Thursday, February 28, 2019

How Museums offer Accessibility to the Blind and Sight Impaired

Seeing the art through touch and sound...

Tactile 3D technology is making art accessible to those with vision impairment, allowing the Blind and sight impaired to experience art of all kinds, including historical and ancient art and sculpture.

Now the blind and visually impaired can visualize what the art looks like by touch.  Museums all over the world are participating in touch tours and recreating famous art with special 3d machines, making these duplications in a highly detailed tactile way so that those who are blind can fully enjoy the art.  This has expanded a new world for sight impaired art lovers, creating a unique accessibility. Besides audio descriptions that are offered at most museums, verbal description and touch tours offer blind museum goers a chance to experience art through touch and sound, helping those with sight impairment to "see" and imagine the artist's creative intentions.  Allowing a sight impaired museum goer to understand the emotion and intention of the artist by touching the details of the art greatly enhances their whole museum experience.  

Blind Art Museum

Along with verbal tours that the museum guide describes in great detail, touching actual sculptures and art paintings expands the knowledge and broadens the art encounter.  

Art Accessibility Blind and Low Vision

John Olson, a photographer who started his career covering the Vietnam War, began his company, 3D Photoworks, in 2008.  Since then he's been perfecting a patented fine art printing process that will change the way blind people "see" art forever. With a team of 3D technicians and engineers, Olsen and his team came up with a way to convert any 2-dimensional painting, photo or drawing to a three-dimensional tactile art print, complete with touch-activated sensors that provide audio information about the artwork.  The sensors are embedded throughout the prints that when touched, activate the sound.  The prints have length, width, depth and texture-- capturing color and relief of an artist's brushstrokes.  Olsen demonstrated the technology at the National Federation of the Blind convention and took along a 3D copy of the “Mona Lisa,” in addition to “George Washington Crossing the Delaware.

Tulip 3d Slick Primary Set Tactile Markings Tulip 3d Slick Primary Set Tactile Markings

Advocates for the blind are praising Olson’s invention as the greatest thing since the arrival of Braille, nearly 200 years ago. "When I experience a painting on my own without someone explaining it to me, that to me represents freedom, independence and equality.”--Lynn Jackson, an art lover who became blind at age 60.

Tactile and 3D paintings are enhancing the museum experience all over the world for the blind and visually impaired. "The Louvre in Paris was one of the first museums to set up a permanent gallery specifically for the visually impaired, opening its Tactile Gallery, where visitors can touch reproductions of art from its collection, in 1995. Since then, other museums have made accessibility for the blind a priority, too: the Denver Art Museum, Madrid’s Museo del Prado, and Florence’s Uffizi Gallery all have exhibitions that include touchable artworks. Meanwhile, the Museo Nacional de San Carlos in Mexico City also pioneered a concept of using collage to reproduce paintings that can be touched, according to the New York Times."  --Audrey Leonard

MaxiAids has been a provider for products that help enhance the lives of those with physical challenges.  Look to MaxiAids for products for the blind, low vision aids, blind accessories, low vision products, tactile products, and mobility products to safely move about, explore, create, and enjoy life to the fullest.

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