Canon’s Accessible Exhibit Features Photography You Can Touch

A person touches of a photo of a rhino featuring elevated texture.

This spring, camera maker Canon will hold a unique tactile exhibit to allow visually impaired people to enjoy photography.

The free exhibit, “World Unseen,” will be held at Somerset House in London from Friday, April 5 through Sunday, April 7. It welcomes all visitors, whether they are blind, sighted, or partially sighted, and is held in partnership with the Royal National Institute of Blind People.

“World Unseen” will include images taken by “world-renowned photographers,” according to Canon, including multi-award-winning South African photojournalist Brent Stirton, Brazilian photojournalist SebastiĆ£o Salgado, Nigerian photojournalist Yagazie Emezi, sports photographer Samo Vidic, fashion photographer Heidi Rondak, and Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Muhammed Muheisen. These displays will include inclusive elements like “elevated prints, audio descriptions, soundscapes and braille for a tactile experience that helps visitors connect with these powerful images and the stories they tell,” Canon explains in its press release.

Braille appears over a photo of a rhino.

A closeup of elevated texture mimicking rhino skin with a person's hand.

“There are at least 2.2 billion people globally who have some form of visual impairment, for whom photography remains largely out of reach,” the release notes.

Additionally, the “World Unseen” exhibit offers new perspectives for sighted visitors. There will be images obscured in various ways, showing examples of different types of visual impairment, Canon explains, including glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. There will also be an accompanying video series featuring people who are partially sighted, including disability activist Lucy Edwards and Paralympian Menna Fitzpatrick. This is viewable around the world, as well.

A person's hand touches braille on a photograph.

Raised textured shows the grooves of a rifle.

“While this raises awareness of accessibility in arts and cultural spaces, it also draws attention to how inclusive design heightens the experiences for everyone,” the release from Canon adds.

The camera company also noted this isn’t the first time it’s employed elevated print. “Through its proprietary PRISMAelevate XL software and Arizona printer series, Canon has been making arts more accessible for blind and partially sighted people for many years, supporting art galleries and museums globally with tactile printing and braille signage,” the company says.

Two hands touch a photo featuring elevated texture.

“The World Unseen exhibition opens up the world of photography and enables more blind and partially sighted people to experience the emotive stories, and physical touch, of these iconic images,” Dave Williams, RNIB Inclusive Design Ambassador, explains. “As a braille user, it’s fantastic to be working with Canon to raise awareness of the possibilities of textured print and to see in action how technology can make art more accessible for people with sight loss.”

Image credits: Canon/RNIB