Most children love crafts, and I was certainly one of them. So many colours and options to always choose from. However, being that I was born blind, being involved in crafty activities felt challenging as a child.
A constant struggle for my younger self use to be the perfection and accuracy sought when it came to the final product. For instance, I have memories of painting over an entire page in prep-school, but being told that it is not proper painting as their should be a picture centering the page. However, a blind child is learning about texture, spatial awareness and movement rather than having the pressure to match what others might be doing such as simply painting a picture from the visual world around them. As a child gets older this would be something to develop slowly once they could feel tactile representations of pictures, but in younger classes this is simply not a big deal.
In addition to the attention given to the accuracy of a final product, the limited amount of interaction with craft equipment was a setback for me as I got older. Although it is natural for any teacher or parent to be worried about a young child using scissors, this worry seemed to multiply when it came to me and my abilities. I was shown what scissors were, but when it came to cutting something out for a craft or to glue into a book, someone completed that task for me. Sadly, this was not only due to the worry of putting scissors in my hand, but again, making sure the shape that needed to be cut was accurate. As I got older I did discover that I could cut along a crease in the paper, but since I was not able to do this much to practice as a kid, I had great trouble cutting straight as well as an unhealthy fear of the scissors. Another option which I sadly didn’t learn about until I was much older, is to simply let a child cut out a random shape as that is what crafting is all about.
Even though arts and crafts are considered to be an area of creativity, I have found it quite disheartening to realize how much focus is given to perfection. If we don’t encourage all children to get messy and create different shapes and sizes, we are essentially dictating what limits not only art has, but that nothing new can emerge.
Yet, along with creativity we should encourage all children to learn practical skills such as using scissors, as they appear in more than just the crafting world. Blind children already struggle with the art space due to the thought that it is a visual one, but if art is truly all about imagination and creativity, then there is most certainly no limits when it comes to adapting projects, it is simply a matter of getting crafty and creative.
by Harjinder Saran (Jinnie)