Wimbledon Museum Launches Innovative Sign Language Guides

Rose Shillito | 18 January 2007
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Three people holding e-guides

Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum has improved access for the deaf community with its cutting-edge hand-held device.

State-of-the-art sign language e-guides have been introduced at the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum. The system will enable deaf visitors to enjoy a tour of the new interactive museum using cutting-edge hand-held video technology.

On arriving at the museum, deaf visitors will be given a hand-held device that has been specially designed for their use. The screen will show a series of three signing e-guides who will take them on a tour, showing them around the exhibits, providing anecdotes about tennis heroes past and present, and bringing the history of one of the world’s greatest sporting arenas to life.

In order to help meet its obligations to improve access under the provisions of the UK Disability Discrimination Act, the museum enlisted the help of accessible multimedia specialists EyeGaze.

Close-up of hand-held device

The screen will show video of signing e-guides who will take sign language users on a a tour of the museum.

“Putting the sign language presentation together for Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum was a challenge and a thrill,” explained Mick Canavan, Director of EyeGaze.

“With our knowledge of sign language and our close contact with the deaf community, we selected three main presenters who do a fantastic job of communicating the excitement of Wimbledon and its history in a friendly, one-to-one style.”

“The response from deaf visitors has been terrific and we hope that visitor attractions across the country will be encouraged to commission similar multimedia guides to improve access for deaf and disabled people,” added Canavan.

Kids holding e-guides

The response from deaf visitors has been terrific.

The museum was keen to make access to its services to the wider community a key priority. “From the outset we wanted to make the museum as accessible to as many people as possible,” explained Honor Godfrey, curator of Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum. “We are delighted with the result and consider it a very exciting method of interpretation.”

The innovative system ensures that deaf sign language users get a real understanding of the history and personalities of Wimbledon, and enables them to participate fully in all of the facilities.

In the museum’s 200° wide-screen cinema, deaf visitors will be able to experience the excitement of playing at the most famous tennis court in the world – Centre Court. The action plays out all around the visitor and reveals the shot-by-shot thrills of a Maria Sharapova match.

Group of visitors in the museum's 200 degree cinema

In the thick of the action, visitors enjoy the museum's 200° cinema.

In another exciting use of the technology, tennis legend John McEnroe appears as a 3-D hologram walking through a recreation of the 1980s gentlemen’s dressing room, talking to deaf visitors via a sign language presenter.

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