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AEB was founded in 1987 by Elisabeth Salzhauer Axel, now our Executive Director, who was then embarking on her career as a museum educator. Inspired by her grandmother, a gifted artist and lifelong art lover who was then beginning to lose her sight, and by a com-mitment to social justice, Ms. Axel set out to find ways to make art and visual culture acces-sible to people who are blind or visually impaired, pioneering a new field in promoting this novel idea.
AEB provides and promotes the many important, tangible, skill-building, educational, psy-chosocial, and quality of life benefits of art education, museum visits, and artmaking for children and adults with sight loss - to give those who cannot see equal access to the world's visual culture and the opportunity to experience the life-enhancing power of art.
AEB's accomplishments have proven that access to the world's visual culture enables blind and visually impaired people to participate more fully in their communities and in the world at large, improves the quality of their lives, and helps them gain skills crucial to their educa-tion and employment opportunities.
AEB creates the methods to make the worlds of art, art history, and visual information ac-cessible to blind and visually impaired people. We develop the teaching techniques, special curricula, and accessibility programs used by museums and schools for their blind patrons and students. We publish these accessible-art techniques in our innovative print and multi-media educational publications designed for museum professionals, educators, and blind and visually impaired children and adults and their families.
Headquartered in New York City, AEB carries out its work as the leader and facilitator of an international, multi-disciplinary collaborative of sighted and blind museum professionals, artists, educators, scientists, scholars, rehabilitation professionals, and blind and visually impaired advisors throughout the world. AEB organizes a major semi-annual international conference on Multi-modal Approaches to Learning that attracts professionals and institu-tions from five continents.
Here's what we do:
1. We create the accessible art and art education programs that many prominent museums now provide for their blind and visually impaired visitors. AEB works in partnership with many renowned museums in New York, across the nation, and around the world, such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, El Museo del Barrio, the Whitney, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Guggen-heim, The Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Philadel-phia Museum of Art, the Miami Art Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum in Eng-land, the Louvre in France, and many, many more.
2. We create innovative publications, resource materials, and curricula for use by museums, cultural institutions, schools, community-based organizations and other centers of learning.
Some examples are: Art Beyond Sight, a Resource Guide to Art, Creativity, and Visual Impairment, co-published by AEB and the American Foundation for the Blind, and a companion video co-produced by AEB and the Museum of Modern Art; pro-gram start-up plans; our Handbook for Museums and Educators and our compre-hensive Teachers' Resource, both currently in development; and Art History Through Touch and Sound, a 21-volume multi-media, multi-sensory art encyclope-dia for blind and visually impaired people; 6 volumes have been produced to date, with 11 more close to completion. The encyclopedia features art historical text along with tactile and sound/multi-sensory interpretations of artworks from all periods of art history.
3. AEB's Art Beyond Sight Multi-Media Online Resource: Currently under develop-ment, AEB is taking its work to a new level through this fully accessible, multi-media website, which will offer sighted and non-sighted users a multitude of resources de-veloped or coordinated by AEB and its collaborators around the world. The Online Resource will offer guides for developing accessible art and education programs in museums, teaching lessons and materials, including our comprehensive Teachers' Resource, and publications such as our Handbook for Educators and Museums, plus online workshops and courses, audio and video demonstrations, databases of 15 years of research findings, discussion groups, a calendar of events, news, and more, all in one central online site. We also plan to offer our Art History Through Touch and Sound encyclopedia online.
4. We advance knowledge in the issues of blindness, art, sensory perception, and the capabilities of blind people by bringing together researchers and pro-fessionals working in many different disciplines. And we collect and disseminate new findings that integrate recent research from professionals in many different fields that don't usually interact with each other, such as museum professionals, educators, medical doctors and psychologists, brain researchers and software developers.
5. AEB's Annual Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month: Raising awareness and bringing together researchers, scholars, and blind, visually impaired, and sighted art lovers. Awareness Month is an annual series of special events, including exhibits, art demonstrations, and conferences, which take place throughout the month of October at major museums, schools, libraries and other educational and cultural institutions, along with online discussion groups and a unique interdisciplinary telephone seminar. Awareness Month brings together museum professionals, educators, researchers, the media, and sighted and blind artists and art lovers from around the world, to take part in AEB's mission to make pictorial literacy and access to the worlds of art and visual culture a reality for all people who are blind or visually impaired.
6. We have a variety of NYC hands-on pilot projects. We work with various commu-nity organizations in presenting free arts programs for seniors and people with vision loss. We work with the New York City Board of Education's Educational Visions Services in training teachers in creating and using tactile diagrams in the classroom, and in writing verbal descriptions. We have an occupational and art therapy program for school-age children with vision loss - a program that not only teaches basic living skills, but also enhances a child's self image, encourages independence, and im-proves communication, literacy and social skills.
7. AEB's newest project, New York Beyond Sight, makes the cultural treasures of NYC accessible to people who are blind through visual descriptions recorded by prominent New Yorkers and featured on a special Web site.
Art Education for the Blind (AEB) is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) charitable organization; all
contributions to AEB are tax-deductible.
589 Broadway, 4th Fl., New York, NY 10012 (212) 334-8720 www.artbeyondsight.org
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