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Visual Information IV: Perspective Chapter 4.3.2.

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1 Visual Information IV: Perspective Chapter 4.3.2

2 Overview It is particularly difficult for a DB person to gain and maintain a spatial sense of orientation. There are techniques an SSP can use to describe a space that will be helpful and give the DB person a better sense of being grounded in a particular space. This presentation introduces some of these techniques.

3 Techniques Techniques include: – Framing, using scale – Using specific quantifiers (numbers) rather than qualitative labels or descriptors (e.g. ‘big’) – Using common schema or frames such as a grid pattern or “S-curve”

4 Framing: Maps & Scale

5 Location and Spatial Relations In earlier presentations we have shown how to make ‘tactile maps’ using the palm of the DB person. Vision is more efficient than the other senses for identifying spatial relations. This is undoubtedly one reason ASL and other Sign Languages are so efficient at doing so. Without good vision, however, phrases such as “over there” are not meaningful.

6 Tactile Maps and Spatial Relations One answer is tactile maps. They are very efficient in showing how objects or people are situated vis-à-vis the floor plan of a room. The DB person then knows their relative positions. Tactile maps are less efficient, however, in showing large areas simply because the size of the hand is limited. There is a solution.

7 Scale: A Relationship All maps use a scale. In an earlier presentation you saw the hand used to represent a room, while at another time it represented the space of a laptop. A map of Texas and a map of Rhode Island may be on the same size paper, but of course the scale will be different.



10 Massachusetts

11 Whole - Part Map makers also use inserts, or a differently scaled map of a city inserted into a state map. The map will indicate where in the state this city is located. In Tactile ASL we do the same. First, the hand represents the state where we place the major cities.

12 Changing Scale

13 When the focus is on one city, the city is identified and the hand then becomes the city- plan in which major neighborhoods are located and so on. You can do the same with a tactile map, starting with the building and then moving to a particular room, etc.

14 Establish the relationship.

15 Identify the Spaces and their Relationships The maps are labeled. The relationship is identified. So too, your tactile maps should be ‘labeled’ and if you shift frames, the relationship should be identified. What is it that you are describing?

16 Classifier as Map This is true for Classifiers too. The hand in a fist remains only one size but it can represent a head, or an eyeball. The important thing is to make clear what it is representing, i.e. establish a frame of reference.


18 Tactile Classifiers Remember to use the DB person’s fist (not your own) as the map/referent.

19 Direction from Here

20 Space and Distance As an SSP you might want to show where the coat rack is in relation to the door you entered. You can do this using the tactile map technique, but it might be good to include how far apart they are. Number of feet, or approximate number of steps to get there would be effective ways to identify the distance. For bigger distances, time is another measure: how long does it take to get there.

21 “Over There” For sighted people we commonly point “over there” or “in that direction”. For a blind person, however, this would not make sense. The minute the blind person shifts to the left/right or turns slightly, the frame is lost. This is why a tactile map is so useful. It holds the frame constant.

22 Distance Another challenge in describing space for a person who is blind is indicating distance as well as direction (“how far,” “over there?”). Establishing a frame will make distance relative. New York is “over there” but so is Germany. The direction may be the same, but the distance is not. Once a frame (map and scale) are established, the relative distance also becomes clear.

23 Pointing vs. … A DB person may ask where something is. To respond by pointing is not very helpful. It is better to respond with more specifics such as “about 10 feet...” and then point, or “on the desk…” and then point. If it is a person / car etc. approaching, you may indicate the direction and then use the correct classifier, indicating both the approach and the relative speed and distance.

24 Spatial Design & Feeling Grounded

25 Design & Architecture Study the way buildings are laid out, or the way your city is laid out, and look at different room arrangements. You will notice patterns. Practice describing these patterns tactually with your colleagues and see which strategies work best. Grid patterns are common, but other angled or curved patterns are becoming more common.


27 Curves and Angles Curves can be semi-circles or “S-curves”. They can be tight or loose curves. Similarly angles can be sharp or open angles. Advanced study for SSPs includes an awareness of common patterns and changes in them as styles and tastes change. This is part of the change a DB person might miss if the SSP does not convey it.


29 Feeling Grounded Giving these descriptions will help a DB person feel more grounded and therefore, more in control of their environment and thus, more confident. This takes skill on the part of the SSP and a habit of thinking of both ‘the big picture’ and of details; thinking of the layout of a space and what gives it character.

30 Plane

31 Plane or Level The palm of your hand makes a good indicator of plane or level. The simple version of this is an indication of a ramp. If the path curves up and to the left, you can indicate the shape and direction of the curve and the rate of incline, all with your hand- palm-down.

32 Two-Hands You can use two hands to indicate two staggered levels such as a mezzanine. You can use two hands to indicate a change in level such as a beach where the ground slants slowly away and downward. The non- dominant hand remains stable as a reference point.

33 Specific Quantifiers

34 Size Use specific quantifiers for the size of objects, groups and so on, as well as a space. If there were “many” people at the party, was this 20 or 100? If the crab is really “big” is this 8” across or 16”? For size you can use numbers (as above) or comparisons “as big as a house”.

35 Size and Context The principle is the same: the importance of a frame of reference (context). If you, the SSP and the DB person are both familiar with the context (e.g. characteristics of an annual event) then it is less important to specify what is meant by “many people” who attended this year. If, however, there is not shared context, you must establish it.

36 Scale: Quantity If you are talking about a known space you may not have to describe the scale of the area, but if it is unknown (e.g. a new auditorium), this would be a good place to start. Use quantitative measures, not qualitative ones all by themselves. For example a “big” room may be 15 X 20 feet, 100 X 100 feet, or half a city block.

37 Frame as Context Framing is establishing a context, an outline of what you will be describing. ASL is a ‘topic-comment’ language, as are many spoken languages. You establish the topic first, and then describe it (‘top-down’). The importance of establishing context (a frame of reference) cannot be over- emphasized.

38 Frame as Schema Some frames (schema) are familiar or even iconic, such as a grid pattern for streets, or a design for multi-floor staircases that double back on themselves using landings. Other frames are unusual or atypical. These will take more time to identify clearly.

39 Motivation

40 Make sure the reason for the description is clear. Why are you describing the space? It might just be to orient the DB person to the overall space, it might be an interesting or unusual space, or you may be explaining where they can later find their coat. The description should fit the person and the situation.

41 Conclusion Using the techniques of map makers, drafts- people and ASL will help us describe space. Modifying these techniques to fit the tactile modality is more clear. The better at describing space we become, the more grounded and oriented the DB person will be.

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