Monash University researchers “bombed” signage across Melbourne with stickers containing braille to highlight the importance of accessibility, as part of this year’s Melbourne Knowledge Week.
On Wednesday 11 May, experts from the Faculty of Information Technology’s (IT) Inclusive Technologies Research Group took members of the public through the streets of Melbourne for the Braille Bombing Tour.
In the free public session, led by Inclusive Technologies researcher and braille codes expert Leona Holloway, participants learned the braille alphabet, create braille labels and then stuck them on signs.
The goal was to not only send a positive message about accessibility and inclusion, but assist visitors who are blind or have low vision.
“Through braille bombing we are trying to invite people to experience a different world and learn, in a very tangible way, about what it means for our shared urban spaces to be more accessible,” Ms Holloway said.
“As inclusive technology researchers we are exploring how emerging technologies like 3D printing, low-cost electronics, refreshable tactile displays, artificial intelligence, machine learning and computer vision can be used to support the lives of people living with disability while empowering them, their families and communities with shared knowledge.”
The Braille Bombing Tour was presented in partnership with the Australian Braille Authority (ABA), which oversees the development of braille codes and promotes braille as the primary literacy medium for people who are blind or have low vision.
ABA Executive Member and braille proofreader Tristan Clare, said braille labelling is just as important as printed signs, as it offers information about floors in an elevator, provides essential fire safety information and prevents the embarrassment of walking into the wrong toilet.
“Also, if a learner is exposed to braille labelling around their home, school or place of work they are getting some of the incidental reading that sighted people have access to,” she said.
“Braille readers don’t have anywhere near as much access to the written word as sighted people do. Braille labelling could go some way to redressing that balance.
“Braille Bombing is a fun way to promote community awareness of the importance of braille labelling. It would be great if organisations in other cities could also take up the Braille Bombing challenge.”
The Braille Bombing Tour forms part of the Inclusive Technologies Research Group’s Accessible Melbourne installation on 11 May. Visitors can explore the Inclusive Technologies research through four interactive activities:
Braille bombing Melbourne to raise accessibility awareness (Monash University)