An Exploration of the Lived Experiences of Children with Visual Impairments Visiting an Art Museum
Kelsey, Pamela Frances Bonnabel
MetadataShow full item record
Art museums have the capacity to play a vital role in society, enriching the lives of the members of a community and providing visitors of all ages and abilities with social and intellectual experiences. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to examine what it is like for children with visual impairments to experience artwork in an art museum setting involving multisensory modalities. Through an interpretivist methodology, the case study investigated how four children with visual impairments constructed meaning through their interactions with works of art and shared that understanding through their own voices. In an interactive environment of learning, each child participated in a private docent-led tour that comprised three stops in a museum’s permanent collection. The child interacted with various tactile aids such as interpretive replicas of the artwork, written descriptions provided in braille and large print, and touch key/ legend boards with tactile items used in the creation of the replicas. In addition to the tactile aids, the docent guided the child through a discussion of the historical and artistic elements of the artist’s work. Data evidence was collected through direct observation of participants via field notes, docent-child conversational audio recordings, photographs, small segments of videotapes, and open-ended interviews of all participants in the study. To analyze the data, the constant comparison inquiry approach was used as a means to compare and contrast units and categories of field texts to produce conceptual understandings of the children’s experiences. The findings suggest that how children with visual impairments engage with a range of tactile assistance and dialogue with a docent in a museum setting is an important part of their mode of interpretation if appropriate approaches and methods are implemented. The results of this study may benefit art museum educators as they develop tours for children with visual impairments. By focusing on the needs of the child with visual impairment and listening to his voice, museum educators may find value and plan creative ways in which to incorporate the his/her unique perspectives.