Steven M. Handschu

Stephen Handschu in a black hat and jacket
Stephen M. Handschu

Stephen Handschu is a sculptor, advocate, and teacher, Blind since birth, the refrain he remembers hearing the most when growing up is; “Stephen, the only thing you can’t do is see much, so get in here and finish your Chores, home work etc..”
He was born in New York City in 1947 and educated, he often says “miss educated”, in many different school settings, including, Public and Private schools with no “Special Education or VI (visually impaired) Services”, Mainstreamed public school placement with “sight conservation resource room” support, and one year of “Fine Arts” College. “In all these different schools,” Handschu says, “I was denied Braille and instruction with a long white cane. I was sent down the “low vision” (Magnification and recorded books) path. By the time I got to college, I was the best read functional illiterate you ever saw. I was no more ready for college then it was for me. Unable to keep up in college, using only print, I sought and received instruction directly from several Working artists who took me and my work seriously.
Handschu began carving sculpture when 7 or 8 years old. He says, “I thought it was magic, and I still do. But the magic doesn’t happen without a lot of work.” He opened his first Sculpture studio during 1965 in NYC. In 1970 he moved to Detroit, where he first set up shop in a friend’s garage and later restored a disused fire station where he lived and worked until 1997 when he moved to Chicago. He moved to Tampa FL. In 2010. In 2016 he returned to Detroit, where he lives today. His sculpture is well regarded by his peers and has been shown in many prestigious venues throughout the United States and Canada.
Steve cut his teeth as an advocate, in 1964, when he joined The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), beginning his lifelong interest in voting rights. He has been a social activist ever since, in a wide variety of causes and organizations. He discovered The National Federation OF The Blind (NFB) in 1973. “NFB changed everything for me. For the first time, blind people who I wanted to be like. Blind people who were walking, reading, and doing better than I was and they were doing better because they were using the skills of blindness. With the help of many blind people, I started teaching myself Braille and Travel with the white cane.” Steve started advocating for other blind people, to help them get the skills that he had been denied, for so long.
He also started teaching these skills to other blind people, adults and children. When Steve learns something he starts teaching it. He has taught sculpture throughout his working life, in a school for disturbed teenagers, in many Workshops in schools, colleges, and homeless shelters. At the age of 70 he became a certified “1touch coach” and is now teaching the 1touch (self-defense system for blind people).
In-between sculpture sales, Steve has held many kinds of work, including furniture maker, moving man and consultant.
When asked what he is proudest of Steve answered; “I am proud of my work with CORE and the Maryland Freedom Union, Teaching blind kids in the NFB Saturday School, Working with the MI. Legislature to create the Michigan Commission For The Blind and serving on the Commission Board of Directors, Working with the Chicago board of elections to create accessibility for disabled voters, and my Sculpture.