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‘Seeing through touch’: the material world of visually impaired children

Ian Grosvenor, Natasha Macnab


This article examines the changing material world of the visually impaired child and the ways in which this has been viewed and understood by scholars, philosophers, educators and other commentators over time. It describes and analyses tactile encounters as they have been planned for by educators, museum curators and others, from the Age of the Enlightenment until the present day. It takes as its starting point a recent blog that appeared online in 2011, which posted images from handling sessions for the visually impaired child, organized by John Alfred Charlton Deas from Sunderland Museum, England, between 1913-1926. It traces the provenance and development of ideas around ‘seeing through touch’, from the embossed books and maps and the printing machines for systems such as Braille in the nineteenth century to the theoretical and pedagogical developments which began to occur at the start of the twentieth century.

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