[Art_beyond_sight_educators] maps 18390, archaeologist, photography

fnugg at online.no fnugg at online.no
Fri Oct 5 11:56:53 UTC 2012

Tactile maps from an 1830s atlas for the blind

Braille wasn't widely in use in the 1830s, but Samuel Gridley Howe, 
founder and president of the New England Institute for the Education of 
the Blind, wanted to develop an atlas that his students could read 
unaided by a seeing person. To that end, he created a specially embossed 
atlas that could be read by touch.

With the aid of John C. Cray and Samuel P. Ruggles, Howe developed the 
map using new embossing methods that he believed would be superior to 
earlier relief maps. Fifty copies of the atlas, perhaps the first of its 
kind, were printed, each containing 24 state maps plus explanatory text 
in raised (but non-Braille) letters.

Ancient image of childbirth discovered by blind archaeologist

This Etruscan ceramic fragment is over 2,600 years old, and it's quite 
possibly the oldest depiction of childbirth ever found in Europe. It's a 
marvelous sight to behold, but the person who actually discovered it 
hasn't even seen it.

The fragment is an artifact of the Etruscan civilization, which 
dominated Italy before the rise of the Romans. The image, which is 
surprisingly graphic for a ceramic fragment, is one of the few ancient 
depictions of childbirth that archaeologists have uncovered, and it's 
quite possibly the oldest known depiction in the western world. The 
fragment was discovered by William Nutt, a graduate student at the 
University of Texas, while excavating at the Poggio Colla site northeast 
of Florence.

Nutt explains the significance of the find:

"The image is unique because in the classical world, we don't see a lot 
of birthing scenes. The real question is if we don't see these types of 
birthing scenes anywhere else in classical art, then why is it on this 
pot? It obviously meant something to the people who were there and who 
made it. A number of kingdoms broke down and changed over a short period 
of about 100 years. Looking at the culture change helps us to learn a 
lot about how societies adapt to stress, what being a part of a society 
means and it helps us to learn about ourselves."

Nutt himself is legally blind, which at first might seem like a fairly 
big challenge to doing archaeological fieldwork. But, as he explains - 
and this finding confirms - vision isn't really required to excavate:

"I used dental tools and a sharpened trowel to slide along the ground. 
I'd run my hands along the soil, feeling and uncovering different 
layers. If I started to notice a soil change, I'd check with another 
excavator. I was really very fortunate to work with a great group of 

Blind Photographers Use Gadgets to Realize Artistic Vision

When a brain tumor caused professional photographer Alex Dejong to lose 
his eyesight three years ago, he turned to gadgets to continue making 
his art.

Carrying around a Nokia N82 cellphone, Dejong used assistive software to 
translate sounds into visuals in his mind. After stitching together a 
mental image of his surroundings, he snapped photos with his Canon and 
Leica digital cameras.

But Dejong’s blindness is acute: He can only perceive light and dark. 
Because Dejong could not see his own photographs, he hired an assistant 
for editing. Until recently, editing was a part of the creative workflow 
that he thought he’d lost forever. And then to his surprise, Apple’s 
iPhone 3GS, which launched late June, gave him back the ability to edit 

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