For my upcoming self negotiated project for my final term, I’m (shock horror) stepping away from film and researching an area that has fascinated me for a very long time. I’ve always felt that learning the binary opposite of something will teach you as much about something as learning about it. Also, I want to take the idea of communication design somewhere that might seem quite scary for those who still think of the visual aspect. Visuals take up a lot of my thoughts. Perhaps it’s no surprise being an art student, but I find myself thinking about things such as colour perception, as it’s one world we can’t understand outside of our own heads. I don’t know if my blue is your blue. So for the next few weeks, I’m going to look at graphic design for the blind, for lack of a better description.
In my research so far, I’ve seen some interesting responses and research. Some in my opinion have been amazing, while others, in my opinion, bark up the wrong tree. One of these is the Touch Colour. The Touch Colour claims to give the blind some sensation of colour, it is a graphics tablet that uses heat to signify different shades, you use a colour wheel to pick the colour.
I have a problem with it. If it’s designed for people that have never experienced colour, then I’m not sure why they attach colour to it. The idea of heat sensitive painting is pretty cool, but for me, the addition of colour seems to be for the benefit of the sighted rather than for blind themselves.
On the other hand, the Touch Sight seems like a crazy idea, but I really think it’s onto to something. The Touch Sight is a camera for the blind, that when the user takes a photo, it records a bit of sound and takes a picture. The picture is then translated onto a rectangular braille display, so you can feel the image. I wonder how they display depth, or if it’s outlines or what. Reminds me of those pinpoint impression toys.
The last thing I want to mention is an artist called Neil Harbisson. He isn’t blind, but he only sees the world in a monochrome. He’s also officially a cyborg. To combat his monochromatic vision, he has worked with an engineer and created the “eyeborg” a camera that detects colour, translates it into a sound frequency and feeds it into his ear. Now he can paint with colour, and wears this device so frequently that he insisted on having it on while getting his passport photo taken. Very fascinating, definitely worth looking up.