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New app debuts for DisArt Festival

The "Access UICA" app was designed specifically for DisArt Festival, and is created to be more inclusive of the needs of Disabled people.
Underwriting support from:
Courtney Jackson, project manager for the Access UICA app

Courtney Jackson, project manager for the Access UICA app /Courtesy of Courtney Jackson

Access UICA app screenshot

Access UICA app screenshot /Courtesy of Courtney Jackson

Access UICA app screenshot

Access UICA app screenshot /Courtesy of Courtney Jackson

"Access UICA" is about inclusivity.

The decision to create a Urban Institure of Contemporary Arts app for DisArt’s centerpiece show, "Art of the Lived Experiment", was born out of research centered around the notion of creating a platform of understanding that was equal for both disabled and able-bodied visitors. Lots of research produced lots of ideas, and in partnership with the Universal Mind team the ideas transformed into a simple yet highly creative and accessible experience.

Universal Mind, a national brand based in Denver with a small office in Grand Rapids, brought an interest in using iBeacon for access and not just commerce, which is its main use now. Currently, iBeacon is known for showing notifications on your phone when you're near a store that has items on sale you may want to buy. Bluetooth technology allows it to sense when it's near a compatible app or operating system. Now, in the Access UICA app, iBeacon works as a personal docent, alerting users on their phone or iPad about the art piece they're near. Its intent is to save searching time. 

The app was specially designed with clarity of language, and like the exhibition, is artist centered. 

Features such as easy swipe scrolling, single tap commands, enlarged photos, and audio components aid in its accessibility. The audio component was written carefully to make sure the language is accessible to all, and the app is compatible with screen readers. UICA is also providing guests the opportunity to check out iPads free of charge to aid in its availability.

We're very excited about this," says Miranda Krajniak, executive director of the UICA. "Courtney Jackson, who's here for a work-study through Kendall College of Art and Design, had the original idea and ran with it, finding our partners, and is the project manager for the app."

"Access UICA" is using technology as a bridge between art and patron to order to provide a rounded experience, aiming to include art gallery goers of all levels of capability.  

Access UICA can be downloaded here.

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