Opportunities for teens who are blind/low vision rarely have the same choices to enjoy and experience the cultural richness in Massachusetts as those who are full sighted. Why should those with sight have access to anything they choose to do while those without full vision don’t have those same choices?
The Polus Center for Social and Economic Development has created Access to the Arts, an innovative multifaceted program that provides opportunities for blind and low vision youth, teens and adults to have access to and enjoy the richness of cultural events. Access to the Arts is an innovative and exciting program of opportunities for participants to explore, feel, think, grow, learn new skills, increase self-confidence and enhance their lives as they move into adulthood.
In April, 2022 we will launch a 6-week “Theater Camp” training program on Saturday mornings for youth age 11-13. This training—offered by seasoned professionals from the Huntington Theater who have worked with and designed this program for youth who are blind and visually impaired—will provide students with the opportunity to build confidence and communication skills. They will learn about theater as a recreational activity, which may lead them to eventually become active in theater productions or at least develop an interest in attending theater performances. The camp includes theater games, improvisation, learning about all the jobs that go into a theater production, and mask-making. They will have opportunities to act out scenes, and to learn about audio-described stage productions and how to access them. In addition to teaching communication and drama skills, the experience provides them with an engaging, fun opportunity to interact with other students who are blind/visually impaired.
For more information about Theater Camp, contact Judy Berk, jberk [at] culturalaccess.org.
Music Arts Program
In collaboration with Berklee College of Music, this program will provide opportunity for Blind/low vision teens to be exposed to different facets of music, most recent technologies, and exposure to various opportunities in the field of music. Participants will spend time in Berklee Assistive Technology for Music. Working with Berklee College of Music faculty, participants will be exposed to voice, drums, guitar, bass and keyboard. Bob Mulvey retired Associate Professor of Music will coordinate the program. He will facilitate a trip to Perkins School for the Blind to learn about their radio station and talk about opportunities in radio broadcasting. There will be opportunities to enjoy performances at the Berklee Performance Center.
We hope to offer this program in early summer 2022.
Hands On Arts
Part of our Envision Success Project curriculum is to provide opportunities for participants to experience all facets of arts and crafts. There will be opportunities to take classes in either: mosaics, weaving, clay, woodcarving, knitting, jewelry making and other arts & crafts opportunities.
Audio Description Training for Parents, Partners and Families
Families enjoy going places together. Those who are sighted have the opportunity to see and enjoy their surroundings while those who are blind or low vision do not have that same experience.
This training, led by the leading audio describer in Massachusetts, will:
- identify the components of audio description in order to develop a descriptive language and vocabulary
- develop the skills needed to describe in a concise and objective manner
- gain experience and confidence using description with family members and friends
- learn descriptive techniques.
By the end of this training everyone will be able to use description as a vehicle for enhancing experiences for family members and friends, practice describing a variety of visual experiences (artwork, landscapes, scenery etc.) using video clips, photographs and objects, and have opportunities, through a series of written and verbal exercises to practice description, develop vocabulary, share descriptions and receive feedback.
Polus Center organizes opportunities for adults who are blind to get together at community arts activities such as music, theater, or museums. This includes the opportunity to socialize and dine together at a local restaurant. These activities help build confidence and skills in mobility, independence, and risk-taking, while helping to combat isolation. For people who have just recently lost their vision, these social dining events provide the opportunity to master the ability to order from menus and navigate restaurant dining. We seek to promote networking and sharing of independent living strategies and the development of friendships and peer support.
Upcoming audio-described performances that we will be hosting include To Kill a Mockingbird on April 10 and the play 1776 on June 18, both in the Boston area. These events are free for people registered with MCB's Social Rehabilitation program, funded by an Adjustment to Blindness grant. For more information or to register, contact Judy Berk, jberk [at] culturalaccess.org.