The StoryTrails Experience has been designed to be as accessible as possible. There are three different immersive experiences to try out when you come to the library. All of the activities and content have been designed to be suitable for a broad audience but 12+ is the recommended age for the virtual reality experience. Each experience is described in detail below with some of the key accessibility considerations in mind.
In every location library staff will be on hand to assist you and advise on the accessibility of each experience.
Experience One: The Immersive Cinema Experience
Location: In the library
This experience takes place in a large room within the library with a very large, curved screen. You will hear stories from local people recorded by local creatives. These are set against a backdrop of 3D scans and people and places. This is chance to see your town or city in a completely new way!
A small audience will be admitted to each screening to avoid overcrowding. You may sit or stand in the screening although seating is limited. All rooms are wheelchair accessible. Each screening lasts approximately 30 minutes. All immersive screenings are subtitled.
The immersive cinema does involve some onscreen movement through and around 3D objects. Whilst the experience has been designed to minimise motion sickness it is possible that some viewers might experience nausea. If you experience any discomfort you can simply close your eyes or try a different experience. The sound involves speech, sound effects and loud music so may not be suitable for those with sensory conditions.
The 3D maps of your town and the individual stories can be explored further at viewer’s own pace in an interactive zone in the library via iPads. This content is also subtitled.
Experience Two: The Virtual Reality Experience
Location: In the library and in the StoryTrails van outside the library
Virtual Reality involves a headset worn to completely cover your eyes in order to immerse you in a different world. It is recommended that those taking part wear the headset with headphones for the full immersive experience. VR experiences last 10 mins on average. StoryTrails staff can give guidance on the suitability of each of the seven VR experiences for those with sensory conditions, motion sickness or anxiety. All seven VR experiences are designed for age 12 and above and are the equivalent of a PG rating.
Your VR experience takes place in an open-sided booth within the library to allow you to safely move around in the headset without bumping into anyone. You can do the VR experiences seated or standing. Each booth has a swivel seat to view the experience in 360 but can be removed for wheelchair users or those on mobility scooters. Before you begin the experience, one of the StoryTrails team will ask you if you have any accessibility needs which may guide your choice of VR experience. For example certain VR experiences may not be suitable for those with photo-sensitive epilepsy or certain sensory conditions). Our ‘onboarding’ team will help you put the VR headset on and brief you on how to use the controllers and what to expect. Please let them know if you have any concerns before, during or after the experience. As VR will be new to many visitors it’s likely to feel strange and it OK to ask questions!
VR technology is not particularly advanced for those with hearing or visual impairments (for instance, it is not standard for the headsets to be able to deliver subtitles) but as each experiences contains immersive sound and visuals it offers a different experience for everyone.
Experience Three: The Augmented Reality Trail Experience
Location: Around the town
Augmented reality trails are viewed through your mobile phone or an iPad and are experienced as an ‘overlay’ of information as you move around in the real world. Each town or city has a dedicated augmented reality trail made by someone from that location which starts at the library and goes on a short tour around the town or city. There is also a trail that can be accessed right outside the library. The trails draw on local archive to reveal local stories around the location. They are made by a creatives who come from each town or city.
Augmented reality (AR) involves interactions with the real world. Trails have been built with accessibility and safety in mind but all the usual challenges of the built environment apply. It is your responsibility to cross the road responsibly and look up from your phone when walking! Stops on the trail will ask you to point your device at something in the landscape and explore the story. These are all in safe places to stop and can all be viewed from ground level (i.e. without steps).
Stops are approximately 2-4 minutes apart and all trails last up to 45 minutes depending on how fast you walk and how long you spend at each stop. The trail can be done on your own with a mobile phone or as a guided tour with actors (highly recommended for families). iPads and phones with data will be provided on guided trails to save you using yours. All AR trails feature subtitling and are compatible with screen reader technology. The trail content can also be continued or watched again as a ‘tabletop’ version at home or back at the library if you find the trail too long.
Click on a location below for a map of each trail and any specific accessibility challenges.
