PHOTOSENSE: Touch Sight

Photography for the blind has two major areas of interest. The first, and our primary focus thus far is the blind artists who utilize their other heightened senses in order to create work. The second, and more universal branch of this is the accessibility of photography to the normal visually impaired who are not World class photographers. We are not talking about the creation of art, we are talking about the use of photography for the normal user for memory. The documentation of personal family life is the dominant purpose for photography within the general population. Thus far this ability is limited to the visually impaired.

A camera for the visually impaired. The design comes straight from Samsung China, and  the ‘Touch Sight’ camera brings the opportunity for the visually impaired to enjoy and share the benefits of photography like every one else. There are two unique features that set this apart from all the rest; incorporation of touch and sound. As a photograph is taken, the devise is designed to record a three second sound bite, either to record a short description of the image from the user or as a clip of the surroundings. As an image is viewed, the sound bite will be played back in order for the user to differentiate between shots. The second, and most intriguing of these features is the incorporation of touch. As opposed to the conventional digital camera, the back of the camera has a 3d braille screen, not a basic LED viewing screen. As the photographs are viewed, a 3D impression of the image is presented on the back allowing the user to ‘feel’ the photograph. The combination of these two features will allow the user to create a mental image of the picture.

Upon testing the camera with the visually impaired, it was found that holding the camera to the forehead was the most productive way to create a successful image; the ‘third eye’, as it is called. They found that “holding the camera to the forehead, like a third eye, is the best way for them to stabilize and aim the camera. The instructor also found the visually impaired have no problems estimating distances, since their sense of hearing is especially sharp. Every rustle of wind in the trees catches their attention and can be used to judge distances. Other senses come into play as well. The heat of the sun or a lamp in a living room, for example, signals a direct source of light. They regularly use their non-visual senses to feel the world and manifest it into a mental photograph.”

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