Removing Cultural Barriers for People with DisabilitiesNews

How would you enjoy concerts or the theater if you couldn’t hear?
Not everyone can enjoy the cultural events we take for granted.
The Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute has developed an innovative gadget, a portable touch tone system, which delivers the tone of an instrument in the form of vibrations.
This allows the hearing impaired to enjoy the music.
The wearable glove converts sound frequencies into tactile patterns.
It has been used in actual gugak performances allowing hearing-impaired audiences to experience tunes from the daegeum, a Korean bamboo instrument.

“The vibes became more and more in tune, so I could feel the tunes through my heart and fully enjoy the show.”

The developers say this technology could be used for educational purposes.

“People who are hard of hearing are not used to hearing melodies, so it is difficult for them to sing. If they use this system, they will be able to enjoy music like we do and learn the pitches and tones of pedagogical way.”

Yet innovative gadgets cannot achieve their purpose if they are not easily used in real places.
Knowing this, the public theater company has systems in place to improve accessibility for people with disabilities by providing sign language interpretations by on-stage interpreters, captions, and audio or on-screen descriptions. .

“Compared to interpretations for news, those for the arts sector are much more difficult because we have to translate while providing subtle context. We have to think about the intentions of the production team and the actors.”

“It’s important to have this willingness to enjoy the show with people with disabilities, before wondering if it’s possible. It doesn’t have to be perfect. What matters is doing what we can right now.”

The National Theater Company of Korea said it will continue to push the boundaries so that more groups of people can enjoy its shows.

“People with different conditions all have the right to enjoy culture and as a public company we have to offer that. We provide more rooms with services and do the basic minimum.”

Like how breaking the one-inch barrier of subtitles could lead to new experiences, breaking other barriers could help people with disabilities access a whole unexplored world.
Kim Bo-kyoung, Arirang News.

James C. Tibbs