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How to adapt a diamond dot painting experience for someone with a disability

We recently had the pleasure of hosting an art session with a group of people who were really into their diamond dot paintings. One lady in particular had severe dexterity limitations due to her arthritis, low vision and a cognitive impairment. She really wanted to have a go, so we assessed her abilities and adapted all the art tools required to have a successful and inclusive art session for her. We wanted her to feel part of the group and to be able to participate in the activity with ease. This is how we did it...

The diamond dot stick

The first thing we assessed was the diamond dot stick (I don't know the actual term, so let's go with this). The stick itself was really thin, and even with the grip provided, it was not thin enough. So we went down to the local disability shop and found these amazing grips. As you can see in the picture below, they strap around the item, and then you simply slide your hand through the grip. This means that you can hold the stick without actually using your hand muiscles to close around it.

Here is the link to the brand that I use in my business.

The Image Usually in classic diamond dot paintings, we see a lot of colour transitions and intricate colour shading, Which does not help someone with low vision. So I created a vector style image with a limited colour pallet and no shading. I also added broad lines so that the client could easily see where one coloured section started and ended. I made sure this barrier line was a completely different colour and easy to see. I also made sure that each section was large and painted with a flat colour. This meant that when the client was applying the diamonds, it didn't matter if she didn't cover the whole area, she still had a 'finished product' that was visually appealing.

Please also note, that the paint was applied to the page smoothly. Make sure to avoid lumps to encourage good adhesion with the diamonds.

The Diamonds To be honest, I was not sure how this part of the activity was goint to pan out and what was going to work best for this client. I made sure to have a collection of choices that she could try out and choose. This is important, because I wanted to make sure she felt empowered during the experience, and, providing this choice, allowed for that experience to take place.

The range provided were Sticker Sheets These come in a pack and you can cute them into any desired shape. This meant that the client's support person could cut the sticker sheet up and hand it to her client to stick down.

Super Large Diamonds These cam in all sort of sizes. I preferred the ones that had lots of angles and surface at the top of the diamond. It just meant that the diamond stick could pick them up easier. We observed that the larger diamond with a broad flat surface did not pick up easily with the diamond stick. We also used a spray glue instead of double sided sticky tape. We found that the double sided sticky tape was finicky and difficult to place whereas the spray glue applied easily and didn't leave marks at the end.

Individual large diamonds with adhesive already applied These worked the best! Her support worked did need to help with placing the diamonds in her hand, however we found that because they were large in size, our client could hold them in her hand and place them on the page. Our client reported that she enjoyed these the most!

Work Surface Our client was sitting in a wheel chair, which makes it a little difficult to sit up close to the table. So I went down to the local craft shop and purchase a portable work table that sits across the lap. To make sure that it fit across her lap AND fit within the parameter of the wheelchair, I purchased the kids size, which is slightly smaller than the adult sized ones. It fit perfectly! These trays are great because they also have sections on the side that you can hold things in. So we can bring her art tools really within arms reach for her.

I hope this helps with your journey into modifying art lessons for people with disabilities!

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