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Our Mission

To provide equal opportunities in cultural settings for people with vision loss.

Our Team

Trish Maunder

Trish Maunder

Trish is the Creative Director and co-founder of Philly Touch Tours. Her career as an educator working in art and cultural settings is infused with the belief that curiosity with opportunities to learn in multi-sensory ways are the leading forces behind a socially aware and fulfilling life. Her children, two of whom were born with vision loss, inspired her own sense of discovery. Guided by latest research and principles of best practice, Trish designs and presents creative and inclusive programs and workshops for children and adults about the revelatory nature of the sense of touch in art, nature and in our everyday lives.

Knowing that people who are blind or visually impaired are often constrained in their enjoyment of cultural inclusion by limited access and lack of understanding and misconceptions by others has inspired Trish and her team to redress this in the Philadelphia area with the development of Philly Touch Tours.

In 2013, Trish received the Mae Davidow Community Service Award from Philadelphia Regional Chapter of the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind and in 2014, Insights into Ancient Egypt, a series of specially designed tours and workshops in collaboration with people with vision loss at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, received acclaim in the international press and received Philadelphia's Art-Reach Cultural Access Award.

Austin Seraphin

Austin, outdoors at Fairmount Park Horticulture Center, Philadelphia

Austin is the co-founder of Philly Touch Tours. Being blind himself, Austin knows firsthand that cultural access can be challenging. His experience with Penn Museum's popular accessible touch program, Insights into Ancient Egypt, which he co-designed and presents, clearly demonstrates that people with vision loss are active participants in enriching cultural and social programs and events. Austin is excited to respond by creating new and exciting sensory experiences and tours and to also offer training in inclusionary practice and accessible web design to cultural venues and organizations from with a 'People-first' perspective.

Austin is an access technology consultant, working locally with companies to make their websites accessible by screen readers. He specializes in iOS and Linux Operating Systems and presents at local, national and international conferences. In 2014, Austin received the Annual Access Achievement award from the Mayoral Council on People with Disabilities and along with Philadelphia artist, Sonia Petruse, received the accolade 'Visual Artists of the Year' at the Philadelphia Geek Awards for a Braille Street Art project that challenges the status quo with activist commentary.

Katherine Allen

Katherine Allen

Katherine is an accessibility consultant and the newest member of the Philly Touch Tour team. After moving to Philadelphia in the fall of 2012 she has immersed herself in the city’s cultural communities, including LGBT youth and disability access groups. Allen was a founding team leader in accessibility skills and awareness training at a world-wide technology company and served as a consultant on the Council for Accessibility at the NYU Langone Medical Center. Allen was a Creative Director at the Nielsen Company, Publication Division, for many years , leading teams in corporate projects , design and marketing.

Diagnosed with macular degeneration in early adulthood , Allen has used accessibility technology as a means to enrich her life and work and the lives of others . She is a member and creator of the #CommonTouch Vision Council—an advisory group to the Exhibition of the same name.


Creative Colleagues

Carol Cole

Carol, pictured left with inset of small photographs of her work to the right

Carol is a Philadelphia based artist who creates abstract mixed-media sculptures using found objects and hand made paper.

In a special partnership with Philly Touch Tours, Carol generously allows selected pieces of her work to be touched and explored by artists, educators and students, both sighted and visually impaired, to encourage a deeper awareness of this primary sense and its impact on learning and understanding.

Carol and Trish have worked together on many projects and presentations over the years: 'Not For Your Eyes Only' Gershman Y, Philadelphia, (2002); Touch, An Art Experience For The Senses, DaVinci Art Alliance, NYC Museum Educator's Conference, Metropolitan Museum of Art (2008), The Delphi Art Futures Program, Philadelphia Museum of Art (2009), Psychology of Touch, UArts (2003-2012) Art and Design Alumni Workshop Series (2015)

Carol's inspiring work can be viewed on her website.

Maria Mossette Kretschmann

Maria, second from the left, showing members of Philly Touch Tours' team the replica mummy

Maria is a Philly based artist who creates ancient Egyptian replica for Philly Touch Tours Partnership Program with Penn Museum: 'Insights into Ancient Egypt.'

Maria's creative process, making a replica mummy (using a friend as the model), an accessible statue of Ramesses II and the very beautiful, if a little scary, Sekhmet mask, can be found at this link: http://mariamosette.blogspot.com

This short documentary highlights Maria's motivation as a sculptor and features Philly Touch Tours' program, 'Insights into Ancient Egypt: In Touch with Mummies'.

Maria Kretschmann sculpts "Touch Tours" for the Blind.

See more of Maria's sculpture here