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Greater accessibility to visual resources for blind and disabled art lovers

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Getty Images, a world leader in visual communications, and the National Federation of the Blind, America’s civil rights and membership organization of the blind, have partnered with Tactile Images to deliver more than 45 million images to the world’s blind and disabled population at museums, science centers, libraries, schools, and government agencies. This partnership will significantly enhance educational opportunities and cultural inclusion for blind and disabled individuals.

As part of this initiative, more than 50,000 members of the blind community shared what photography and art they wanted to experience first. The National Federation of the Blind reinforced this by announcing that they will be granting $500,000 to museums and institutions for the development of tactile exhibition displays.

“Blind people have all the same interests, concerns, and aspirations as all who participate in our society and culture, and that culture is reflected in the millions of images that this partnership will help us access,” said Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “We look forward to working with Tactile Images and Getty Images to curate a collection that will include, inform, and inspire the blind of America and the world.”

Getty Images, the National Federation of the Blind, and Tactile Images are committed to participating in initiatives that provide greater accessibility to visual resources, with an emphasis on photography and fine art, that represent the world’s people and cultures, including the blind and those with disabilities. This commitment involves helping people fully understand and experience the society within which they live, providing unique educational perspectives and increasing access to content that may have previously been inaccessible. This partnership reinforces a collective commitment to improving accessibility for and inclusion of people from all backgrounds, including those who are blind.

“In a world where communication is largely visual, Getty Images is thrilled to partner with the National Federation of the Blind and Tactile Images to allow the blind community to more fully engage with and experience our pictures,” said Peter Orlowsky, Head of Strategic Development at Getty Images.

Tactile Images has several product offerings, all of which allow a blind individual to experience and engage with traditionally visual and graphic material through touch and sensory stimulation. Each is a unique, one-of-a-kind work of art. To further assist in creating a more interactive experience, braille is utilized for text, and sensors are embedded so that when touched, a customized audio description and narrative is activated. Components that emit unique smells can also be used. These three senses – touch, hearing, and smell – work together in the brain to replace the sense of sight. The blind or low-vision user creates a mental picture from this confluence of sensory stimulation. Touching a tactile print while listening to a coordinated audio presentation creates an enhanced kinesthetic learning experience.

“At Tactile Images, we are very excited that Getty Images and the National Federation of the Blind have decided to partner with us. This partnership will help to bring tactile imagery to the blind and disabled on a global scale,” says John Olson, Co-Founder of 3DPhotoWorks, the parent company of Tactile Images. “I’ve always believed that truly ‘seeing’ an image involves much more than just the sense of sight. As the notable American neuroscientist, Dr. Paul Bach-y-Rita, once stated, ‘We don’t see with our eyes or hear with our ears; these are just the receptors, seeing and hearing in fact, goes on in the brain.’ We look forward to partnering with museums, science centers, libraries, and government agencies to make their existing content more accessible while also creating new and innovative installations and exhibitions.”

Tactile Images will also develop several traveling exhibitions in collaboration with Getty Images and the National Federation of the Blind. These exhibitions travel to museums, educational centers, and institutions throughout the world. They include a diverse array of engaging topics and narratives, increase community-based partnerships, and maximize an institution’s space, attendance, and participation. Furthermore, they promote inclusion, critical skills acquisition, independence, and self-confidence.

For more information, visit www.tactileimages.com.

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Cultural Sector in Estonia gets 42m Euros aid

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The film sector will receive 5.3 million Euros, of which 3.3 million Euros is earmarked for cinemas and film distributors | Photo: Matheus Bertelli

The Estonian government has announced a supplementary budget, with 42 million Euros set to be allocated towards culture.

Earlier in March, the cultural sector submitted a proposal to the government on a crisis exit strategy, which was signed by 335 organisations from the cultural and creative industry. Representatives from music, arts, performing arts, museums, folk culture, literature, film and cinema emphasised in their joint proposal that culture has a significant impact on both the economy as well as the population’s mental health. The proposal included both short-term and long-term initiatives and an outline of the needed crisis package, which would help culture survive in the current situation and recover afterwards.

