Experiencing art through the eyes of the visually impaired
Last week we were proud sponsors of CNIB’s annual Eye Appeal auction, hosted in Victoria, BC. With Eye Appeal raising funds to support the treatment and research for visual impairments, we decided to provide guests with an opportunity to experience art without 20-20 vision, something many of us take for granted.
‘Un-seeing’ the art work
After some brainstorming and a trip to the local mall, we produced our range of ‘un-seeing’ glasses – inspired by Guide Dog for the Blind’s fantastic visual impairment simulator tool.
By donning a pair of our special shades, guests could step into the shoes of someone who lives with impairments like Glaucoma, Diabetic Retinopathy or even Total Blindness. Luckily for our guests, they could switch back to normal vision in seconds. However, the reality of living with such diseases makes day to day life challenging and when enjoying a rare visit to a museum or gallery, the likelihood of exhibitions being multi-sensory isn’t great.
Museums around the world are constantly exploring ideas for providing more accessible experiences for guests with disabilities, including those with visual impairments. However, precious artifacts are sensitive to light and heat - let alone the oil and dirt on our fingertips. Experiences that don’t just rely on vision to enjoy, or even understand a piece, are a challenge that needs to be overcome.
Numerous studies support ideas that look beyond visual experiences, by upgrading exhibitions with both audible and touchable content. Another challenge is to provide such experiences for the majority - not the minority - of exhibitions.
How 3D digitization can help
With 3D scanning and printing technology, Verus Art can help overcome such barriers by re-creating masterpieces with the texture and colour of original brushstrokes. Our durable and resilient materials are perfect for seeing and feeling a masterpiece.
There is also potential to further develop our software to help people with visual impairments read images through touch. This could be in the way of developing brail for colour, or by digitally enhancing a subject’s features into 3D form.
Making art more accessible
In addition to exploring how museums could create multi-sensory exhibitions, our ideas for making art more accessible reach far and wide. This month we launched Art Connection, our Community Outreach Program, focusing on bringing touchable masterpieces into classrooms. Starting with a school tour in Vancouver, BC, we are helping connect children with art from all over the world.