EDUCATION & OUTREACH
Over the past 3 decades Museums all over the world have implemented touch tours for Blind individuals to experience art through touch. These programs enable the Visually Challenged to feel not only sculpture, but also paintings using tactile reproductions or other 3D representations. Accompanied with descriptions these tours are usually available to the Blind by appointment and in some cases for school tours or group tours.
Over the years while museums have worked diligently investing much time and financial commitment to creating state of the art touch tours the need for domestic and global outreach has remained an unsolved issue. While a blind child or adult can now (pre-COVID) visit museums in their own city the expense of domestic and international travel weighs heavy on pockets and hence, limits one’s access to famous works of art. In an effort to create free educational access of the Arts to the Blind, Touch the Arts has developed the first means of digital distribution using state of the art technology solving this global accessibility issue. No longer will a Blind child have to wonder what the Mona Lisa looks like and why this serves as an iconic masterpiece- nor will a Visually Challenged adult miss out on the wonders of DiVinci’s works - nor will he or she need to travel to the museum to gain access to those rich educational resources to teach them these works. A simple solution developed by Denise Lasprogata of Touch the Arts in collaboration with the American Printing House Tactile Graphic Library for the Blind bridges this gap by working with Museums to digitally upload their existing educational materials to the Library. Accessed by over 10,000 Educators of the Blind in 63 countries this online secured educational portal enables Teachers to print these images a special coated paper and raise them into tactile illustrations through equipment such as the tactile enhancer machine in the classroom. Other adaptive technology such as a Braille embosser can also create the tactile image. Accompanied by existing descriptive guides developed by Museum Educational Departments these famous works of art can now be learned remotely. Furthermore, Touch the Arts can provide both tactile interpretation services for paintings and translation services for descriptive guides. We encourage descriptive guides to be offered in multiple languages to have better educational outreach potential.