Thailand: Researchers work on bringing art to visually impaired students
“Art is my favorite subject,” Nattinan Dankratok, a Mathayom-4 student at Kanlayanawat School in Khon Kaen province, said.
However, after she lost her eyesight, she has been spending her art classes learning braille, while her classmates get their hands dirty learning about art.
“Most visually impaired students cannot fully participate in art classes,” Onanong Ritruechai, art lecturer at Khon Kaen University (KKU), said. However, it’s not really the school’s fault, as it does not have the media to fully engage visually impaired students, she explained.
Onanong is part of a team of researchers who are working with high-school teachers to create media to teach visual art to blind students, as well as devise a teaching style that does not leave anyone behind.
Team leader Sanchai Santiwes, who is also a lecturer at KKU’s Architecture Faculty, explained that the researchers wanted to create 3-dimensional media and found that the 3D printer worked the best.
In front of him are small plastic statues of some world-famous pieces of art, like Michelangelo’s David, Rodin’s Thinker and a miniature of the monolithic Moai Statue on Easter Island.
Onanong said these tools would help visually challenged students better appreciate art, learn art history and the concepts of aesthetics.
Also, statues and bas relief can guide blind students to create their own works of art, Onanong said.
The idea is simple, but changing attitudes have proved to be difficult, especially with teachers basing their grades on how “beautiful” or realistic a piece of art is, the researchers said.
If a blind student is to join students with eyesight, grades will have to be given based on creativity, not beauty, she said.
The researchers have just joined hands with art teachers in four schools in Khon Kaen, including Kanlayanawat School, to implement their initiatives and come up with the most effective way to teach art to all students.
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