Smelling & Tasting at the Disgusting Food Museum in Malmö, Sweden

Most museums have a visual culture, but this little museum takes guests on a multisensory tour. The Disgusting Food Museum also challenges our culinary biases.

Descriptive Transcript

Haben faces the camera holding a closed jar. Behind her is a wall of red and yellow cans.

Haben: A lot of museums focus on visuals. I’m at a museum that’s now encouraging people to explore their sense of smell and their sense of taste. We’re at the Disgusting Food Museum in Malmö, Sweden, and there are dangerous foods here and foods that are known for being … disgusting. And I’m holding a jar that has a bit of Surströmming, which is fermented fish that is well known in Sweden. I’m opening the jar… oh dear!

The jar has white fabric material absorbing the scent. There is a white label with black text on the outside of the jar that says, “Smelling Jar: Surströmming.” She raises the jar to her nose, then pulls back, her eyes widening.

Haben: Yeah, that smells very, very fishy. I’m told… my cousin Brook tells me it smells a lot worse in real life, when it’s the real thing. And there have been court cases all about this scent!

The video cuts to her speaking in front of a black curtain.

Haben: They had lots of different things for us to taste here. I tried durian, the fruit.

Photo: The rind is green and covered in sharp spikes. Inside the soft, oblong, yellow fruit is surrounded by a white pith, like that of an orange.

Haben: It kind of tastes like a mix of onion and mango.

Inside the museum, she holds a toothpick with a small, gray sliver of something that shines as though it’s slimy.

Haben (Voiceover): I tried Surströmming, the very famous fermented fish from Sweden.

She cautiously bites and chews.

Haben: Oh, it’s definitely not as bad as I feared!

Back to the room with the black curtains.

Haben: The one that challenged me was salt licorice. The first time I tried it, it was this overwhelming salt flavor and my mouth was full of salt and I just spit it out because it was too much. Then my cousin told me it’s super popular here in Sweden, so I gave it another try.

Behind a long counter, staff hand out samples to guests. A black table cloth hangs over the side of the counter with the text, “DFM Yuck! (Disgusting Food Museum).” Haben stands several feet in front of the counter, and her guide dog Mylo looks up at her inquisitively.

Haben: My favorite so far was pickled cabbage juice from Eastern Europe. And now I have a popular Swedish candy, salt licorice I think it’s called, and it’s kind of like a block of salt and squishy like licorice.

Photo: Circular, black pieces of licorice coated in white, fine-grain salt.

Haben squeezes the piece of licorice she’s been holding gently between two fingers. It’s about the size of a quarter and formed in the shape of a cube. She pops the licorice in her mouth. Her eyes widen and she smiles as she chews.

Haben (Voiceover): Chewing.

(Nervous laughter).

Haben (Voiceover): I look shocked and amused as I struggle to keep chewing!

Haben finishes chewing the salty licorice.

Haben: The inside is very sweet, like licorice and the outside is salty. The first time, I couldn’t finish it because it was so salty on the outside. The trick is to start chewing right away, so the salt and sugar mixes.

She looks to the right, speaking to her cousin out of frame.

Haben: Okay, I figured it out!

Back to the room with the black curtains.

Haben: What I found at this museum is that things are never as bad as we think they’re going to be. It’s excellent to have a place where we can challenge our sense of taste, our sense of smell, and learn about food from around the world.

Another Way for Blind People to Cross Streets: Tactile Traffic Maps

Tactile maps increase independence and freedom for blind people, and this technology puts traffic maps at our fingertips. Should cities around the world install these accessible pedestrian signals?

Descriptive Transcript

I’m standing beside a yellow and navy plastic control box near a crosswalk.

Haben: A Swedish style of accessible pedestrian signals can now be found in lots of different places around the world. Here’s one in Sweden, and I want to highlight some really cool things about this. There is a tactile map on the control box.

Photo: The front of the control box showing a map.

Haben: An arrow points up to a vertical line going across the map, and that tells you the route you want to take. Cars are represented by rectangles, raised rectangles. There are two on the left side, two on the right side. That tells you it’s a four-lane street. And in the middle of the street is an oval. That means there’s an island.

Video returns to Haben speaking by the control box.

Haben: So when I approach this intersection, I’m getting lots of valuable information about what to expect: how long it’s going to take me to get across, if I reach an island I actually know it’s an island and not the other side of the street. So this is powerful. I have three more things to highlight here. On the top, there’s an arrow.

Photo: A close up of the top of the control box. The arrow is no more than a couple inches long and raised from the surface of the box.

Haben: Sometimes intersections are angled. So, the arrow is angled slightly to let you know how you should cross the street.

Her hand reads the arrow.

Haben: When you tap the top of the control box, you can increase the volume of the audio signal.

Photo: A collection of raised dots form a star on the dark-blue, plastic surface.

Haben: And on the bottom there’s a star, a tactile star, and it vibrates to tell you when it’s time to cross. Isn’t that cool? It’s a lot of information and it gives the pedestrian choices about: Do they want audio? Do they want tactile signals? Do they want it louder, quieter? And if you don’t want any of this info, you don’t have to use the control box. You can ignore it. So I’m going to hit the button.

