c.1913-1926: “Seeing through Touch”

“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.’

- Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums


Thank you to John Coburn

Submitted by: John Coburn

About The Author

Avatar of Emily
Assistant Curator

Originally trained as a Commercial Photographer, I graduated from Newcastle in 2013 with a BA in Digital Creative Practice. Following this I worked for the National Archives across Archives in the North East of England, specialising in digitisation and online engagement in Heritage. My work focuses primarily of the social impact of historical photography, but also the potential in creative and digital reuse of photographic collections. I am now continuing this work at Museums & Archives Northumberland, working alongside Retronaut and sourcing content to increase public engagement with our photographic collections. This work is funded through the support of the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund, run by the Museums Association.

3 Responses

  1. ArteConTacto

    Incredible! I was not aware that these techniques have been used (and documented) so early on for making art accessible for everybody. Great finding!

    All the best, Moritz

    Dr. Moritz Neumüller


  2. Jinx

    How wonderful! We were fortunate enough to benefit from this sort of thing while visiting the British Museum. A curator had a piece of cuneiform and some old coins that we could handle. Holding the cuneiform was neat, holding something that a person made several thousand years ago really made it personal.


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