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Video transcription Dorine in ‘t Veld, Lisanne Aardoom

Developing Tactile Reading Skills in Adults

LISANNE: Welcome to our presentation, developing tactile reading skills in adults. In 2019, we developed a self-study training to learn to read tactile images people can do at home. The cover of the tactile volume is shown on the slides. It consists of 10 lessons, each with two images, and the explanation is available in audio, Braille or printed in large print. In this presentation, we will give you a good impression of the content of the course and the ideas behind it. We are Lisanne Aardoom and Dorine in 't Veld, product managers for tactile images at Dedicon. Dorine for education, and I for leisure. Dedicon is an organization in the Netherlands that produces adapted and accessible reading and learning materials. One of them, tactile images in different techniques. There's much to talk about the subject, but time is limited, so we just focus on the course. As you can read in the next slide, most blind adults over thirty-five in the Netherlands never properly learn to read tactile images. Mostly they only use some tactile images in school for maps or mathematics. And after that, they never use them again since there were none. Besides, many adults had a negative attitude towards tactile images, generally due to bad experience at school, either because of the negative attitude of their teachers or because the images in the past were not well-designed. The next slide summarizes: Description, when using only words leaves very much to guess. We all know these games where a group sits in the line and where the first-person whispers something in the ear of the person next to him or her. This was before Corona, of course, The last person must replicate what the first said, and the outcome mostly is very different and sometimes hilarious. Anyway, blind people for a long time were and often still are implicitly supposed to understand scientific, cultural and arts subjects through a description only, but words alone rarely manage to give a proper understanding, especially when a subject that is described is unknown or new to the reader or listener. This is why we were happy to be able to realize, of course. Dorine developed it. And now we'll tell you what inspired her and how the course is built up.

DORINE: First, I'll say a few words about what and who inspired me. Gerhard Jaworek, a blind amateur astronomer, describes in his book, "Blind zu den Sternen", (Blind to the Stars), the impact of not understanding properly how something works, how it is put together or what it looks like. The slide shows the following quote: "I was over 30 years old when I bought a toy model of the Apollo rocket in a toy shop. For the first time in my life, I understood how the spaceship could connect to the space station. But still, I have not the faintest idea what the space station looked like." This is usually not described in detail, people can see the pictures, and even if it is described, it's not easy to build a correct mental representation. For Gerhard, it was very frustrating to never really get the picture and fully understand. Next slide. Hoelle Corvest, worked for more than 30 years in the Museum of Science and Industry in Paris and a very proficient reader of tactile images, thinks tactile images indispensable for proper understanding and description. The slide shows some of her quotes. "Words, only words..." "It is such a joy to really and profoundly understand a subject. Or to understand the position and proportions of an object and its parts in space." "Models are not indispensable, tactile images are". According to her, once you get a good tactile image with an interesting and vivid explanation, you mostly no longer need models. Of course, there are situations where a model has great added value, but well-designed tactile image mostly will do. Next slide. I learned a lot from both experts I mentioned, both stress, I'll read the slide, tactile images must: be easily available, be well-designed, follow noting that are familiar to blind readers. Next slide. The last two bullets of the previous slide talk about well-designed and notions. Put in other words, in order, in order to understand tactile images, it must be easy to discriminate and identify different lines, structure, structures, thoughts, and shapes in the tactile image. In order to understand the tactile image, those lines, textures, dots and shapes must gain meaning. And in order to gain meaning, the design must respond to underlying notions that are familiar to blind readers. So readers and designers must be educated about those notions. Next slide. "What are notions?" I hear you ask. Well, notions are principles, concepts, insights, whatever you want to call them, that give meaning to the lines, etc. in the drawing. In order to understand 3D images, the blind learn, among other things, must know the principles of orthogonal projection. When I mentioned this to, to a psychologist, she didn't understand. Psychologists have quite different definitions, a notion of projection. Here we mean we project an object like in a photo and the straight angles from above, from the side, and/or from the front. You will see this in a minute while we take you through the course in seven miles boots. Lisanne represents part one. I will present part two.

LISANNE: As you might expect, after the ideas behind the course, lesson one is about tactile discrimination of lines, shapes, textures and dots. The slide shows the two images. On the first page, we find different lines and rectangles with different textures. On the second is an exercise. The reader starts at four squares on the left of the page, one below the other from each rectangle along parts. The reader must follow that line. Some lines intersect. At the end of the lines, there are different shapes. The reader can check if he performed well by checking if the shape has the same texture as the rectangle where he started. In the explanation, the shape is mentioned as an extra check, if you reach the triangle, you're good. This is more difficult than you would think, but almost everyone succeeds and success is a very good stimulus. The next slide shows lesson two, which is about letters, digits and symbols, a reaction of a young blind woman was, "This is great, my sighted daughter is just learning to write, Now I can support her!" Lesson three: the slide show quite a complex diagram. At the same time, it explains the concept of this type of diagram and offers good opportunity to practice discrimination skills, Fun exercises and stories. Guide to reader. Lesson four shows a map, part one. And part one shows the rough outlines of a park with a lake and area with surrounding buildings. The legend is explained in Braille and large red letters. You may have noticed them before, they don't swell. This way the course is usable for both Braille readers and partially sighted readers who don't read Braille but can use large print. Next slide, please. Lesson five shows a map, part two. Now the details are shown, a fantasy audio with points of interest. We got positive reactions such as, "There you go, you should always do this, offering a map and two steps and adding explanations makes it much easier to read a map." Dorine will take over now.

