes along the way and brought in our partners to test them, allowing the feedback to shape the final product.”

“I am very proud to live in a city where a gem, like The Andy Warhol Museum, takes accessibility for all individuals to the next level,” says Erika Arbogast, president of Blind & Vision Rehabilitation Services of Pittsburgh. “Our clients are looking forward to the inclusive audio guide and being able to enjoy the museum utilizing their other senses.”

The audio guide is organized into stories about periods of Warhol’s life, each story containing multiple audio chapters related to an artwork or theme. Stories explore themes such as Warhol’s childhood, commercial work, technique, and world travels. The app also learns a user’s preferences, dynamically changing the order of the audio files in queue based on what each user listens to. When using the app with screen reader technology, the visitor hears the visual description of the artwork immediately after the introduction.

Using beacon technology, this location-aware audio guide recognizes when a visitor is near a beacon associated with an artwork; there is no need to enter a number into the audio guide to access an artwork’s stories. For example, when a visitor is close to a 1932 photograph of Warhol, his mother, and his brother John, the audio guide begins with an introduction, followed by stories about the Warholas, their Carpatho-Rusyn heritage, anecdotes from one of Warhol’s nephews Donald Warhola, archival audio from John Warhola, and more.

To complement Out Loud, The Warhol has also developed tactile reproductions of a selection of Warhol artworks. Tactile reproductions reimagine the contours and colors of an artwork as different relief layers, allowing all visitors to gain an understanding of Warhol’s art through senses beyond sight. Included in the audio guide are narrated guided tactile experiences that guide visitors through the work to understand its composition through touch.

Currently, Out Loud and the tactile diagrams reference artworks on the seventh floor of the museum, the floor devoted to Warhol’s early life and work. The audio guide and tactile reproductions will be expanded to include stories and artwork from additional floors of the museum in the near future.

Devices with Out Loud are available to borrow on site, as well as headphones, neck loops, and audio splitters. Out Loud will be available for free in the Apple App Store soon.

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