Half of the 42 million Euros supplementary aid package will go to cultural events organisers, including funds allocated to support cultural events organisers, the music sector, several museums and performing arts establishments.

The film sector will receive 5.3 million Euros, of which 3.3 million Euros is earmarked for cinemas and film distributors. The remaining 2 million Euros goes to film productions.

A separate fund of 6 million Euros, aimed at providing security for international cultural and sports events, is also part of the supplementary aid budget for the cultural sector.

Meanwhile, Estonia and several other countries across Europe remain in lockdown with cinemas as well as other cultural institutions closed at least until mid-April 2021.

Photo: Matheus Bertelli

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World Record Parachute Jump to Benefit Climate Refugees

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sportsman Tomasz Kozlowski
In 2017 Tomasz Kozlowski jumped 48 times in one day, raising funds for Polish sufferers of serious illness

Jump for the Planet, a record-breaking event will see Polish daredevil Tomasz Kozlowski attempt to break the current world record for the highest parachute jump previously held by Felix Baumgartner and Alan Eustace.

Seven years after it was last attempted, the psychologist and mountain rescue expert plans to break the record by freefalling from the stratosphere at a record height of 45km (148,000 feet), as part of the Jump for the Planet crusade raising funds and awareness for climate refugees.

According to Oxfam, natural disasters caused by climate change force people to abandon their homes at three times the rate of armed conflicts. The number of “climate refugees” is estimated at a quarter of a billion in the last decade.

The 2022 jump will be live-streamed globally from cameras on Kozlowski’s suit as he attempts to become the fastest non-powered man in history, exceeding terminal velocity and the speed of sound to reach over 1500 km/h (930 mph).

Jump for the Planet includes a series of charity activities raising funds to finance modular buildings that can be readily transported to places affected by cataclysms and assembled into homes, schools, dormitories and more. Eighty percent of each modular home is built from recycling abandoned sea containers and plastic waste and powered exclusively by renewable energy.

Jump for the Planet is supported by the Pho3nix Foundation, a non-profit organisation focussed on promoting physical activity as a way to improve children’s health and inspire them to follow their dreams.

Kozlowski is no stranger to breaking records. In 2014, he recorded the highest parachute jump in Europe (10,735 meters). After the resulting publicity, he realized he could go for more than just records.

“I decided that if I jump again, if I do something difficult and extreme, I will use it to support people,” he says.

In 2017, he jumped 48 times in one day, raising funds for Polish sufferers of serious illness. In 2018, Kozlowski successfully jumped 100 times in one day, raising enough to purchase over 100 specialized wheelchairs for children in need.

Kozlowski’s latest charity was borne out of fears for his children’s future. “In 20-30 years, the climate will be completely changed. We don’t know what we’re doing to our planet.”

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Swarovski Foundation launches sustainability grant for young creatives

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Selected grantees will receive financial support to further their practice in arts and fashion

The Swarovski Foundation has announced the launch of Swarovski Foundation Institute: Creatives for Our Future, a new global grant program designed with advisor the United Nations Office for Partnerships to identify and accelerate the next generation of creative leaders in sustainability.

SFI: Creatives for Our Future has a four-week open call to all creatives worldwide aged 18 to 25 from disciplines including fashion, design, art, architecture, science, technology and engineering – with no limit to creative medium. Successful applicants will have a keen interest in, demonstration of, or exemplary potential to use the creative process to accelerate awareness, technologies or solutions for sustainable development. The Swarovski Foundation aims to draw in a diverse pool of applicants from across the globe and bring new voices and perspectives to the creative process.

Selected grantees will receive financial support to further their practice. The funding is paired with an educational program in collaboration with top international institutions, tailored mentorship and industry networking connections with guidance from the Swarovski Foundation. Grantees will be provided support to develop the innovations and practices outlined in their applications and drive progress toward the Decade of Action to Deliver the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The grantees will be invited to present in September 2021 around the high-level segment of the UN General Assembly.

Application and program details can be found on www.sfcreatives.org. Worldwide applications will be accepted from March 9th to April 9th, 2021. Successful grantees will be announced on April 21st to coincide with UN World Creativity and Innovation Day.

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