Accessible Tours for the Blind and Visually Impaired

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Image showing a portrait of Sara CroftThis week’s post is written by Sara Croft, the Social Media & Events Coordinator at Easter Seals Crossroads in Indianapolis, IN. Sara is also the voice behind the Easter Seals Crossroads Blog which features a wide range of great articles geared toward the disabled community and disability services.

Museums hold the stories of our heritage, displaying not only the change in our world over centuries time, but the emotions and lives of those who lived through it. Art gives us an opportunity to express ourselves, but what if you are unable to see the painting that hangs on the wall?

Since museums exist to preserve our stories and share them with us, it is imperative that they provide ways for each and every person to access that history. For those that are blind or visually impaired, touchable tours offer the most unique way to experience art.

Here are just a few of the museums around the world that are offering various touchable tours:

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum offers a Guided Highlights Tour (GHT). The 2-3 hour tour features visually descriptive language, touchable reproductions of several key artifacts, and a model of the museum. Accessible for those who have low vision, are blind or deaf-blind, the GHT provides visitors with a variety of visual aids such as flashlights, high-contrast black and white photographs, and monocular devices.

Tactile Art Cards at the Museum of Fine Art in Boston focus on one object either through a raised line graphic, Braille or large print. Their Audio Description Tours include more than 140 stops throughout the museum, and can be requested free of charge from any visitor.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art has several Touchable Tour options and segments them by the period of art, such as Modern and Contemporary Art, East Asian Art and Indian and Himalayan Art. Three-dimensional representations of select paintings allow blind, visually impaired and sighted visitors the opportunity to experience works of art that cannot be touched. This includes a visual description that builds the painting, a series of black-and-white, raised-line and textured diagrams, and a small sculptural representation of the painting that is colored and textured to resemble the original piece.

Image of the Indianapolis Museum of Art

One of my favorite museums is the Indianapolis Museum of Art. I am proud to live in a city with such a great collection of art that also offers accessible tours. Visitors are divided into small groups and given nitrile gloves so that you can touch selected works of art throughout the museum. Audio Description tours provide an opportunity to engage in discussion with docents and tour participants.

Does your local museum offer similar tours? Give them a call to find out!

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This post was written by Jeff Frcho

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