The Sunday Times says

Tech widens access to arts and culture

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Technology in arts and cultural institutions can be both a blessing and a curse, as recent examples show. There was a minor furore over the lack of Chinese-language captions at the National Gallery Singapore's Georgette Chen: At Home In The World. The Gallery did offer additional Chinese-language information via its GalleryExplorer app. But to access it, one needed a smartphone, an understanding of QR codes and the patience to navigate the app's interface. New technology might reduce the need for hard-copy pamphlets, a way to reduce contact during a pandemic, but it may be a barrier for older visitors who are not au fait with digital demands.

Yet, technology can also be a useful tool, as the pilot scheme at the National Museum of Singapore's Home, Truly: Growing Up With Singapore, 1950s To The Present exhibition demonstrates. From Jan 21, visually impaired visitors can explore the show with the aid of a smart navigation cane and a companion app. Accessibility is becoming a greater issue as the population ages, and society seeks to become more inclusive of differently abled people. Arts and cultural institutions can lead the way. This is already happening as museums and heritage institutions are being audited for accessibility. Some older museums, such as the Changi Chapel And Museum and Reflections At Bukit Chandu, will be wheelchair-friendly and have better amenities for people with disabilities when they reopen next year. Museums have also introduced facilities such as quiet rooms for children and programmes such as sign language tours. Theatre groups, too, have become conscious of offering options. Such initiatives are heartening. No doubt there will be hiccups along the way as the use of technology needs to be mediated by good design and consideration for the end-user. But open access is a worthy goal to work towards.

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