Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month @Schools
ABS's Art Beyond Sight 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. As an educator of children who are blind or visually impaired, you and your school are no doubt aware of the importance of mobility and map-reading skills, body awareness, and braille. Do you know that art activities can enhance these and other important skills as well as enrich your curricula? Art education, in addition to providing exposure to the visual culture of one's surroundings, is a multi-faceted tool to help children develop skills essential to their professional and academic success. So, too, is involvement in art-making activities.
- Awareness Updates
- Show a Video
- Art Beyond Sight Crash Course
- Distance Education Art History Course
- Museum/School Partnership
- Workshops for Parents
- Workshops for Colleagues
- Art Show
- Art works of students who are blind
- Art of blind artists
- Traveling exhibit
- Touchable works of art by contemporary artists
See Educator's Kit
See Art Show Resources
See resources for buttons, certificates, and all sorts of useful information sheets.
- Broach the Subject. To get your school involved, you need a good pitch. Study this Web site, and get familiar with Art Beyond Sight's goals and history. Talk to a couple of colleagues at your school before approaching your principal with our letter to the principal, which can also be adapted for a dean or any other administrative official. Do this as far in advance as you can, so that you will be able to convince your administration and still plan some activities. If you hit a roadblock and need some advice, don't hesitate to post a message on the collaborative's Discussion Groups.
- Awareness Updates. These are without a doubt the easiest way for you to bring Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month to your institution. Your colleagues, not only teachers but also administration and even office staff, will enjoy reading these with their morning coffee and doughnuts. We have prepared beautifully designed, full-color electronic newsletters for Awareness Month. They feature the work of blind professional artists and children, each one highlighting a different theme of importance. Sending them to everyone at your school is a great way to spread awareness - and to unite the different parts of your school team in a joint mission.
- Show a Video. Videos are easy to arrange, engaging, and enjoyable. Put out some coffee and pastry, and gather your entire faculty and staff to learn some things about art and visual impairment. You can even invite parents to some of these films.
- 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. Call in for a session or two before or after class, and have your colleagues fill you in on the sessions you miss! The early morning introductory session might be a good way to kick off the day, and you can have it coincide with a thank you breakfast for your teachers. These once-a-year trainings sessions are designed to provide a crash course for educators, making available to your team the authors of Art Beyond Sight. A Resource Guide to Art, Creativity, and Visual Impairment. 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!
- Museum School Partnerships. Schools and classroom teachers play a role in creating lasting change in the education community and in the lives of students; in turn, museum programs provide schools with the crucial support needed to accomplish this transformation. Many museums have longstanding, ongoing partnerships with educators, a very good example of which you can see in Art Beyond Sight. A Resource Guide to Art, Creativity, and Visual Impairment Chapter 10, in the Art Beyond Sight video, and the chapter on Museum and School Partnership in the Handbook. You can start your own relationship with an accessible museum in your community. Look up the curriculum integration activities developed by ABS, and show them to the museum educators. Have museum educators speak to your students in preparation for their first museum visit. Click here for an example of a full collaborative effort between school and museum. The Art Beyond Sight Collaborative, in conjunction with Clara Ines Rojas Sebesta, put together these Four Lesson Blocks for a museum school partnership that will help you to introduce students to the concept of a museum and your museum collection, as well as serving as a start-up for a wonderful partnership.
- Workshops for Parents. Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month is an excellent time to hold a meeting with your parent body to discuss the benefits of art education for their children. Describe to the parents what their children are doing in school and encourage them to do art-related projects at home. Explore the issues: Can blind children draw? Discuss the cognitive research. How does art education enhance the curriculum and help children develop important skills? What are some simple activities parents can do with their children at home? How does one use a raised-line drawing board? Where can parents get the materials their children need? Do blind people pursue careers in the arts? What careers are available? The answers to all these questions are available in Art Beyond Sight. A Resource Guide to Art, Creativity, and Visual Impairment .
- Workshops for Teachers. If you are an art instructor at a school for blind or visually impaired students, this is the perfect time to introduce your colleagues to the value of your work and to enlist their help. Showcase your students' work - show your colleagues what can be done and explain to them the benefits of art for general education (see the art education fact sheet for ideas). Discuss curriculum integration activities.
- Art Exhibit. An art exhibit is a great way to get your students excited and to reach out to your larger community. Set up a show in the school auditorium or use artworks to line the hallways. Host a reception for the opening of the show, and have your school band or drama department put on a performance. There are many resources available to you in finding a source of artwork:
- Your students are your best bet. Not only are they convenient, but it's really all about them, right? Gather things your students have done, or have them create new artworks especially for the occasion. Print out Certificates of Participation for the artists.
