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Making Art Accessible

By Robyn Rennie 

I am a visual artist with low vision who wants to change the accessibility of art. 

I paint abstract landscapes to convey how I experience my world after vision loss. Sighted people are very curious about how things appear from my point-of-view.

It's a common misconception that people who are blind or partially sighted aren't interested in visual arts. As I became more aware of accessibility issues as it concerned my own sight loss, I thought about the accessibility of art. 

Robyn Rennie poses for a photo in front of her colourful artwork next to a digital printed QR Code. She is holding a small, chocolate-brown dog.
Robyn Rennie 

While my public art installations were always designed to be accessible (and have braille titles whenever possible), I wanted to create an entire exhibition with blindness in mind.

In February 2020, I had a solo exhibition entitled "Vision Dissemination" at the Cedar Ridge Creative Centre in Toronto. 

I am an avid supporter of game-changing technology for accessibility, so I commissioned an Android App called ARTcessible, which enabled viewers to listen to audio descriptions of each painting. I also made tactile replicas of my work that were available for touch. This proved to be especially successful while listening to the audio descriptions. 

Additionally, all artwork tags were available in large print and braille. CNIB was extremely helpful while I prepared for this show - they even brailled all the audio descriptions for people who are Deafblind. I can't thank them enough!

Both my work itself and the exhibition were so well received that I now plan to expand upon the accessibility features in ARTcessible and make gallery spaces even more accessible for blind patrons by using tactile floor guides. 

Ultimately, my goal is to give all patrons the same gallery experience – regardless of their vision. Everyone deserves the opportunity to visit a gallery and independently experience art.