Multi-sensory video guide in Italian sign language

Bridging silence: The innovative path for the deaf at the Cathedral Museum

Dream: The Cathedral Museum embarked on an ambitious project to transform its monumental complex into an accessible journey for deaf people. Inspired by other museums' efforts to cater to sensory disabilities, this initiative aimed to create an inclusive experience that would allow deaf visitors to fully engage with the museum's art and history.

Idea: The project was conceived as a video gallery that would be accessible through sign language, interactive animations, and subtitles. Collaboration with experts and associations specializing in sensorial disabilities, like Alessandra Biagianti from "Comunico" and the mediation of Association PRISMA, was crucial. The content creation involved art historians and the museum's artistic director, with essential input from deaf individuals to ensure relevance and accuracy.

Realization: The result was a comprehensive video guide available on tablets provided by the museum and through the #MuseoDuomo app, compatible with both iOS and Android devices. This guide features Italian Sign Language (LIS), aiming to make the museum's vast collection fully accessible to deaf visitors.

Challenges and solutions: One of the project's initial challenges was selecting the appropriate content and translating complex artistic narratives into sign language without losing their essence. Collaboration with deaf individuals and specialists ensured the content was both accurate and engaging. While there were considerations to include British Sign Language or an international sign language, the project ultimately remained in Italian to best serve its initial target audience.

Innovation: This initiative represents a significant step forward in museum accessibility, focusing on a user-centric approach to cater to deaf visitors. The innovation lies not in the technology itself but in its application to create a museum experience that is inclusive of people with hearing disabilities.

Effect: The project has received positive feedback from the deaf community, earning a place on the official list of museums accessible to deaf people. The recognition from the National Association of Deaf People (ENS) and positive remarks from non-deaf museum visitors highlight the project's impact and success.

Target audience: Primarily aimed at individuals with hearing disorders, the project also enriches the museum experience for all visitors, demonstrating the universal value of accessibility and inclusivity in cultural institutions.

Sustainability: The project is a model of social and economic sustainability, demonstrating how accessibility initiatives can be implemented with a modest budget. Its replicability is significant, showing other institutions that creating such accessible pathways is feasible and highly valuable.

Digital tools: Utilizing straightforward technological tools, such as the #MuseoDuomo app and tablets for video guides, the project emphasizes innovation in content delivery rather than in new technology. These tools are designed to be user-friendly, ensuring that the focus remains on accessibility and engagement.

Funding: With a total budget of €12,500, financed internally by the museum, the project showcases efficient use of resources to achieve significant societal impact. This budgetary allocation underlines the museum's commitment to inclusivity and cultural accessibility.

Plans: Looking ahead, the museum aspires to expand the project to include other sign languages, enhancing its accessibility for a global deaf audience. This ambition reflects the museum's dedication to breaking down barriers and making art accessible to diverse communities, regardless of sensory abilities.

Responsible institution: Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore
Contact person on good practice: Barbara Fedeli, Responsible for accessibility,