The Psychology of Touch

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

CHAPTER 11 TACTILE PICTURES

John M. Kennedy University of Toronto Scarborough, Ontario

Paul Gabias Okanagan College Kelowna, British Columbia

Andrea Nicholls McMaster University Hamilton, Ontario


INTRODUCTION

Could a picture make sense to someone who has never seen, someone who has never had visual experience with pictures or with objects that are shown in the pictures? To appreciate how depiction might be intelligible to touch, we need to consider theory of depiction and theory of touch. Most of the psychological research on tactile pictures uses outline drawings, so special attention needs to be paid to the processes outline can evoke.

The claims we will entertain are as follows: Pictures are universals. They are available to vision and touch. Outline drawing in particular relies on perceptual affinities between line and abrupt change in relief, rather than purely visual matters such as shadows or color patches on a surface. Some line junctions may act in touch as they do in vision. Rules governing configurations of relief features are identical in principle in vision and touch, since both senses garner information across time about the same layout of surfaces. Differences between vision and touch in relief perception are more a matter of degree than of kind, each sense having its advantages and disadvantages. Communication of motion via pictures can include violation of configuration rules producing apt pictorial metaphors that make sense to both the blind and the sighted without training.

A convenient device for making tactile pictures is an inexpensive kit consisting of a board and plastic sheets, available for example from the Swedish organization for the blind (RPH-SYN, Tomtebodevagan 11, S-171 64, Sol

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