‘Strolling the Biltmore,’ a painting by visually impaired artist Jeff Hanson
© Jeff Hanson Ar
A visionary artist paints his own garden view
On Global Accessibility Awareness Day today, consider this uncommon painting. If you're seeing brightly colored flowers against a multihued backdrop, you're experiencing something the painter of today's Bing homepage image hasn't fully seen since he was a young boy, before a brain tumor damaged his optic nerve. Today, Jeff Hanson is a successful artist who only vaguely sees shapes and colors. Although legally blind, he's developed a unique tactile process that helps him feel his compositions by first plastering the canvas with a thick plastic goop. Once that hardens, he uses the plastic ridges to navigate a piece, lending the composition form so he can add his signature vibrant color. He playfully calls each painting 'a sight for sore eyes' and sells his art to appreciators like Warren Buffett, Elton John, and other collectors. Yet, one of the most creative aspects of Hanson's life is the way he's had to develop assistive methods to paint.
The methods Hanson uses are not unlike the wheelchairs, head pointers, closed captions, voice trackers, and a growing number of assistive technologies that empower other people with disabilities. On Global Accessibility Awareness Day, we're featuring Hanson's painting to observe the ongoing work to make technology accessible for more people around the world. (One way to appreciate this need is to take our quiz without the use of your mouse.)