03/09/2015 08:15 EDT | Updated 05/09/2015 05:59 EDT

Touching sculptures at Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Alan Dean is a retired Royal Air Force pilot who lost his sight after a stroke almost 20 years ago

Dean is NLP: that means he has no light perception. He wears a protective pair of sunglasses with an extra edge on them to protect his eyes from dust particles.

As a younger man he visited the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts regularly.

But since losing his sight, he hadn't been back. 

“What’s the use," says Dean. "I won’t see anything.”

So imagine his pleasure when he was invited to take part in a program at the museum for the visually impaired? 

It’s a special guided tour of sculptures in the collection that visitors on the tour are allowed to touch, provided of course they are wearing protective white cotton gloves.

"To be honest with you I didn't expect truthfully that I would gain too much. Now I am overjoyed. I really am. All of a sudden now this part of my life has been reopened," said Dean after the tour with guide Patrick Fitzgerald. 

Dean is President of the West Island Branch of the Montreal Association of the Blind.

He plans to encourage the members of his association to try visiting the museum again. 

The guided tours for visually impaired have been part of the MMFA’s outreach program for several years.  

Now the museum is opening up the tours to sighted visitors who wish to experience touching sculptures.

The tours take place on the third Tuesday of every month.