Frequently Asked Questions

What is Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month?
Why teach art history or art making to people who are blind or visually impaired?
How can people who are blind or visually impaired perceive visual images?
How can people who are blind or visually impaired make art?
Do people who are blind or visually impaired enjoy art?
Why should teaching art to blind people be a priority?

What is Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month?
This is an opportunity for schools, museums, libraries, agencies for the blind, and individuals to join together to raise public awareness about making art and culture a part of life for children and adults affected by sight loss. One focus is to familiarize parents, educators, and school and museum administrators with the benefits of art activities and museum visits for children with sight loss, and with how art can be used to foster braille literacy. Another is to enable community institutions to create and maintain programming for people with visual impairments through the use of a variety of learning tools. During Awareness Month, staff members are trained on sensitivity and accessibility, blind and sighted people are invited to participate in educational and art activities, and museums and schools lacking art programs for blind and visually impaired patrons and students are challenged to develop them.

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Why teach art history or art making to people who are blind or visually impaired?
There are many reasons to teach blind people about both art history and the making of art. Sighted and blind people alike benefit from the critical thinking skills, language skills, cooperative learning, and general life enrichment provided by studying art history. Art making can serve to foster sensory awareness, manual dexterity, self-confidence, and self-awareness. Among the benefits unique to blind individuals are Braille-reading skills, mobility and map-reading skills, and tactile-exploration skills, all of which contribute significantly to a person's academic and professional success. Being versed in and contributing to visual culture helps blind people to break through social barriers and enables their full participation in the world. The Art Beyond Sight Around the World Collaborative recognizes that art education and exposure to the arts are crucial for advancement of many key issues in the education and rehabilitation of people who are blind.

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How can people who are blind or visually impaired perceive visual images?
Different visual impairments lead to different levels of sight, and but even people who are congenitally blind can perceive visual images. Given proper training blind people can understand and recreate in two-dimensional drawings using either a pen or raised line drawing boards. They can create two-dimensional renderings of shapes they have felt in three dimensions, and can create a mental image of an object they have experienced through tactile graphics or verbal description.

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How can people who are blind or visually impaired make art?
There are several methodologies used with people who are blind or visually impaired. People who are completely blind often choose three-dimensional modalities, such as clay or papier-mâché, or raised line drawing boards. Contrary to popular belief many blind people are interested in color. Blind people want to learn the differences between what is conveyed by different colors, not only to understand art, but also to use color in their own artworks. Blind and visually impaired people work in different styles and use different media, ranging from sculpture to photography. People who have lost their vision or have partial vision include famous artists such as Monet and Van Gogh.

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Do people who are blind or visually impaired enjoy art?
People who are blind or visually impaired enjoy learning about art and making art as much as sighted people do. Read some things they have to say about the experience of learning about and creating art on this Web site.

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Why should teaching art to blind people be a priority? Art Works!
Art can serve as a catalyst in addressing many practical issues that blind people face today, including Braille literacy, social integration, mobility skills, and employment. Art Beyond Sight Collaborative believes that art works miracles in the lives of all people regardless of their visual impairment. Just try it!

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Eugene Delacroix's painting, Liberty Leading the People, 1830, France
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