Seeing is believing for most people, but what about the blind?
Body Language Key to Communication
Research indicates that 55% of communication is conveyed by body language—eye contact, facial expressions, gestures, posture, and the like, while 38% is conveyed by voice and its quality, tone, and inflections. A mere 7% of what we say—our words—matters to any conversation.
This means that 55% of what we mean is unseen by blind individuals, who are then at a disadvantage when communicating with others.
Tactile Display and Web Cam “Show” Facial Expressions
A new project at Umeå University in Sweden has created a revolutionary formula for blind individuals to “see” the emotional facial expressions of another subject using a tactile display and a Web cam. Visual cues are relayed through the tactile display, resulting in vibrations that are fed by a forearm sleeve to the blind individual’s skin. Even as conversations wander and facial expressions change, signals continue to cue the blind individual what the subject appears to be feeling.
The blind individual must learn by using the device in front of a mirror before using it effectively in conversations, but all it would take is showing a variety of facial expressions to the mirror and remembering which ones cue which series and sequences of vibrations.
Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education performing research surrounding online universities and their various program offerings. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.