The Psychology of Touch

By Morton A. Heller; William Schiff | Go to book overview

CHAPTER
9
BRAILLE

Emerson Foulke University of Louisville


INTRODUCTION

Since early times, there have been numerous efforts to make print tangible so that blind persons could read. A thorough review of the disappointing experience with raised-print letters is provided by Farrell ( 1956). It was not until Louis Braille introduced his code in 1829 that a really useful means of reading by touch became available.

The acceptance of braille was delayed by a prolonged and often acrimonious dispute concerning the relative merits of several codes with dot patterns as characters, and several codes with different styles of print characters formed by raised lines (for an excellent review of the struggle that preceded the acceptance of a uniform Braille code, see Irwin, 1955). At the time this debate over the kind of letter best observed by touch took place, it was not customary to resolve such issues by experiment. However, the results of recent research are congruent with the experience of those blind persons who were using Braille's code.

Millar ( 1985) compared braille characters with tactile stimuli, which, though formed by continuous raised lines instead of dots, had the same outline shapes as the braille characters, and found braille characters to be more discriminable. Loomis ( 1981) hypothesized that the superior tangibility of punctiform patterns in comparison with patterns formed by raised lines is a consequence of the low spatial frequency that characterizes tactual observation. To test this hypothesis, he matched the spatial frequency of the visual system to the spatial frequency of the tactual system by using low-pass filtering to reduce the spatial frequency of print letters observed visually until they were no more legible than analogous raised letters observed tactually. By comparing the legibility of these letters with the legibility of braille letters observed visually, and with the legibility of braille letters observed tactually, he showed that

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The Psychology of Touch
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • References x
  • References xi
  • Chapter 1 Introduction 1
  • Part I Sensory Phenomena 21
  • References 22
  • Chapter 2 Sensory and Physiological Bases of Touch 23
  • References 55
  • Chapter 3 Thermal Sensibility 61
  • References 87
  • Chapter 14 Pain Responsiveness 91
  • References 111
  • References 112
  • Part II Development and Intermodal Relations 115
  • References 117
  • Chapter 5 Intermodality Relations: Vision and Touch 119
  • References 135
  • Chapter 6 the Development of Haptic Perception During Infancy 139
  • Part III Tactile Pattern Perception 163
  • References 166
  • Chapter 7 Haptic Perception of Form: Activity and Stimulus Attributes 169
  • Chapter 8 Vibrotactile Pattern Perception: Some Findings and Applications 189
  • References 213
  • Chapter 9 Braille 219
  • References 235
  • References 238
  • Chapter 10 Haptic Perception in Blind People 239
  • Chapter 11 Tactile Pictures 263
  • References 296
  • Chapter 12 a Reversed Lag in the Recognition and Production of Tactual Drawings: Theoretical Implications for Haptic Coding 301
  • References 323
  • Chapter 13 Conclusions: the Future of Touch 327
  • References 336
  • Author Index 339
  • Subject Index 349
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