Seeing Beyond Sight

With its ambitious, seemingly paradoxical premise,
Seeing Beyond Sight: Photographs by Blind Teenagers

challenges our definitions of art, vision, and perception and
what it really means "to see."


by Tony Deifell
w/ foreword by Robert Coles

[hardcover: 152 pages]

The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times Book Review,
COLORS Magazine, Utne Magazine,
and other press

Available at local book stores and
on Amazon here.

Other Reviews

Disaboom's Top 10 Books of 2008
“One of the more moving photography books in print today. . . at once jarringly familiar and unfamiliar, astoundingly complex and heartbreakingly simple."

Tao of Photography
“. . . these images go to the heart of human experience and artistic expression. They show us what lies beyond the light that illuminates what we take pictures of, and what all photographers - with and without the gift of sight - are trying to reveal with their photography”

Book Description

Unusual as the idea may seem at first, putting cameras in the hands of visually impaired children proved to be extremely fruitful — both for the photographers, who found an astonishing new means of self-expression, and for the viewers of their images, for whom this is an entirely new kind of dreamlike and intuitive creation. Even before you know that these pictures were taken by blind teenagers, they are striking in their use of light and composition, and haunting in their chiaroscuro intensity.

Accompanying the images are the students’ own words and captions — in which we see how much the taking of pictures came to mean to them and how the creative process works in ways rarely experienced. This is a volume that speaks with rare inspirational power.

Using the physics of light as a metaphor, the images and stories take you on a journey from dark to light — DISTORTION REFRACTION, REFLECTION, TRANSPARENCE, ILLUMINANCE. While the book renders the lives of blind teenagers with 136 striking black and white photographs, it illuminates stories of danger, fear, trust, race, and beauty found in all of our lives.

Author — Tony Deifell

Tony Deifell is a visual artist and social entrepreneur. He has spent over a decade creating youth-generated media projects, including From the Hip, Youth Voice Radio, and ISM, which was recognized by the White House as a national model of diversity education, using video diaries to address race issues.

He serves as Chief Strategist for KaBOOM!, serves on the board of directors of Active Voice, advises film and television projects, and continues to develop participatory media-making productions such as WDYDWYD? (Why Do You Do What You Do?).

Tony was an artist-in-residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts, taught documentary studies at Duke University, and was a national leadership fellow with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. He taught photography at Governor Morehead School for the Blind from 1992 to 1997.

He lives in San Francisco with his wife Mardie Oakes.

Foreword by Robert Coles

Robert Coles has dedicated much of his career to exploring the moral, political, and spiritual lives of children. He is a child psychiatrist, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, James Agee Professor of Social Ethics at Harvard, and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. More on Wikipedia.

Publisher — Chronicle Books

One of the most admired and respected publishing companies in the U.S., Chronicle Books was founded in 1966 and over the years has developed a reputation for award-winning, innovative books. The company continues to challenge conventional publishing wisdom, setting trends in both subject and format, maintaining a list that includes fine art titles in design, art, architecture, and photography.

Designed by Julia Flagg

Accessibility — has created an accessible version of the book for the visually impaired audience, including descriptions of the photos. Go to this link at for text that can be turned into Braille and synthetic speech.