She presses a flat non-apparent button at the front of the control box. A small, clear ring at the top of the box lights up, turning an orange-yellow color. The control box makes a quiet, high-pitched beep.

(Slow clicking from the control box)

Haben’s hand rests below the control box. A photo of the tactile star appears again on screen briefly before we return to Haben and Mylo waiting.

(Rapid clicking).

Haben: Mylo, forward.

Mylo and Haben walk into the street. a few other pedestrians pass to their right. A blue car makes a turn through the far side of the crosswalk as Haben and Mylo cross the island.

Haben (voiceover): My guide dog and I reach the other side of the street.

She reaches down to pet Mylo.

Haben: Good job!

Deafblind Awareness Week: Everyone has a Voice

Helen Keller’s birthday and Deafblind Awareness Week mark the perfect time to follow more Deafblind influencers. Here are some I follow, and if you know more tag them in the comments.

Descriptive Transcript

Wearing a soft, stylized floral necklace over a blue dress, Haben speaks to the camera. Behind her is a textured wood wall.

Haben: It’s DeafBlind Awareness Week, and Helen Keller’s birthday is June 27th.

Photo: 24-year-old Helen holds a rose to her face while her other hand rests on an open Braille book. Her eyes are closed, her hair is pulled back into a low bun, and she’s wearing a white blouse with a bow at the front of her throat.

Haben: So we use this week to increase awareness. Helen lived from 1880 to 1968. And what I find fascinating is that many of the questions she received during her lifetime: “Why do you travel if you can’t see? How do you have a voice when you can’t hear?” Those questions are still being asked today. And part of that is because we still have an ocular-centric culture. We still need to move away from only imagining a world with sight, to imagining and designing a multisensory world. Helen loved traveling and speaking. She visited so many countries!

Photo: Sitting in a boat, Helen Keller stretches out a hand to a swan. It’s beak is near her fingers.

Haben: Helen had a powerful voice. She lost her hearing very early on as a kid, and as she was growing up, she noticed that only people who were speaking with audible voices were being heard and respected. So she spent thousands of hours learning how to speak with a voice that people could hear. That was exhausting. And a lot of deaf kids and parents have to grapple with the question of: Do we put people through thousands of hours of speech training or do we use those hours for mathematics, geography, and other classes that nondisabled students are taking? That’s a huge question, and I wish we did not have to grapple with that. I wish we had a culture where all voices were valued. Everyone has a voice. But because of ableism, racism, sexism and other forms of systemic oppression, a lot of voices are not heard.

Photo: 34-year-old Helen listens through her hand as Annie fingerspells. Annie stands beside Helen as she signs into her hand, while Helen is seated. Across the table from Helen, a woman observes the conversation.

Haben: Signing is just as valuable as using an audible voice. Both are voices, both deserve respect. So whether one speaks with an accent, whether one types what they need to say, or maybe someone has a voice that you don’t quite understand, that’s an opportunity to take patience and try to learn to understand different kinds of voices.

So as part of Deafblind Awareness Week, I invite you to start listening, reading, and watching more Deafblind voices. With all the different ways we communicate, whether through the written word or signing. And in this post, I’m going to share several Deafblind people you can follow on social media. There are a lot of us out there, so diversify your feed and listen to more Deafblind voices.

A Swedish Hotel Welcoming Blind & Sighted Guests: Almåsa

Hotels embracing accessibility win more customers. The Almåsa Sea Hotel owned by Sweden’s Visually Impaired Foundation has multi-sensory experiences enjoyed by both blind and sighted guests.

Descriptive Transcript

A paved path, with a railing, guides visitors through a fragrant garden. Seeing Eye dog Mylo and Haben stride along the path toward a dock over gently rolling waves.

Haben: Along the Baltic Sea, there’s a place where you can recharge, relax, and support the Swedish Association of the Visually Impaired.

Stairs lead up to a stately building with pillars lining the entrance. Haben and Mylo bypass the main entrance, pass a person in a suit typing on their phone, and walk toward a step-free side door with an automated door opener.

Haben: This is about an hour from Stockholm. Almåsa Hotel.

Photo: Haben and Mylo stand in a small patch of sunlight, Haben’s hand rests on the edge of a flower box filled with pink, orange, and yellow flowers. Above the flower box, large 3D letters, in print and Braille, pop against a black wall. It says: “Almåsa Havshotell.”

Haben: This was the first time I got a braille menu in Sweden!

Photo: Haben’s hand over a white page of Braille.

Haben: Dessert! Mjölkchokladterrine, basilikaglass, jordgubbscreme kaksmulor.

Her hands glide across the Braille page as she reads out loud with an American accent. Beside her on the circular table, a ceramic bowl holds the dessert.
Photo: Close-up of the dessert bowl with a chocolate fudge bar topped with a violet and surrounded by dollops of bright-red strawberry cream with large berries. Nearby, a scoop of green ice cream sits on a bed of white cake crumbles. A soft, bright pink, maple leaf shaped candy tops the ice cream.

