How the Blind Draw

I first met Betty, a blind teenager in Toronto, as I was interviewing participants for an upcoming study of mine on touch perception in 1973. Betty had lost her sight at age two, when she was too young to have learned how to draw. So I was astonished when she told me that she liked to draw profiles of her family members. Before I began working with the blind, I had always thought of pictures as copies of the visible world. After all, we do not draw sounds, tastes or smells; we draw what we see. Thus, I had assumed that blind people would have little interest or talent in creating images. But as Betty’s comments revealed that day, I was very wrong. Relying on her imagination and sense of touch, Betty enjoyed tracing out the distinctive shape of an individual’s face on paper…

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