People who are blind and visually impaired have traditionally had limited access to most cultural experiences and events. This stems from a general lack of awareness mixed with concerns about safety and appropriate use of language by professionals in cultural settings and by the public at large.
Our team of sighted and visually impaired consultants and educators train key staff members about the basic principles of creating inclusive programs and events for visitors with vision loss.
In Partnership with Penn Museum
Our team presents an intense three-hour interactive learning experience in the classroom and galleries for staff and docents from museums and cultural institutions and for Museum Studies students.
This open and lively session gives participants an opportunity to meet and speak with blind/visually impaired and sighted staff and docents while considering principles of Best Practice, accessible program design and the subtle nuances of the sense of touch.
Our first hour is spent in the classroom learning about verbal description, sighted guide and important disability etiquette. Next we visit the Museum galleries to experience interaction with ancient objects. Participants are invited to wear Low Vision Simulation goggles to better understand some of the challenges of vision loss and the revelations of learning through touch. We then return to the classroom to share, discuss and debrief the experience.
"I wanted to extend my gratitude for your time, your thoroughness, and your warmth. The experience our staff had doing the Touch Tour training with you was truly transformational! I've never experienced anything like it - it is a completely different way of experiencing the world. It was such a great pleasure to work so intimately with your wonderful staff and to see the Penn Museum in a totally different light. I don't think I'll ever forget it! It really helped us understand how blind and sight-impaired people learn, and gave us incredibly important insight into making our collection more accessible. It was absolutely invaluable!"
By Meredith Sellers, Programs Assistant The Center for Education and Public Initiatives, Mütter Museum
Our team offers an initial walkthrough of your cultural institution or museum, an assessment of safe navigation routes and identification of objects and exhibitions with touch/sensory components that are inclusive of visitors with vision loss.
We then offer a second, detailed and comprehensive collaboration with design ideas for a tactile and multi sensory program or exhibit with successful, inclusive cultural engagement for blind and visually impaired visitors.
Is it OK to use the words 'look' and 'see' when speaking to a blind person?
Can people with vision loss see shape and color and is it OK to ask?
Do blind people 'watch' or 'listen' to TV?
How should you help a blind person navigate through your gallery or cross a street?
What is Sighted Guide?
Find out more through this lively, open and informative session led by consultants and educators who are both sighted and visually impaired. We begin by dispelling misconceived and stereotypical notions and allaying worries about working with people who are blind or visually impaired replacing it with a frank and lively presentation about the preferred use of language, verbal description and Sighted Guide techniques and other techniques that puts everyone at ease. We guarantee that your group will quickly understand the credo, 'Nothing about us without us,' once they share knowledge and ideas with people who love history, art and culture and who also have vision loss.
We offer half day or full day training sessions for a wide range of professionals:
Comments by Philly Tour Hub Guides and Association of Philadelphia Tour Guides
It was revelatory to understand a little more how people who have low vision or are blind experience their surroundings.
It was important to hear from and understand the perspective of people with vision loss who we will be guiding on tours.
It was great to wear the low vision simulation goggles and actively walk around as a guide and being guided. Key points of the training were learning how to ask a blind or visually impaired person he or she needs assistance and thinking about the tactile quality of objects that we handled.
It was absolutely wonderful to learn and practice new skills and meet all kinds of interesting people. Key points were learning how to be very descriptive and clear but also to not be overly 'PC' or edited in your normal use of language. It was all much more immersive than simply looking!
I am very excited to continue with training, I really liked that we did physical activities, wore the low vision goggles and used so many different adjectives and comparisons in describing things.
The experience was eye opening. The training provided information about necessary considerations for guiding, properly describing surroundings and giving directions to a blind person. It caused me to evaluate my sense of touch and increase the use of my sense of smell
This 90 minute Webinar presentation features a Power Point and video featuring Philly Touch Tour's Partnership Program with the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology: Insights into Ancient Egypt: Touch Tours for Visitors who are Blind or Visually Impaired.
The session will highlight 'Best Practices' for forming cultural partnerships with and for visitors with vision loss while considering the revelatory quality of the tactile sense for everyone. Touch is the mother of the senses, the cornerstone of human experience and communication and as such can help us reconnect to memories and past experiences and develop a greater sensitivity and awareness to the world around us. This field of inquiry is informed by neuroscientists, curators, people with disabilities, artists, architects and others studying the phenomenology of touch.