If you have a visually impaired friend or relative, you are probably well aware of their challenges, but more so of their strengths in other areas that can simply blow you away–from all the other senses which are so heightened, to their sense of memory, to other general super powers.
One thing I have noticed in a visually impaired friend who was injured as a child (and has gone on to get her PhD and outdo just about everyone I know, intellectually) is that she misses out on very little, and certainly doesn’t expect to be held back except in the most difficult of situations. Certainly, art is not an area where anyone should be left behind, and while some may not be able to see what we see exactly, often concepts and textures can be translated into something even more valuable and vibrant than splashes of colorful paint or a well-framed canvas.
This entire line of thinking is one encompassed by 3DPhotoWorks. Headquartered in Chatham, NY, this company has been dedicated to the development of 3D tactile fine art printing for the blind for over seven years. With stunning innovation in 3D printing, they have already been able to meet great progress in helping the blind.
Specializing in providing access to access to art and photography, 3DPhotoWorks offers technology that converts any painting, drawing, collage or photograph to a 3D Tactile Fine Art Print. With length, width, depth, and texture at hand, literally, visually impaired art enthusiasts are able to enjoy the art. We’ve been following their progress as specialists in this area as they have become more focused on 3D printed art products for the blind.
“Our goal is to make the world’s greatest art and greatest photography available to blind people at every museum, every science center and every cultural institution, first in this country and then beyond,” says John Olson, co-founder of 3DPhotoWorks.
Olson, an experienced photographer, spent years snapping images of wars and even traveled with presidents. He has a very strong understanding of the power of the image–and how debilitating it would be to be deprived of such a thing–which is part of what drives his dedication.
While museums do what they can to serve their visitors, the team at 3DPhotoWorks realizes that there is not much there for the blind. To solve this issue, they have developed their tactile works so that the blind can visualize–and even hear–as the art also contains sensors and audio and gives a comprehensive ‘picture.’
“It’s the difference between reading about a rose, and smelling one,” says Olsen.
With 285 million blind and sight impaired individuals in the world, however, their goals are enormous and require more funding for helping everyone to be able to create a mental picture with art. 3DPhotoWorks has just launched a Kickstarter campaign in the hopes to raise $500,000 by Dec 9th.
To ‘bring the world’s greatest art to blind people,’ they emphasize that even a $5 pledge makes a huge difference in this campaign. Levels of support vary though, with a pledge of $25 offering the reward of a digital sculpture in the form of a “mini” Mona Lisa, Van Gogh’s Dr. Gachet or a depiction of Washington Crossing the Delaware. All three are available for a pledge of $75.
At $85, they offer a talking clock, and along with several varying packages that offer tees and coffee mugs, you can pitch in a generous $135 with the reward of a 2009 Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar commemorating the 200th anniversary of Louis Braille’s birth. There are Braille watches, digital sculptures encased in clear acrylic, and edging up to the $1,000 mark, supporters receive art archival prints.
You can also donate sums of $5,000, $7,500 or $10,000 or more and select your favorite art, upon which 3DPhotoWorks will donate a 3D Tactile Fine Art version of it to the museum of your choosing in your name or in the name of a person you designate.
With the funds from the campaign, the team will be able to expand in all areas and increase production. Once manufacturing capability has been increased properly, they expect it will take around 120 days to begin sharing their products with those who supported the campaign. Discuss this story with us in the 3DPhotoWorks forum thread on 3DPB.com.