Tunisian museums made accessible to the visually-impaired

Newly appointed Tunisian Culture Minister Walid Zidi, who is blind, announced on Saturday, the start of the project.
Tuesday 22/09/2020
A view of Roman statues and mosaics on display at the Bardo National Museum, which houses one of the largest collections of Roman mosaics in the world. (AFP)
A view of Roman statues and mosaics on display at the Bardo National Museum, which houses one of the largest collections of Roman mosaics in the world. (AFP)

TUNIS – Tunisia’s visually-impaired citizens and tourists will soon be able to enjoy a visit to two of Tunisia’s top museums in Bardo and Sousse thanks to a new initiative providing them with specialised access.

The “museums for all” initiative will develop applications providing self-guided tours of the country’s heritage, civilisation and archaeological treasures.

Tunisia boasts the largest collection of Roman mosaics in the world, mostly on display in the Bardo Museum in Tunis.

Newly-appointed Tunisian Culture Minister Walid Zidi, who is blind, announced on Saturday the start of the project by the Braille Association for Education and Culture in partnership with the 3D Wave company, the National Agency of Heritage Development and Cultural Promotion and the National Heritage Institute.

During the press conference, the culture minister said such initiatives help integrate Tunisia’s blind and visually impaired citizens and allow them to appreciate Tunisia’s heritage, civilisation and various archaeological collections.

Zidi called on other Tunisian museums to adopt and support similar initiatives.

Tunisian Culture Minister Walid Zidi announces the launch of the “Museums for All” project, at the Sousse Museum. (Culture Ministry official page).
Tunisian Culture Minister Walid Zidi announces the launch of the “Museums for All” project, at the Sousse Museum. (Culture Ministry official page).

Ahmed Charfi, the project’s president, told The Arab Weekly that “this ambitious initiative, which is still on its first steps, will provide brochures and leaflets written in Braille script and presenting the museums’ holdings and collections, apps and smart devices that will replace the ‘human’ guide and help in positioning.”

Charfi added that 40 artifacts will be digitally scanned and available for blind and visually impaired guests to feel through 3d technology.

 Ahmed Charfi presents the “museums for all” initiative (facebook)
 Ahmed Charfi presents the “museums for all” initiative (facebook)

The project also aims to commission a digital printing unit to write and translate scientific texts in Braille, as well as make the National Agency of Heritage Development and Cultural Promotion’s website fully accessible to blind and visually impaired guests.

Sousse Archaeological Museum. (wikipedia)
Sousse Archaeological Museum. (wikipedia)

The “museums for all” project was launched in 2019 in the Bardo Museum with a free application called “Bardo up.” It provides printed objects reproducing mosaics and sculptures supplemented with Braille texts in Arabic, French and English.