- There are traveling exhibits of artworks by blind artists, such as Art of the Eye, National Exhibit of Blind Artists, and the Cummers Museum exhibit "Women of Vision."
- Contact Ann Cunningham or Karen Spitzberg for touchable and multi-sensory works of art by contemporary artists.
- Create Art! Whether you are an art teacher and want to explore new techniques, or a general education teacher interested in applying what you've learned about here, designing a hands-on art production activity for your students will be very rewarding. See the art education fact sheet for ideas of materials and techniques, remembering to stay developmentally appropriate. While some of the materials you need can be found at your local art store, try looking around. Be resourceful about recycling found materials into your classroom and ask your students to do the same. Familiarize yourself with the materials and techniques before you take them into the classroom. More detailed information on creating art with people who are blind or visually impaired can be found in Chapter 8 of Art Beyond Sight. A Resource Guide to Art, Creativity, and Visual Impairment.
- Learn to Appreciate Art. No child is too young to appreciate art, well, almost. The basic concepts of art are appropriate for all people anywhere from pre-K school to post-retirement. Check out the Building Blocks of Art volume of Art History Through Touch and Sound, the unique multi-sensory art history series for people who are blind or visually impaired, and try some things out with your students. Also, look at the other available volumes, all of which are currently used in schools for children who are blind or visually impaired (Art of Ancient Egypt, Art of Ancient Greece, Baroque Art, Modern Art, African Art), to find activities that link into your current curriculum in any of the subjects you teach. Take a look at chapter 9 of Art Beyond Sight. A Resource Guide to Art, Creativity, and Visual Impairment for some ideas on relating art to other curriculum areas, or do an in-depth workshop on one type of art.
- Visit a Museum. Visit your accessible museum with your students! Get in touch with the museum ahead of time and find out what kinds of things you can do there. Invite the museum personnel to speak to your children after you introduce the concept, and for a post-visit discussion session. Plan an in-class art-making activity or discussion related to what the children experience at the museum (take a look at the Museum and School Partnership Chapter for ideas).
- HELP! My local museum is not accessible! If your local museum is not accessible, send them this letter as a gesture of goodwill to make them aware that you and your students would like to use their resourses. You might also call the curator of education and/or the director of schools programs, and invite them to visit your school to meet your students. Discuss how they might incorporate your students into existing programs, and make sure to put them in contact with the Art Beyond Sight Collaborative and its wealth of experts and information. Show them Art Beyond Sight. A Resource Guide to Art, Creativity, and Visual Impairments, and encourage them to join the telephone crash course.
- Performance Arts. The primary focus of Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month is on the visual arts, but that is no reason to make it exclusively for that. This is a time to celebrate all arts, musical and kinesthetic included. If you have a music program, arrange a recital, and if you have a drama corps, have them perform as well. Ideally, that performance could take place at a reception celebrating the visual arts, or it could kick off a meeting with parents about art-making activities to do at home.
- Exploring Tactile Pictures. While tactile pictures are an essential learning tool for children who are blind or visually impaired to experience visual art, exploring tactile pictures is a fun activity for all children. Have the whole class close their eyes as you (or a taped recording) talk them through the picture. Your blind students will have what may be their first exposure to art, while your sighted students receive an invaluable lesson in sensitivity as well as developing a respect for the effort that goes into comprehending the world without the benefit of one's eyesight. See the Learning Tools Chapter of the Handbook for more information on Tactile Diagrams.
- Visit a Museum. Talk to the educators at the museum first and find out what kinds of activities they could do for the class. Find out if a docent who guides audio-described tours will be available to talk to your class about the responsibilities of describing an artwork so that someone who can't see it understands what it looks like. The next activity could be a good follow-up to such a visit, a classroom discussion or an art activity.
- Verbal Description. Discuss with your class the important things that need to be mentioned for an effective verbal description, and describe a painting for them as an example. Have the students try their hand at it, with your visually impaired students giving feedback on what is and what isn't useful (check with those students first to make sure they won't feel uncomfortable doing this). This activity, while fun and interactive, will help your sighted students develop their powers of observation and sensitivity, and will allow your blind or visually impaired students exposure to several pieces of art. See the Learning Tools Chapter of the Handbook for more information on Verbal Description, or see chapter 5 of Art Beyond Sight. A Resource Guide to Art, Creativity, and Visual Impairment.