Tuesday, May 24, 2016

'Seeing' through Touch – To Them, Their Fingers Are Eyes

From 1913, John Alfred Charlton Deas, a former curator at Sunderland Museum, organised several handling sessions for the blind, first offering an invitation to the children from the Sunderland Council Blind School, to handle a few of the collections at Sunderland Museum, which was ‘eagerly accepted’.

They were so successful that Deas went on to develop and arrange a course of regular handling sessions, extending the invitations to blind adults.

The work that J. A. Charlton Deas carried out whilst at Sunderland Museum is much to be admired. His interest in the education of the blind and his determination to assist in their development, had a great impact on how they viewed the world.

A blind person 'seeing' through touch of a skeleton at Sunderland Museum, 1913

A group of blind children feeling the stuffed walrus at Sunderland Museum, 1913

A group of blind children from Sunderland School for the blind and their teacher at Sunderland Museum, 1913

A group of blind people in various costumes (shepherds and angels) in a yard beside some large corrugated iron buildings,
this will be a nativity play they were in, Dec 1924

A young blind boy is sitting on a mounted pig at Sunderland Museum, 1913

A young blind girl examining mounted birds at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, 1913

A young boy 'seeing' the object through touch at Sunderland Museum, 1913

Blind adults are listening to a short lecture at Sunderland Museum before examining a human skeleton, 1913

Blind children and their teacher are sitting in the prehistoric dug out canoe, 1913

Blind children examining a mounted polar bear at Sunderland Museum, June 1913

Blind girl and boy holding a model aeroplane at Sunderland Museum, December 19, 1924

Blind men who chose to sit in the stocks from Bishopwearmouth Green, 1913

Blind people of Sunderland 'seeing' what their Town's War memorial is to be like by feeling a model one-tenth of its full size (the woman lost her sight through a Zeppelin raid on the town, in April, 1916), 30 Nov 1921

Blind visitors examining arms and armour at the Sunderland Museum, 1913

Blind visitors inspecting illuminating and extinguishing weapons at Sunderland Museum, 1913

Blind visitors to Sunderland Museum are handling the reptile specimens, including the crocodile and shells, June 1913

Blind visitors to Sunderland Museum 'seeing' a copy of the Portland Vase through touch, 1913

Blind visitors to Sunderland Museum, examining models of the old and new bridge across the river Wear, June 1921

Blind women examining articles worn by soldiers at Sunderland Museums, 1913

Boys examining a Buddha at Sunderland Museum in 1913

Busts of famous men being examined by the Blind,1913

Children from Sunderland School for the blind going on an excursion to the hayfields, the charabanc is parked outside the Central Library and Museum in Sunderland, and many of the children had never been in a motor before, July 1924

Children from the Council School for the blind are holding various objects from Sunderland Museum, 1913

Men examining and wearing some British and German gas masks, June 1913

Replicas in silver of the Queen's Doll's House Table Service, being shown to the blind children at Sunderland Museum,
 8th Jan 1926

Sighted guides showing a model locomotive to the blind visitors at Sunderland Museum, 1913

Sunderland blind children in a hayfield with their carers, they felt the shape of a cow for the first time,
and were alarmed at its size, July 1924

Sunderlands blind schoolmaster and one of his scholars, 1913

The blind visitors are examining an exact model of the Coronation chair at Sunderland Museum, 1913

Three blind children are wearing and examining arms and armour at the Sunderland Museum, 1913

Two blind men examining a German saw bayonet, 1913

Two young blind girls are examining the mounted pig through touch at Sunderland Museum, 1913

(Photos from Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums)

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