i-Map, the award winning arts resource for visually impaired people, has been updated to provide visitors with audio and new interactive content. Available at BT powered Tate Online (www.tate.org.uk/imap), i-Map is aimed at blind and partially sighted people with a general interest in art as well as art teachers and their visually impaired pupils.
The site originally launched in 2002 when it became the UK’s first online art resource for visually impaired people. Since then, it has received widespread recognition including winning a BAFTA Interactive Entertainment Award for Accessibility in 2002, being short-listed for the Visionary Design Awards in 2002, and receiving a special commendation at the Jodi Mattes Awards 2003.
Working in conjunction with BT, Tate Online has extended the original site with an additional section called The Everyday Transformed which explores the works of six twentieth century artists – Giorgio de Chirico, Fernand Leger, Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, Natalya Goncharova, Patrick Caulfield and Francis Picabia. The original resource, which focused on the works of Matisse and Picasso is also still available.
An integral aspect of the BT facilitated i-Map is raised drawings. Used in conjunction with the text-only facility on the website, the drawings bring to life the visual elements of the art works for those people who have no useful sight. They can be accessed from the raised images on the website and can be ordered from the RNIB Raised Images Service.
Commenting on the initiative, Caro Howell, former Curator for Special Projects at Tate Modern, said:
“i-Map aims to provide a tailor made resource for visually impaired people to engage with the ideas and debates of modern art. Approximately two million people in the UK have difficulty seeing and Tate believes that this should not prevent them from enjoying art.”
Tate Online, is the UK’s No 1 art website, regularly attracting over 800,000 visitors a month. Through the provision of cutting edge online technology, BT has worked with Tate to make art accessible for everyone and the recent additions to i-Map demonstrate this rationale. In the past two years, Tate Online has won two BAFTA interactive entertainment awards for online content. Visitor figures continue to grow and the online gallery attracted over 7 million unique visitors in 2005.