A new NZSL Mobile Guide at Te Papa

A new NZSL Mobile Guide at Te Papa

NZSL, or New Zealand Sign Language, is one of New Zealand’s three official languages. Now Te Papa has a new NZSL Mobile Guide, a new mobile-optimised web application for Deaf visitors and online audiences. Digital Producer Amos Mann takes us through the project.

Watch a version of this post in NZSL, presented by Museums and Heritage NZSL Consultant Theresa Cooper.

From the community – for the community

The idea for a mobile guide in NZSL came from the Deaf community. The mobile guide was planned, developed, and produced by Te Papa working closely with the Deaf community including through creative co-design and User Experience Design testing.

The project was funded by the NZSL Fund. It included support from Deaf Aotearoa and Arts Access Aotearoa; with creative NZSL video production and Deaf presenter talent casting from Deafradio; and with guidance and Deaf consultancy services from Museums and Heritage professional Theresa Cooper.

Two hands holding a mobile phone with a guide to Te Papa museum in New Zealand Sign Language on the screen
Te Papa NZSL Mobile Guide landing page, 2021. Te Papa

We kicked off the project with a co-design workshop, run with representatives of Deaf organisations, members of the Deaf community, and internal staff. Through activities like journey mapping, we learned what it’s like to visit the museum as a Deaf person, and what the community wanted the project goals to be.

We based the experience on a standard visitor journey. Most visitors want to know: What’s at the museum? Therefore, in NZSL, we provide an overview, as well as introductions to major permanent exhibitions. Some visitors want to know about top attractions. Therefore, we developed a highlights tour, basing it on existing, hosted tours for hearing visitors.

Two ways to experience the NZSL Mobile Guide

What’s at Te Papa

Seven videos that provide visitors with orientation information and introductions to some of Te Papa’s permanent exhibitions, including Te Taiao | Nature; Gallipoli: the scale of our war; Toi Art; and Rongomaraeroa – our marae that all cultures can feel at home on.

View the orientation videos on your device

Take a Tour

Thirteen videos provide visitors with a guided tour of some of our top attractions, including the Waharoa (gateway), the moa and Haast’s eagle in Te Taiao | Nature, the Earthquake House, the colossal squid, the Britten V1000 motorcycle, and Phar Lap the horse.

View the tours on your device

When you next visit, you’ll see promotional and on-boarding print graphics installed throughout the museum that show which exhibits have NZSL content on the Mobile Guide. You can use the QR code printed on the graphic to go straight to the content, or simply type in the short web addresses provided.

A split image showing two different exhibits in a museum with a blue dot next to the label. The blue dot has words and symbols on it.
On-boarding print graphics promoting and linking to the Te Papa NZSL Mobile Guide, 2021. Photos by Bas van Druten. Te Papa

Plan your visit

We also have an NZSL page on our website to help you plan your visit:

Plan your visit with our NZSL page

When you arrive here at Te Papa, you’ll see a Welcome video and an Orientation video playing on screens in the foyers on Levels 1 and 2. These were also created as part of this project.

Just the beginning

Te Papa NZSL Mobile Guide project marks the beginning of a new phase of development and community engagement towards increasing accessibility at Te Papa.

This project has raised Deaf culture and language awareness with staff at Te Papa, and through this project we’ve developed tools such as best practice guidelines for when we are developing content for translation into NZSL in the future.

We’ve learned a lot from this project and we’ll keep working with the Deaf community, Deaf organisations, Deaf professionals, and Deaf businesses as part of our goal of continuous improvement of accessibility at Te Papa. And, as well, we’ve already begun sharing what we’ve learned with the wider sector.

It makes me feel very proud to work for Te Papa when I see the NZSL guides and how seamlessly the 3 official languages sit side-by-side. ­­­– Te Papa staff member feedback

The Te Papa NZSL Mobile Guide was evaluated in Focus Group sessions with members of the Deaf community. After using the Guide in the museum, some focus group participants reported an increase in their confidence as a visitor and an increased sense of belonging at Te Papa.

The majority of focus group participants felt that the Te Papa NZSL Mobile Guide increases accessibility and increases the visibility of NZSL at Te Papa, and that the Guide has the potential to increase the positive experience of Deaf visitors to Te Papa.

Love it that I can access the museum info in my language NZSL. Thank you! ­– Visitor feedback form

The Te Papa NZSL Mobile Guide is a 2021 Designers Institute of New Zealand Best Awards Public Good Award Finalist.

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