Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month @Libraries
Libraries for people who are blind or visually impaired come in all shapes and sizes. Some are simply warehouses of books with a few librarians packaging and mailing off requests; others are complete facilities with reading rooms and shelves to browse. Whatever your type of library, you can participate in Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month.
The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) is a network of regional and sub-regional libraries providing free service to persons unable to use standard printed material because of visual or physical disabilities. The NLS provides a standard collection of audio and braille titles, which regional and sub-regional libraries supplement according to local interest. Readers who register with the libraries serving their areas can take advantage of services such as video loans and summer reading programs.
The Art Beyond Sight Collaborative recognizes that art education and exposure to the arts are crucial for the advancement of many key issues in the education and rehabilitation of people who are blind. Libraries, with their relatively global access to the population of blind people, play a vital role in fostering community participation through arts programs and helping provide full intellectual access to the world of art, collaborative learning through the arts, and employment in the arts.
The following possible Art Beyond Sight activities have been divided into events you can do without actually having a public forum and those which require a facility of some sort.
- Introduce Co-workers to the ART BEYOND SIGHT Concept
- Awareness Updates
- Feature Art History Through Touch and Sound
- Bring more tactile art books/multi-sensory materials to the library
- Distance Education Art History Course
- Arrange a Telephone Conference Call for your patrons
- Homebound Custodians
- Art Beyond Sight Crash Course
- Circulate electronic newsletters during Awareness Month
Out Reach Letters and Other Materials
Easy to put together activities that don't require facilities:
- Introduce Co-workers to the ART BEYOND SIGHT Concept. The first step in any undertaking is to let people know what you're trying to achieve. Send this letter to your director some time in advance of Awarewess Month to inform him about this international initiative, and distribute this announcement in braille and large print to your custodians.
- Awareness Updates. These are without a doubt the easiest way for you to bring Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month to your institution. Your colleagues in every department of the library will enjoy reading these with their morning coffee and doughnuts. We prepare beautifully designed, full-color electronic newsletters for Awareness Month. They feature the work of blind professional artists and children, plus each one highlights a different theme of importance. Sending them to everyone is a great way to spread awareness - and to unite the different parts of your library team.
- Introduce Art History Through Touch and Sound: ABS has been trailblazing a way to pictorial literacy by creating a complete tactile encyclopedia of images of famous art works and architectural monuments, Art History Through Touch and Sound . To date, six volumes of this multi-sensory art encyclopedia have been published and another five are being developed. Each volume contains six to nine tapes with text, a manual with tactile diagrams and color reproductions, a printout of the text and teacher supplement, and an accessible disc version of the text. Most of the NLS libraries have received a copy of the first volume of this art history series, titled European Modernism 1900 - 1940 . Do your readers know about this resource? Tell them! That way if you already own the books, they will get used, and if you don't own them, your readership will get the chance to let you know they are interested. Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month is a great opportunity to mail out a flier about Art History Through Touch and Sound or to slip a paragraph about it into your newsletter. See our resources page for a sample text for such an announcement. For other ideas on how to publicize the book series, or if you have questions about storing and circulating this book, join the Libraries for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired Committee on the ART BEYOND SIGHT Discussion Groups page.
- Arrange a Telephone Conference Call. Telephone conference calls are useful tools in general. You might want to think about asking Art Beyond Sight collaborators to speak with your staff and patrons on a variety of topics during Awareness Month. Conference call classes are also a great way to engage elderly and homebound people. The experience of studying art can involve them in a dialogue that breaks down the isolation of their confinement. There are many services that will take care of the technical aspects of a conference call - we use FreeBridge, a free telephone conference-call provider.
- Involving Homebound People with Sight Loss. Libraries for blind people, because of the methods of circulation, have much more contact with people who are homebound than most other institutions. This makes the library the ideal focal point for a concerted outreach effort to people who are not able to come into a public forum. Homebound and elderly visually impaired people can learn about art through telephone conference-call classes with accompanying educational materials sent to their homes in advance. Through studying art they engage in a dialogue that breaks down their isolation. Use Awareness Month to reach out to this constituency; contact your audience far enough in advance to ensure a good level of participation, and arrange a sample art lesson. Get feedback - you may want to make this a permanent part of your offerings.
- Art Beyond Sight Crash Course. Art Beyond Sight All-Day Telephone Conference Training and Discussions will take place on Monday, October 15. The training sessions, each 40 minutes long and followed by question-and-answer sessions, will address basic issues related to educational programming for people with vision loss. These once-a-year trainings sessions are designed to provide a crash course for educators, but are useful to all people involved in providing blind people with access to the arts. They make the authors of Art Beyond Sight. A Resource Guide to Art, Creativity, and Visual Impairment available to your team. This most important training of the year is open to all educators, parents, artists and art lovers, but the telephone conference service that we use can accommodate a limited number of people, so you might want to arrive early!
- Show a Video. Videos are easy to arrange, engaging, and enjoyable. Put out some coffee and pastry, and gather your entire team to learn some things about art and visual impairment. You can even invite your custodians to some of these films.
- Invite a Blind or Visually Impaired Artist. Bringing an artist who is blind or visually impaired to your institution can help achieve several objectives. A blind artist can give your library staff, your patrons, and their families a unique perspective on how visual impairment interacts with creativity and art making. Your may also want to invite a blind artist to give a public presentation addressing your sighted and visually impaired patrons. Feature artworks created by blind or visually impaired artists in your library, and host a reception celebrating local artists included in the show. For advice on how to create such a show or to locate artworks your institution could acquire on loan, see the National Exhibition of Blind Artists at www.neba.org or Art of the Eye Exhibit at Delta Gamma Foundation, or Friends in Art, American Council for the Blind Special Interest Affiliate. To get in touch with local artists who are blind or who are willing to travel to you, contact the National Federation of the Blind or try posting an e-mail on ART BEYOND SIGHT Discussion Group. Also, visit our e-gallery for information on artists with vision loss.
- Art Exhibit. An art exhibit is an opportunity to get your patrons to come together in your library. There are many resources available to you in finding artworks to display.
- The library is an ideal place to exhibit art works done by the students from the local school for the blind. Contact the principal and art instructor, offering them your space to exhibit their students' creativity to the community. Invite teachers, students' families and your custodians to the opening of the show.
- There are traveling exhibits works by professional and amateur artists who are blind or visually impaired, such as the National Exhibition of Blind Artists at www.neba.org or Art of the Eye Exhibit at Delta Gamma Foundation and the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens' exhibit "Women of Vision." Contact them about hosting their exhibits or locating a blind artist in your community.
- Many contemporary artists create multi-sensory works of art, some of which are created for touch. Here are some of the artists with Web sites: Ann Cunningham and Karen Spitzberg.
- Letter to Library Director
- Art History Through Touch and Sound Announcement