Talk Tuesday: 3DPhotoWorks, Making Art Accessible

Art can bring a room alive; it allows a person to see the world through another’s eyes. Art is a form of expression that can give a glimpse into the artist/photographer’s frame of mind, their thought processes. Walking into an art museum there are many beautiful paintings hanging on the wall, just waiting to be admired by onlookers. But, imagine not being able to physically see what is hanging before you, as your sighted counterparts. For blind/visually impaired individuals, they do not have to imagine because it is their reality.
Art is a visual aspect of life, where up until recently, people with visual impairments have been left out of. Today, many artists and photographers are trying to be more inclusive by transforming their work into tactile pieces that can be felt, as well as seen. Particularly, a company, 3DPhotoWorks, is becoming a champion within the phenomenon of accessible art.
Since around 2008, 3DPhotoWorks has worked tirelessly to incorporate tactile art into museums and cultural organizations. The founder, a well accomplished photographer, John Olson, has a passion for photography. He told People magazine that when creating this venture, he did not know any people with visual impairments. But, to put it simply, he couldn’t imagine not being able to see the beautiful images that he has grown to love. Mr. Olson saw a need, and decided to do something about it. Mr. Olson, along with a team of engineers, devised a way to transform any piece of art and photography into a tactile format.
Feeling art allows a person to visualize, create a mental image of what they perceive the picture is capturing. Tactile art allows for autonomy, as well as creativity. According to Luke, a 12 year old boy, who suddenly went blind due to the same condition that I have, hydrocephalus, the tactile art was vivid. Specifically, he said, “It had texture and such incredible detail that I almost felt like I was there.” The art came alive for Luke, as it does for other people with visual impairments, when given the chance to touch it. Offering hope, tactile art allows visually impaired individuals to participate in something that they never thought would be possible.

To learn more about 3DPhotoWorks, and how you can help, check out

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