Feeney, D. (2014). Editorial, British Journal of Visual Impairment 32 (1)Special Issue: Visual Impairment, Aesthetics & Access to the Arts, pp. 3-6.

Feeney, David (2014) Feeney, D. (2014). Editorial, British Journal of Visual Impairment 32 (1)Special Issue: Visual Impairment, Aesthetics & Access to the Arts, pp. 3-6. British Journal of Visual Impairment, 32 (1). pp. 3-6. ISSN 0264-6196

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Abstract

In Plato’s Meno, Socrates poses the following predicament to an engrossed listener: Imagine that
we want to travel from Athens to Larissa, but do not know the way. Should we trust a blind man to
tell us the way to Larissa? Legacies of the association of reliable knowledge with sight, implicit in
Socrates’ framing of his conundrum, still abound. While misgivings about attributing epistemic or
aesthetic credibility to the opinions volunteered by individuals with visual impairment persist, the
inequity of the rationale informing them is clearly manifest within gallery environments, for example,
where these individuals are expected to take on faith the descriptions, instructions, and values
presented to them by fully sighted individuals in the name of access. The bias informing these
assumptions is exemplified by educational theorist R.T. Allen’s (1987) citing of the case of blindness
as a means of justifying his argument that ‘those who lack normal capacities’ embody the truth
of the maxim that ‘no one possesses any original authority as a source of truth but only this relative
authority in knowing . . . more than someone else.’ When his subsequent observation – that ‘what
the authoritative person states is itself others’ evidence or reason for belief’ – is considered in relation
to Socrates’ question, the intransigence of this prejudice over a period that spans the 5th century
BC and the late 20th century becomes clear (Allen, 1987). There are signs, however, that
progress has subsequently been made in this regard. The articles collected in this Special Issue of
British Journal of Visual Impairment (BJVI) are highly suggestive that hopes that such change is
currently afoot are well founded.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Visual impairment, blindness, art, access, aesthetics.
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Education > Disability and Education
Depositing User: David Feeney
Date Deposited: 21 Mar 2019 16:01
Last Modified: 21 Mar 2019 16:01
URI: https://hira.hope.ac.uk/id/eprint/2737

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