Independent study of tactile graphics
DAN PATZELT: If almost 2000 years ago, Aristotle said that the deaf were more clumsy than the blind, and he justified that statement by the fact that the person who does not hear, does not have access to concept. Today I can make this comparison. The blind are more clumsy than the people who see. And that's because the blind do not have easy access to spacial concepts; shapes, proportion. I mean, we speak the same language but we don't talk about the same things. 200 years ago, Braille made text information accessible and it was a revolution in the education of the blind. It broke the storyteller dependence that natural person who has to audio describe any visual information. It's just that the spatial information acquisition has remained the same. The physical dependence on another person, the over the shoulder person who guides the blind's man hand on a tactile graph, or a 3D object. Only by simultaneous tactile exploration without a description, can a blind man create a new object's coherent representation. And what we do about that? Do we stay in the same stage? Do we stay dependent on another person? Do we stay like 200 or 2000 years ago? Do we let blind person stuck with skills that are uneducated and unused? And here I mean the increased attention and memory that visual impaired have. The answer is no. If technology it's a two-edge knife, let's use the good edge and make a mobile app that acts like a teacher, specialist, over the shoulder companion that a blind person needs. Independent study of texts can be easily obtained now with OCR, Optical Character Recognition, voice reader and personal Braille printers. And the beauty is that now, with modern technology, the positioning of the hand on a tactile graphic can be traced and simultaneously delivered in audio description. Any physical objects can be self-describing using interactive augmented reality. Now, 200 years after Braille, the company I represent, Tactile Images, has one solution for individual study of embossed graphics. That's tactileimages.org. You can create graphics, maps or any objects with an additional audio information layer. I invite you to be aware of the evolution of technology and its impact in increasing the learning speed broadening the curricula and increasing the quality of life of visually impaired people. I, Dan Patzelt, think that we are on an edge of a new educational revolution and in the near future, we and the blind will not only speak the same language but talk about the same things.