Introduction/Identify: Team HMNS!

Current Touch Tour models.
Current Touch Tour models.


Our team is excited to work with the Houston Museum of Natural Science to create an educational model for the museum’s Touch Tours. The Touch Tours create unique experiences for patrons with visual impairments, but face challenges when conveying complex concepts like distance. Currently, the museum uses puff paint or wooden models of constellations and moon patterns. We are interested in exploring topics related to astronomy to create an accessible, immersive museum experience for all users. Through user interviews and research, we hope to scope down our current “How Can We” statement:

How can we create tactile educational materials that convey concepts related to astronomy for HMNS’ Touch Tours? 

This week, we completed the Identify stage of the design process. Through primary research and our initial Community Partner meeting, we gained a greater understanding of our problem space. For example, some Touch Tour participants have mobility considerations in addition to visual-impairments, so our prototype should accommodate these users as well. Additionally, we uncovered some assumptions we held about the project. Initially, we assumed the audience of the Touch Tours were kids. In reality, many older adults are Tour regulars! Without the work we completed during the Identify stage, we would have moved into the project with a surface-level understanding of the problem. Our idea of accessibility would have been based on assumptions, like user age range. Now, we are ready to explore this problem space further as we move into Immerse!


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