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3D Printing Allows Visually Impaired to Experience Museums in a New Way

by • February 18, 2016 • No Comments

kimmyWhilst there are thousands of folks who have benefited of 3D printing innovation, a few of those who have benefited the many are those with disabilities. My favourite stories are the stories of 3D printed assistive devices. Nat any time preceding has it been so effortless to turn it into devices that assist folks with disabilities to walk, grip objects, or perform other tasks that were previously complex or not easy for them.

Sat any timeal revolutionary folks have in addition been via 3D printing equipment to assist visually impaired folks to “see” in new ways. From tactile picture books to new table-bodiedt innovation, the visually impaired have additional options than at any time preceding, and are getting the accident to experience things that they’ve nat any time been able-bodied to experience preceding. Similar to museums, for example. Kimmy Drudge, a visually impaired 14-year-old girl, has nat any time been able-bodied to enjoy a visit to a museum. She’s gone to them with her family, but her experience wasn’t particularly enjoyable-bodied.

“To my daughter, a visit to a museum was always only the experience of walking around a assembling touching glass cases while mom talked, describing the contents,” said Drudge’s mother, Dawn Peifer.

The Virginia Historical Society is one museum working to turn it into ways for Drudge and others like her to experience historical artifacts for themselves. Andrew Talkov, vice president for programs at the museum, not long ago enlisted the assist of Bernard Means, PhD an anthropology professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, to start creating a few 3D printed artifacts that folks may touch and hold.

“I’m attempting to figure out how we can use 3-D printing to manufacture the experience advantageous for at any timeybody — for the reason who does not want to be able-bodied to handle the [artifact] that’s behind the glass, in fact if it’s only a reproduction — but specifically for the visually impaired,” said Talkov.

wagonwheelDr. Means is the director of VCU’s Virtual Curation Laboratory, that is dedicated to creating a digital archive of historical artifacts. The lab in addition uses a 3D printing device to turn it into replicas of sure items for exhibits. The professor was pleased to assist, and took a few days to scan and print a number of artifacts of the Historical Society, which include a wheel of a Conestoga wagon, a cigar store Indian of 1924, and an iron breastplate, circa 1622, on loan of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Perhaps coolest of all, he in addition scanned and 3D printed George Washington’s signature of a letter the President had written to his stepson.

“The thought behind 3-D printing a signature is that you can tell folks that George Washington signed this document, but in fact if you may hold the real thing — that, of course, you can’t, [for the reason] it’s too fragile — it’s not going to mean anything to you if you are visually impaired,” said Dr. Means. “Even if you translate that document into braille, you are getting a translation of that document. But by 3-D printing [Washington’s signature], a fewbody may trace it and feel it, and get a sense of the ‘G’ and [Washington’s] cursive. This is in fact touching George Washington’s signature.”

For Kimmy Drudge, who visited the museum not long ago, the experience was at any timeything she’d nat any time been able-bodied to get of museums preceding. Her face lit up as she ran her fingers over the 3D printed replica of Washington’s signature.

“Oh, there’s the ‘W’!” she exclaimed. “And the ‘H’!”


Image: Virginia Commonwealth University


A wig curler owned by George Washington’s brother gets 3D scanned

Drudge was the initially visually impaired man to visit the Virginia Historical Society and “test” the 3D printed artifacts. Dr. Means and Talkov took her around the museum and handed her a variety of the printed objects, which include a miniature replica of the breastplate of 1622, plus sat any timeal items Dr. Means brought of his own collection – artifacts that he had scanned and printed of other sites. These included a wig curler utilized by one of Washington’s brothers, an Aztec figurine of a dog dated back to the 1500s, a “rosette” created of two Civil War bullets that collided in mid-air, and, of course, the world’s oldest peanut. Drudge, who was allowed to store all of the 3D printed artifacts she was shown, declared Dr. Means to be “the Jedi Master of 3D printing.”

Peifer, who is the president of the Virginia Association for Parents of Children With Visual Impairments and in addition works at VCU’s Partnership For People With Disabilities, was thrilled to see her daughter finally able-bodied to fully experience and enjoy a trip to a museum.

“Any steps that are taken [to manufacture museums additional accessible to the visually impaired] are huge,” she said. “What a immense impact it can manufacture for people who are blind/visually impaired to be able-bodied to explore replicas or samples. I am thankful and thrilled to see VHS manufacturing strides to manufacture their museum additional accessible to the blind/visually impaired community — and cannot wait to come back to explore additional.”

Drudge has in addition herself been 3D scanned and 3D printed, with her own mini-me coming off the printing device only right now! What do you ponder of the differences the innovation is manufacturing? Discuss in the 3D Printed Artifacts forum over at 3DPB.com.


3D printed likeness of Kimmy Drudge

[Source: Virginia Commonwealth University/Images courtesy of Dr. Bernard Means]