Mariann Smith, Curator of Education, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY
Albright-Knox - Verbal Description Tours   1:35

I’m Mariann Smith, Curator of Education at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. One of the first things we tried for blind and visually impaired visitors was to have an audio description tour where they could take an audio wand like all of our other visitors, go out to our galleries, and not only have the painting or sculpture explained to them, but also have it described to them as well. This seemed to work quite well. We had an opening breakfast where we tried it out, and people seemed to like it. When our current “Matter At Hand” coordinator (Julie Cox) got here she decided to offer monthly verbal description tours to any audience that wanted to sign up; they could be visually impaired or they could be sighted. She thought they would be interesting for anyone who wanted to come. What we discovered is that when you actually have someone out in the museum with you, you can have a dialogue. Maybe the visual description you are doing isn’t exactly working for them and you can tailor it as you go. One thing that surprised us was that many visually impaired visitors are interested in colors and some aren’t. If you are listening to an audio wand you get what you get, you can’t stop it, you can’t ask it questions or ask for elaborations on anything that interests you. We are hoping that these monthly visual description tours will build up an audience. Just a few people at a time is best because then you can really have a dialogue about what you are looking at.



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