She reads a gold-colored, metal sign on the side of a red, wooden building.

Haben: Along the paths, around Almåsa, there’s also Braille signage.

The audio cuts to her reading the sign.

Haben: I – L – L – A – N. Strandvillan.

She stands in front of the glass double doors to the hotel. A high-pitched blackbird whistle plays from a small, red speaker above the door.

Haben: They’re using sound to give people signals of where they are. There’s a kind of bird sound to indicate where this specific door is. And then there’s another kind of water sound to let you know about another door into the building.

The camera pans to the main entrance with the staircase.

(Water bubbling)

Haben: So there are different ways to communicate information by sound, by sight…

She stands in front of another red speaker. Behind her, green foliage fills the frame.

Haben: And for the start of the forest trail…

(Cuckoo call)

Back inside the restaurant, Haben reads at the round table that has glasses, her BrailleNote, and the keyboard. Sun streams in through a window, and Mylo rests on the floor.

Haben: I was not really able to get a lot from the sound signals as a Deafblind person, but I’ve heard from blind people that it’s a cool way to be able to know where you are. In addition to also hearing the ocean sounds and the waves.

The camera pans over the sea, soft waves lapping at the dock. Haben smiles holding the ILY sign, with Mylo standing beside her.

Haben: A lot of the paths have ropes.

Photo: A weathered rope connects to the wooden railing of a dock.

Haben: So you can hold and follow the ropes to help you get places.

We cut to a video of Haben and Mylo walking down a concrete pathway toward the sea.

Haben: Or you can use your white cane or you can use your guide dog. Lots of guide dogs come here. And it’s important to make sure blind people have choices. We have had access to different trainings, resources. Some people have had training on how to use a cane. Some haven’t. So by creating multiple ways to navigate a space, you support people with different levels of experience and training.

The video slowly zooms out on the image of the rope leading to the dock, revealing a small wooden building at the end of the dock. The setting sun paints the sky in soft orange, yellow, and blue.

Haben: And if you keep following the ropes, they will take you to a classic Swedish experience: the sauna.

They stand near the end of the dock. Haben has one hand on the door knob, and The glass door of the sauna reflects Mylo. He fidgets and whines at first, then lies down.

Haben: This is a sauna on a moving, bouncing dock. And every time the waves hit the dock, we’re bouncing up and down a little bit, and on the other side, there’s a ladder going down.

She gestures behind her to the metal guide rails of the ladder that are secured to the dock. The rest of the ladder disappears into the green-blue water below.

Haben: So if you want to cold plunge first before your sauna or after your sauna, you’ve got those choices.

Mylo and Haben quickly walk back up the dock away from the water.

Haben: My feet never touched the water and I was already freezing! Would you do a cold plunge?

Haben Meets Paralympian & Adventurer Aron Anderson

Paralympian, speaker, author, and adventurer. Aron Anderson ( @AronAnderson1 ) is the first wheelchair user to reach the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro. And that is just the beginning! He leads groups on adventures around the world, showing people strategies to move through challenges. Descriptive Transcript Aron, Haben, and Seeing Eye dog Mylo are at a … Read more

Site-smelling in Alaska: The Good and the Gross

Many people talk about sight seeing, but that’s only one small part of travel. Let’s embrace all the different ways we can experience our world! Descriptive Transcript A wide, paved path curves around a fountain with a majestic whale statue, and then continues alongside the channel with beautiful views of Douglas Island and downtown Juneau. … Read more

A Tactile Tour of Alaska’s Theatre Organ

As a Deafblind person in a complicated relationship with music, stepping inside this theater organ deepened my appreciation and understanding of this extraordinary instrument. Alaska’s only working theater organ, older than the state, continues playing lovely music thanks to the Alaska State Museum, talented organists, and the passionate locals and tourists who attend the free … Read more

Add Descriptive Transcripts to Make Your Videos More Accessible

Haben against a blue background talking about transcripts

It’s Global Accessibility Awareness Day! Adding descriptive transcripts to videos helps Deafblind people and others who process information through text. Share this tip. Happy GAAD! Descriptive Transcript Haben, a Black woman in her thirties with long dark hair, speaks to the camera, a vibrant blue wall behind her. Haben: If you’re a creator, add transcripts … Read more

Alaskan Whale-watching Adventures while Deafblind

Whale watching tours may seem purely visual, but thoughtful guides create interactive experiences that are fun even though I can’t see the whales! Descriptive Transcript Experienced guide Laurie Clough approaches Haben holding a three-feet long, orange sea star. Haben gently studies the star with her fingers. Hundreds of tiny tube feet, yellow on the ends, … Read more

London vs Paris: Accessible Pedestrian Signals

London or Paris? Accessible pedestrian signals feel different across the channel, with their own pros and cons. Which style do you prefer and why? Descriptive Transcript Haben is standing at a crosswalk in London. She is wearing a lavender coat and long, gold earrings. She is speaking directly to the camera. Cars and red, double … Read more