The underlying goal of art museums is as follows: (a) to provide public access to their artcollections, (b) to assure the preservation of artifacts for future generations, and (c) to promoteart education and learning.
However, due to the “ocularcentric” nature of art museums, blindand visually impaired people are continuously being excluded from participating in museumlife.
As a result of the 2004 Disabilities Discrimination Act (DDA) increasing legal pressurehas been placed on museums to develop inclusive programming for the blind and visuallyimpaired.
Yet, much of the “inclusive” programming is ineffectual and rudimentary. Blind andvisually impaired scholars and intellectuals are frustrated with the lack of rigorous educationalopportunities available to them at art institutions. As one blind woman explained, “[theprograms] tend to be very, I know it is a horrible term but, dullened out, when you go out tothings that are organized [for blind people] … where it is almost the lowest commondenominator.”
Others argued that the visitors’ inability to employ other forms of sensoryperception at museums inhibits their understanding and ability to appreciate, enjoy and learnabout art. A blind woman affirmed that she never fully understands what a person is describinguntil she can touch the actual object being discussed.
Words and descriptions are not asmeaningful as personal sensory experiences. Therefore, in the following essay, I will discuss theneed to improve museum education programming in order to guarantee that the blind and thevisually impaired have the same opportunities to access museum collections as seeing persons.Further, I will argue that in privileging the sense of sight over other senses (e.g. touch) museumsare preventing all people (sighted and blind alike) from having embodied learning experiences,
Valorie Beer. “The Problem and Promise of Museum Goals.” In
Curator: The Museum Journal
Fiona Candlin. “Blindness, Art and Exclusion in Museums and Galleries.” In
The International Journal of Art & Design Education
22, no. 1 (2003): 101.