DORINE: The second part of the course, the next five lessons, introduces the notion of orthogonal projection to the reader. This part of the course starts with a basic principle of protection as opposed to a cross section. The slide shows an apple and a pepper as shown from a side, any side, in this case, the stalk is up. How can you tell a projection from a section? Both show the silhouette or circumference. You can find this by cutting the object in two halves at its widest point. Or by pushing it through a hole in the page, that is exactly that shape. But beware, the hole is only an aid to discover that outline. The projection is a flat depiction, like a photo or a movie. We explain in the texts that the projection will have shadow and color, things we cannot show in a tactile image. Note the explanation of tactile images very often describe important visual information that is left out in the tactile image for the sake of readable- readability. The section is also a projection. But this time it shows what it is on the inside. The seeds and how they are embedded. The, next slide, these important notions, what is orthogonal projection, what is a side view, what is a front view, and what is a top view, are further illustrated by a die. The slide shows an image with four quadrants separated by dotted lines. Upper left, we call front view. Lower left, top view. In the quadrant to the right of the front view, the side view is shown. The reader now can build a mental representation. The five dots are directed towards the reader, the six is on top, and the four is on the side. Actually, in this quadrant, the side view from the left is depicted. This method has two big advantages. First, it follows international standards, in this case, European. Second, it respects very much the way the hands would explore an object or a model. There is no distortion of angles or shapes or lengths of lines. By the way, we also give a plan of an unfolding die to help participants solve the exercise to figure out what is the front view when one is on top. Try. Next slide. Of course, it requires understanding how the method works and it requires practice. Besides, it takes practice to get projections in the fingers. They are not always easy to understand. Lesson eight shows the side view of two glasses, the beer glass on the left is relatively easy to recognize. The rectangle on the right, however, is harder to grasp, here a rectangle is the circumference of a cylinder. Of course, you can only know when you know the top view. The next exercise is to combine front and top views, For example, when the top view is a triangle and the front view is a square. And two sides of the triangle and rectangle correspond, then what is the object? It is a triangular block with square sides. It takes a little practice, but once the method is understood, it can open new worlds to blind readers. Next slide. Of course, we will only make a tactile image of an apple or a pepper or a glass to explain tac- to explain tactile images. Everybody knows them and can easily obtain them. They help understanding projections and sections. Lesson seven- nine and ten, sorry, show the practical value. The message allows to describe objects that are too big or too small or too dangerous, or too abstract, too whatever, to touch. With a description, it is possible to build an exact mental representation of specific types of cars or busses as shown in this slide. Indeed, when you are well-trained and with an interesting and vivid description, you do not really need a model. The description only needs to add the look and feel and other interesting pictures and things you want to know. Next slide. Lesson ten even takes the reader through a Dutch canal house. The slide shows the front view with a line decided. That line is the length of an average adult person. The side and top view had to, had to be depicted smaller because behind the narrow facade, a very deep, long house is hidden, consisting of different parts that in the course of time were attached to each other or expended. The line indicating the length of a person next to the side view is shorter than the one next to the front view. Lisanne will now tell you the last few things about how the course was received and about our related work.

LISANNE: This presentation focuses on the why and how and on the content of the course. We are not going into details and numbers, but of course, you are curious to the reactions of participants and testers we consulted during the development. On this slide, we summarize reactions range from still hesitant, like, yes, I can see the value, but it is time consuming and it requires a learning curve, to, brilliant. I wish I had known this before. I should have learned this at school. I want more. So even when hesitant, all participants and testers could see the value of tactile images. Next slide, please. And we have more. For further practicing and profiting from the newly learned skills, we have a plan where readers can subscribe and receive a tactile image with explanation every two months. We chose iconic subjects, our subjects with a height of equal value. So far, we have published emoticons, a cartoon, the Vitruvian Man by Da Vinci, the Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam, the border of Northern Ireland, in relation to the at the time upcoming Brexit, modern and traditional windmills. I hope visually impaired attendants forgive us that we do mention, but not describe the subjects. Next slide, please. We also made thematic tactile volumes with explanation. We now have one explaining what is to be seen on the screen of your computer or mobile phone where items appear, and how they behave. This allows much better communication with sighted computer users, which is important if one works or studies in a sighted environment. Next slide. We had just decided to choose for the Notre Dame as an iconic building when fate struck. We're not quite sure if it's because of the fire and all the attention that went to it or the subject itself. But it was a very popular title. Here we added a small 3D print that corresponds exactly to the image with the top side and front view of the Notre Dame as shown on the slide. Next slide. We also have a volume on birds. Here, we added their songs and we added colors for partially sighted readers. This, too, is a very popular volume. The slide shows the change. The line on the side indicates 10 centimeters. Next slide, please. We have new projects coming. We hope that the tendency towards more inclusion and accessibility that is very much stimulated by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of the United Nations will continue. Final slide. We thank you for watching this video and please feel free to contact us if you have any questions. Our details are on the Congress website and on the slides. Thank you very much. And looking forward to hearing from you.