The Accessible Aquarium Project

Bruce Walker, Sonification Lab, Psych/GVU, Carrie Bruce, CATEA

The accessible aquarium.

Over 150 million people visit zoos and aquaria each year ensuring an audience with diverse access and learning needs. In these settings, there is heavy emphasis on the visual experience and conveyance of information through visual methods. The Accessible Aquarium Project is making these dynamic environments more engaging and accessible to visitors with vision impairments by providing real-time interpretation of exhibits through innovative tracking, music, and narrations.

The primary activities of this project include:

  • Developing cutting edge bio-tracking and behavior analysis techniques that track movements in an exhibit
  • Investigating the strategies and technologies that zoo and aquarium staff use to convey educational information
  • Identifying the needs and preferences of visitors interacting with and learning from exhibits
  • Building and evaluation a real-time audio interpretation system

More Information on the Project:

The project has resulted in the following selected outputs:


  • Bruce, C. (2008). Accessible design practices and informal learning environments. In Proceedings of the International Conference on Aging, Disability and Independence, St. Petersburg, FL.
  • Bruce, C. (2008). Best practices for exhibits in informal learning environments. In Proceedings of the International Council for Building (CIB), Working Commission 084 Meeting, Atlanta, GA.
  • Walker, B., Godfrey, M., Orlosky, J., Bruce, C., and Sanford, J. (2006). Aquarium sonification: Soundscapes for accessible dynamic informal learning environments. In Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Auditory Display, London, UK, June 20-23.


  • Bruce, C. (2008). Planning for participation. The Georgia Association of Museums and Galleries Annual Conference, Columbus, GA.
  • Bruce, C. (2008). User experiences and best practices: Universal design in ILEs. Paper presented to St. Francis University Research Methods Course, Tampa, FL.
  • Bruce, C., Bryant, E., and Sanford, J. (2006). Model exhibits for informal learning environments. Paper presented at the Fourth Annual Hawaii International Conference on Arts and Humanities.
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