Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Making Art History Accessible for the Blind (Architecture Unit)

My Monday art class slide presentations are shown on a large screen within arms length of each of my visually impaired student. Each image is described in detail for those with no vision. But a picture is worth a thousand words, which can take a long time to get through, and sometimes the words don't make sense without a reference point. What is a capitol on a column? What is a frieze in relationship to the pediment on an ancient Greek temple?

Even with lengthy descriptions, some students will be lost. To teach my architecture unit, I printed out examples of various columns and worksheets that showed the difference between the round, romanesque arches and the pointed, gothic arches.  Then I traced the illustrations with puffy paint for students to feel what I was talking about. I used empty paper-towel rolls to help students have a model of the three types of columns: doric, ionic, corinthian. Triglyphs are made tactile and large posters (like the one of Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Waters) are traced with hot glue. Making tactile worksheets and models is part of the job of helping visually impaired students grasp visual concepts. Even if it is just for a single week's project, or a 10 question quiz, it's worth the effort.

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