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Mozaic Posts

Last of Us Part II: Inclusive Design & Video Games

Naughty Dog Studios recently released Last of Us Part 2, a video game with over 60 inclusive design affordances built right in to help gamers of all abilities enjoy this title. From vibrotactile feedback to increased contrast and text to speech, and so much more, this video game goes above and beyond to deliver a best in class accessible experience in a mainstream title.

It is not often that we find ourselves truly impressed by the sheer range, quality, and thoughtfulness of accessibility features in a single offering. The team at Naughty Dog, the gamers with disabilities who contributed countless hours of testing and advice, and the advocates that have spent decades fighting for video games to include more audiences deserve a round of applause for the hard work that has gone into this title.

We really enjoyed reading Victor Branco’s review of the game. He details all the features that enable him, as a gamer with low vision, to play the game. The PlayStation blog also has a detailed listing of all the accessibility features in the game.

The Last of Us Part 2 video game screenshot shows high contrast blue and red figures on a grey background with a yellow bottle in the foreground.
A screenshot from The Last of Us Part 2 video game in high-contrast mode.

Unmute Art

As members of the MuseWeb GLAMi team since 2007 (formerly MW’s BoW), we have been intimately aware of the vast number of international projects submitted, reviewed, and awarded for innovation within the sector. Over this time we have encouraged change towards increasing the importance of inclusive design within the criteria for submissions and in judging formulas. This year it was incredibly refreshing and inspiring to see a project win Best of the GLAMi Awards that was uniquely focused on both inclusion and accessibility.

Unmute Art is a project created by Orpheo for the Andy Warhol Exhibition at the Pietrasanta Basilica in Napoli. This video-guide facilitates the delivery of interpretation through Italian Sign Language (ISL). Using Augmented Reality (AR), the user recognizes the relevant Andy Warhol piece, which provokes the video overlay. Actors were filmed in character matching the subject of the work, and the prompted video delivers the work’s interpretation through ISL.

Not only is the interpretive content made accessible to a historically marginalized community, but the experience is made rich and meaningful, facilitating the enjoyment and education of Warhol’s work by ISL signers, in their first language, without (critically) requiring they look away from the work as they receive the interpretation. This can be done at the same time as those receiving the interpretation in Italian via audio-guide interpretation. A meaningful project that was no doubt fun to produce and can be a great model for other GLAMs (galleries, libraries, archives, museums) to further iterate and build upon.

ISL signing actor made-up to look like the subject of an Andy Warhol art work. The work is highly stylized with boosted brightness and contrast reducing visual detail, and the actor is wearing a yellow sweater with black polkadots, green eye shadow, and set against a solid red background.
Italian Sign Language (ISL) fluent actors were made to resemble the subjects of Andy Warhol’s work so they could deliver seamless interpretation of his works via ISL without necessitating patrons look away from the art in order to view the interpretation.

Tactile Art Commission

“How I Came to Ottawa” by Acadian-Métis artist Eric Walker in 2017 is exhibited at the Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG) and is the gallery’s first special commission of a touchable art work.

The associated label calls attention through text and iconography that the work is intended to be touched. In fact the label invites visitors to “Please Touch!” the artwork. The relief, the materials used, the geometry of its components, and its explicitly detectable edges encourage multi-sensory exploration – visual and tactile.

Animal Relief Area

The Elmira, NY Airport offers a simple and effective animal relief area post security. Complete with fire hydrant, artificial turf, drain, cleanup facilities, etc. it is an excellent example of a janitorial room that has been converted into an affordance of great practical use for many, in particular for those accompanied by service and/or support animals.

Animal relief area inside an airport consists of a red fire hydrant placed on a patch of artificial turf with a nearby coiled hose, bench, sink, and trash and compost.
The animal relief area post security at the Elmira, NY airport.

Hanguel: Alphabet by Design

Literally sitting in the shadow of the National Museum of Korea is the National Hanguel Museum. Hanguel or Hangul is the Korean alphabet. The design story that is Hanguel should be a case study taught across all design disciplines.

The Hanja (Chinese) alphabet, or character set, numbers over 50,000 with each user knowing, on average, 8000 characters. This character set was in use by Koreans until the 15th Century when King Sejong designed Hanguel in an attempt to raise the very low literacy rates amongst the Korean population. Hanguel is the written Korean alphabet and was fully adopted as the national alphabet in 1894. It consists of 24 characters, based on 8 letter shapes mapped to the 5 basic mouth and tongue positions used by the vocal system for consonants, and 3 vowels representing the sky, the earth, and the human.

Translated into glyphs this alphabet is extremely easy to learn and use. The design and introduction of Hanguel has drastically increased literacy rates in Korea. Both South and North Korea now have literacy rates above 98%. This has no doubt played a key role in the unparalleled economic success, social development, and overall inclusive positioning of South Korea in such a short period (since the 1960s).

Braille on Handrails

The braille affixed to this handrail (at the National Museum of Korea in Seoul) is a great way of surfacing information, such as location and orientation within designed wayfinding systems.

Looking from above a braille label is on a handrail of a staircase, with yellow foot braille in the top step.
Metallic blue and white braille label on handrail of stairs at the National Museum of Korea.

Elevator Seating in Sweden

It was great to see the inclusion of low profile foldable seating inside this elevator in Malmö, Sweden. An excellent example of an in-elevator seating affordance.