Karina Morgan and Kylie Neagle introduce the Richard Llewellyn Deaf and Disability Arts program

AGSA has launched a new-look audio guide, one accessible to all our visitors.

Gallery programs have been steadily growing for our deaf, hard of hearing, blind and vision-impaired audiences – from Auslan- interpreted lunchtime talks, tours and openings, to interactive sessions for students from the South Australian School for the Vision Impaired. With support from ArtsSA and the Richard Llewellyn Deaf and Disability Arts program, we have developed an Accessible Audio Guide, featuring commentaries on twelve works of art in the Australian Art collection. We hope to expand on this number over time.

When using the Accessible Audio Guide, visitors have the option to watch Auslan videos, read transcripts, listen to either audio-described works of art or straight audio files. All of these options assist and support audiences to engage with works of art in a new way. Accessing this guide on handheld devices anywhere – in the Gallery, or using any device with internet access – ensures that anyone, including families and friends who may have different needs, can have an enjoyable social experience together.

The Accessible Audio Guide was designed following wide- ranging community consultations, with the Auslan videos presented by four members of the local Deaf community, including young emerging artist William Maggs. Following a visit to the Robert Hannaford exhibition at the Gallery in 2016, William was inspired to become a portrait painter.

Hoping to refine his portrait skills, he participated in a full-day portraiture workshop, later displaying his work in the Gallery’s Transforming Techniques exhibition in 2019, in which his self- portrait was awarded the SALA prize. William was excited about being involved in the Accessible Audio Guide project commenting that: giving the deaf community access to visual arts information, using the most beautiful visual language in the world, Auslan, is important to allow deaf people to feel included and provide people a way to interact with art.

The Accessible Audio Guide aims to encourage remote users to learn about our collection, with the aim of enticing them to visit in person and perhaps attend one of our access programs. Regular AGSA visitor Noel Heinrich appreciates this innovation at the Gallery and says: I have travelled to many places around the world. Deaf people are not thought about in a typical museum experience. I tell my friends to come to Auslan tours at AGSA because it brings stories and works of art to life and helps to build art appreciation and enjoyment.

Karina is Education Support Officer and Kylie is Education Officer at AGSA. This article first appeared in AGSA Magazine Issue 39, 2020.