The National Federation of the Blind considers appreciation for and enjoyment of art as part of living the life we want as blind Americans. To help break down the barriers that result from the stereotype based on low expectations that “blind people don’t do art,” the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute collaborated with tactile artist Ann Cunningham to host a tactile art and tactile graphics symposium, "Putting More STEAM in STEM” at our Baltimore headquarters on December 9 and 10, 2016. With the thirty artists, educators, and art enthusiasts who attended this symposium, we began the creation of a community of supporters around tactile art and tactile graphics through education and the sharing of resources.
Part of the symposium was devoted to the examination of tactile art and discussions among the participants on how to get museum curators, art collectors, and members of the general public to view art that is meant to be touched as serious art. To help facilitate this change in attitude, the Jacobus tenBroek Library was transformed into an art gallery for a public exhibit of tactile art by artists such as acclaimed blind sculptor Michael Naranjo, Ann Cunningham, Debbie Kent Stein, and Jenny Callahan. The sense of excitement of being able to fully experience an art exhibit that was felt by the blind adults and children who attended was palpable.