AFTER EACH EXPERIENCE
We’d love to know what you think! After you have completed the immersive experience it’s natural to want to share. We’d really appreciate your thoughts which can be recorded in our iPad booths at the library.
LOCATIONS & ACCESSIBILITY
Omagh Library has two big entrances on the ground floor, the main library entrance is big but you need to go up some steps. There is ramp access if you go through the car park and turn right and use the other entrance. The library is a 3 minute walk from the main high street, with a pedestrian path, and is very accessible. There is a bus stop opposite the library. There are accessible toilets on the ground floor. All the areas inside the library showing content are accessible by wheelchair.
Dundee library has two entry points. One access point is through the shopping centre, and you need to enter through the main entrance of the shopping centre and then go up a floor via the escalators or a lift. Alternatively you can access the library through the main library entrance which is at the back of the shopping centre. If you use this entrance point you do not need to go up a floor – and the doors are wider, and automated to open, so this is the preferable choice for accessibility. There are toilets on all levels, including at the main entrance, and these are accessible. Most of the StoryTrails experience will be on the ground floor. However, the screen experience will be located on the 1st floor of the library which is accessible via a lift.
Dumfries is a small library with one main entrance which has no steps and is fully accessible. When you go in, please turn left for the screen and right for the Virtual Reality (VR) experiences and the toilets. There are multiple toilets including an accessible one. Everything is on the ground floor, and all the doors have power assistance to open.
Blackpool library has one main entrance, with no steps. The front door will open automatically. Inside the library, there is a ramp on the right hand side, up to the ground floor lobby, or six steps. The ramp has a right, 90-degree angle turn. There is an accessible toilet on the ground floor. All of the experiences are on the ground floor. There is a lift to the first floor, however wheelchair users should be aware the corridor upstairs is quite narrow (85cm) – this is only relevant for staff and volunteers though, not visitors.
Bradford library has step free access to the main entrance, with an automatic door. The experiences are all on the first floor, which you can reach using the stairs, or a small lift. The accessible toilet is on the first floor.
Sheffield library has steps to the front entrance. Wheelchair and pushchair access is at the rear of the building at the Arundel Gate entrance (signposted at the main entrance). Everything is situated on the ground floor of the library for the Stortrails tour. The toilet is located behind the area where the VR is happening.
Lincoln library has a step free entrance with automatic doors. All event spaces are on the ground floor, and these are all accessible. There are a couple of steps and a ramp to access the Community Room, which is where the domed screen showing the immersive map experience. There are toilets on the ground floor, including an accessible one.
Wolverhampton Library has an accessible main entrance with no steps. You enter on the ground floor, and the events will all be taking place on the first floor, which is accessible via the stairs or lift. After entering the library, turn right to the lift which will take you straight to the event space. The building is fully accessible. The width of the lift door is 90cm.
Swansea library is wheelchair accessible. There are both steps and a ramp to the main entrance of the building. There are accessible toilets and a Changing Places toilet situated on the ground floor of the Civic Centre, where the library is located, adjacent to the main reception.
Newport library is located on the 1st floor, with a lift available to all floors. The main library access is level.
Bristol library has two entrances. There are steps to the main entrance. The second entrance has steps and a ramp, and can be accessed from Deanery Road. There is signage from the main entrance. There is a lift to reach other levels and there is an accessible toilet on the first floor.
Swindon Central Library has step free access to the entrance and throughout the building. All of the experiences are on the ground floor, and there are disabled toilets on all floors. There is lift to access other floors, but this is only necessary for staff.
Slough library at The Curve has step-free access at both entrances. There are lifts to the other floors at both entrances. There is a Changing Places toilet to the right of the main reception desk, accessible with a radar key. There are also accessible toilets on the ground and first floors.
Brixton library has two entrances. The main entrance has four steps. There is a second entrance on Rushcroft Road with a ramp. Inside there is level access. There is a lift to the first floor (120 x 120cm, door width is 80cm). There is an accessible toilet at the rear of the library.
Catford Library has step-free access, with a push pad automatic door. There is level access throughout the library. There is an accessible toilet near the entrance.
If you have a question which wasn’t answered here, please contact us at: StoryTrails@rhul.ac.uk
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