Disability, art and museums: low-vision and blind community
During the course of my graduate studies, my research work has focused on issues of accessibility to visual arts for museum visitors from the low-vision and blind community. As a researcher working at the intersection of different disciplines—art history, cultural mediations, museum studies, disability studies, visitor studies—I have always position myself from a disability studies perspective. Thus, it was very important for me to adopt a participatory (co-design) and inclusive approach in which participants would be considered as experts of their own experience. My Master’s thesis included the co-creation of two prototypes that translated the colours in Alfred Pellan’s painting Prisme d’Yeux into tactile representation of the painting in which different colours were denoted by different textures. The outcome of this project was very significant as the prototypes were used by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts as mediation tools and exhibited in the permanent collection from 2018 to 2019. This research has also been featured in numerous media stories on a national and international level, such as La Presse, Radio-Canada, Le Devoir, AMI-Télé, The Globe and Mail, and Radio-Canada International, just to name a few. With my PhD thesis being a continuation of this my MA research, I gave a total of 25 interviews with the media since 2017.
My PhD work evolves from my earlier work as it investigates the contribution of multisensoriality in the understanding and appreciation of two-dimensional artistic contents, by individuals with visual impairments. As such, it will also examine the “sonification”–the use of non-speech audio to perceptualize data–of colours to create an augmented version of tactile prototypes. This experimental project will provide an important complement to existing research and resources in this area, which tend to focus on translating—via recorded audio descriptions—the narrative content of paintings rather than on their colour content and composition.