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Multi Sensory Workshops

Multi Sensory Workshops

Our team presents a variety of dynamic experiential workshops that encourage participants to engage more fully with the power of their sense of touch, appreciation of other senses and awareness about others with vision loss and other sensory impairments.

Our workshops are designed for a wide range of participants:

  • Museum and cultural institution staff
  • University and grade school educators and students
  • Medical professionals and students
  • Artists and art educators
  • Professionals and volunteers working with people with special needs
  • Professionals and volunteers working with people with special needs
  • Any group that serves the general public and wishes to be better informed about customers or clients with vision loss
  • People with vision loss

Touch, An Art Experience for the Senses

This two-hour experiential workshop is suitable for educators, artists and middle, high school and college age students.

Bodily sensations, the nature of various materials and tactile experiences of form and space inform this multi-sensory approach to art that can be used in the K-12 classroom. Join us in this revealing, hands-on workshop presented by Trish Maunder, artist, educator and accessibility consultant and Austin Seraphin, an accessibility consultant who has been blind since birth.

  • What does including the qualitative nature of touch do to enhance the art experience?
  • Who might benefit from this universal approach to making and appreciating art?
  • Suggestions for creative and multisensory projects in portrait painting, still life composition, tactile quilts, collage projects, raised line drawings and more will be demonstrated and shared.

Participants are offered the option of wearing a blindfold or low vision goggles to facilitate a deeper awareness of this primary sense and its impact on learning and understanding.


As an M.A.T candidate in Art Eduction at the University of the Arts, I have a strong interest in the methodologies of teaching visual art concepts and practices to special populations. I was therefore, very excited to participate in Philly Touch Tours co-founders Trish Maunder and Austin Seraphin's workshop, TOUCH: An Art Experience For The Senses during the University of the Art's 2015 Alumni and Friends Art + Design Workshops event.

Trish and Austin, with the assistance of mixed-media sculptor Carol Cole, presented a fascinating and revealing workshop that placed its participants into the world of the visually impaired - by removing our dependence on eyesight to both analyze and comprehend art. By immediately eliminating an ocular dialog, we learned how to re-approach, intimately engage with, and 'see' art pieces with our other senses. The exercises performed in TOUCH broke down many restrictive preconceptions about the accessibility of both experiencing and creating art. Bravo to TOUCH for a fun, energetic, informative, and thoroughly unforgettable event!

By Julien Tomasello, M.A.T. Candidate in Art Education, University of the Arts, Philadelphia

Touch, The Forgotten Sense in Art

This two-hour experiential workshop is suitable for educators, artists and middle, high school and college age students.

This hands-on experiential session demonstrates the implications and importance of the sense of touch through interaction with works of art. Participants explore the art objects in terms of size, volume, texture, positive/negative space, orientation, kinesthesia, and even temperature through their hands and whole body.

Participants share their experiences and consider the implications for art presentation, education and art making. They will leave with a keener awareness of their own sense of touch and perception and with ideas of how to incorporate this 'hands-on' approach into the museum experience and/or community arts programs for children and adults, as well as in their own art making.

Participants are offered the option of wearing a blindfold or low vision goggles to facilitate a deeper awareness of this primary sense and its impact on learning and understanding.

Empathy Training: An inclusionary approach for medical staff

What can medical staff and students learn about the challenges faced by those with disabilities/different abilities in a medical climate of patient/person-centered care?

Patients want to know what to expect when they have an appointment for a procedure or even a regular health check. A sensitive and empathetic approach will to ensure the patient's sense of inclusion, trust and respect.

  • How do you give directions to or guide a person with vision loss?
  • Is it OK to say, "It's nice to see you!" to a person who is blind?
  • Which is correct, saying: "The man in the wheelchair" or "Mr. Jones, who is a wheelchair user?"
  • Should you ask a person with a disability what time their appointment is or is it best to ask their assistant or family member?

Participants explore ways to comfortably engage with their patients with sensory or physical impairments though open and lively dialogue and discussion. Appropriate use of language and techniques to support and assist will be shared through a 'People-first' perspective.


Comments by Medical Students, Drexel University College of Medicine

Training the Physician's Eye: Enhancing Clinical Skills through Art Observation

I liked that you explained things without assuming that the people in the workshop had previous knowledge or experience working with the visually impaired and that you offered helpful suggestions for working with them in the future. There are many things we take for granted by looking at objects and therefore we don't employ all of our sense when we experience them. This workshop encouraged us to explore things not only through touch but also through smell and sound.

I will definitely use the suggestions made for verbal guidance for the visually impaired in the future. This was a great workshop and I think everyone would be able to learn from it and benefit.
The workshop was a valuable experience because it's much easier to relate to how a person with visual impairment may experience their surroundings by simulating having a visual impairment ourselves rather than just hearing about it in a presentation. It was interesting having to use touch and smell to explore the different objects. I feel that sight is definitely the most immediate and obvious way I perceive objects and the world in general, and I think by using touch and smell, I got information about the objects I may have ignored if sight was available to me. It has sort of reminded me to use all of my senses more fully and be more aware of different sensory stimuli.

When I get to see more patients in my later years of medical school, I will definitely be able to apply what I learned, such as carefully observing the patient to determine their needs and trying to accommodate them as best I can given their situation.
I think the discussion of how to be cognizant and respectful for individuals with disabilities was the most valuable part of the program and having everyone around the room describe what they felt was valuable and allowed everyone to share and find similarities in how we touch and feel. I like how the team discussed how to help guide someone who is visually impaired, and the etiquette involved in offering help. I think being able to describe an environment without the assumption of sight is something I've started doing. It also helps to do this in the anatomy lab when you have to rely on touch rather than sight.

I think that any medical student would benefit greatly from experiencing this workshop. A very rewarding experience!


To inquire about consultations, workshop fees and webinar presentations please contact:

Trish Maunder
Austin Seraphin
Phone: 215-790-9079
Twitter: @PHLtouchtours