Tactile Images Partners With Getty Images and the National Federation of the Blind to Deliver More Than 45 Million Images to the World’s Blind and Disabled Population

Blind People Share What Photography and Art They Want to Experience First. National Federation of the Blind Granting $500,000 to Museums and Institutions for Tactile Exhibition Displays.

Getty Images, a world leader in visual communications, and the National Federation of the Blind, America’s civil rights and membership organization of the blind, have partnered with Tactile Images to deliver more than 45 million images to the world’s blind and disabled population at museums, science centers, libraries, schools, and government agencies. This partnership will significantly enhance educational opportunities and cultural inclusion for blind and disabled individuals.

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As part of this initiative, more than 50,000 members of the blind community shared what photography and art they wanted to experience first. The National Federation of the Blind reinforced this by announcing that they will be granting $500,000 to museums and institutions for the development of tactile exhibition displays.

“Blind people have all the same interests, concerns, and aspirations as all who participate in our society and culture, and that culture is reflected in the millions of images that this partnership will help us access,” said Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “We look forward to working with Tactile Images and Getty Images to curate a collection that will include, inform, and inspire the blind of America and the world.”

Getty Images, the National Federation of the Blind, and Tactile Images are committed to participating in initiatives that provide greater accessibility to visual resources, with an emphasis on photography and fine art, that represent the world’s people and cultures, including the blind and those with disabilities. This commitment involves helping people fully understand and experience the society within which they live, providing unique educational perspectives and increasing access to content that may have previously been inaccessible. This partnership reinforces a collective commitment to improving accessibility for and inclusion of people from all backgrounds, including those who are blind.

“In a world where communication is largely visual, Getty Images is thrilled to partner with the National Federation of the Blind and Tactile Images to allow the blind community to more fully engage with and experience our pictures,” said Peter Orlowsky, Head of Strategic Development at Getty Images.

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Tactile Images has several product offerings, all of which allow a blind individual to experience and engage with traditionally visual and graphic material through touch and sensory stimulation. Each is a unique, one-of-a-kind work of art. To further assist in creating a more interactive experience, braille is utilized for text, and sensors are embedded so that when touched, a customized audio description and narrative is activated. Components that emit unique smells can also be used. These three senses – touch, hearing, and smell – work together in the brain to replace the sense of sight. The blind or low-vision user creates a mental picture from this confluence of sensory stimulation. Touching a tactile print while listening to a coordinated audio presentation creates an enhanced kinesthetic learning experience.

“At Tactile Images, we are very excited that Getty Images and the National Federation of the Blind have decided to partner with us. This partnership will help to bring tactile imagery to the blind and disabled on a global scale,” says John Olson, Co-Founder of 3DPhotoWorks, the parent company of Tactile Images. “I’ve always believed that truly ‘seeing’ an image involves much more than just the sense of sight. As the notable American neuroscientist, Dr. Paul Bach-y-Rita, once stated, ‘We don’t see with our eyes or hear with our ears; these are just the receptors, seeing and hearing in fact, goes on in the brain.’ We look forward to partnering with museums, science centers, libraries, and government agencies to make their existing content more accessible while also creating new and innovative installations and exhibitions.”

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