by Liz Austin

NVIDIA is using its passion for visual computing to help a dedicated group of volunteers  and teachers in Korea enhance the artistic experience for the visually impaired.

Launched in partnership with the Korean Art Association for the Blind (KAAB) in 2010, the NVIDIA Touch Visual program trains college art majors as volunteers to work with visually impaired students on art projects.  These sighted “supporters” bring their passion for art to help the students, many of whom have partial sight, express themselves through art, including sculpture, fabric, drawing, painting and photography.

NVIDIA Korea employees show their support

“Touch Visual supporters have been deeply moved and inspired by this program, and the impact on the visually impaired students has been tremendous,” says Sunny Lee, NVIDIA Korea’s marketing manager and leader of the Touch Visual program. Many of these supporters continue to work alongside a group of 20 NVIDIA Korea employees, attending weekly classes and working side by side with the students and teachers.

In 1997, KAAB began coordinating art workshops and classes for the visually impaired. They struggled through the years to recruit enough volunteers to meet their needs until NVIDIA Touch Visual supporters came on board to lend a hand. Since then, KAAB has struggled with a different problem: receiving more supporter applicants than available volunteer opportunities.

Today, Touch Visual supporters donate their time and skills to assist KAAB instructors at four schools in the Seoul metropolitan area. In the past three years, 45 supporters have made a difference in the lives of more than 1,200 students. Touch Visual has been so successful that supporters usually stay on to mentor incoming volunteers and continue to stay involved with the program.

“We are a visual computing company, and we wanted to provide a unique type of immersive experience for visually impaired students through art education,” adds Sunny. “There are many companies that take part in community service, but this kind of activity fits perfectly with what NVIDIA is all about.”