The word technology resonates with incompressible circuit boards, expensive gadgets, and the film i-Robot. Sometimes, we even consider it something to be feared (just think back to Y2K). But technology is defined as an application of knowledge for practical purposes – it doesn’t have to be complex machinery and computers. In fact, the best technologies aren’t the most complicated, but the ones that have the most impact. Touch Graphics is a perfect example of innovative technology that makes treatment accessible. These innovative revolutions are helping to reduce the impact of life-altering events, like losing sight.
Touch Graphics focuses on technologies that enable the visually impaired to draw through low-tech, accessible, and affordable means. The project is predicated on the idea that when drawing, sight is needed to give feedback to the artist. You must visualize where your pencil has been, and where it is going to go to complete a coherent piece. If the drawer cannot see or visualize at which point they are at, it becomes difficult to locate where the next stroke will go – and even mean that they cannot experience their project upon completion.
In the past, this has meant the visually impaired were unable to draw. The Touch Graphics project has revolutionized this principle by using tactile feedback. It is somewhat similar to braille. A person can learn to draw by using styli and paper – using feel to see their drawing – opposed to sight. As their instrument passes over the paper, the styli beneath raises, allowing the artist to explore their work and decipher the next point of contact without sight. They can visualize the piece, which empowers hobbyists and born-to-be artists to engage with art, in a way which was otherwise impossible.
Anyone with good motor skills in their fingertips can learn to use this set-up. In bringing tactile sensation to the perceptual foreground, vision becomes effortless. It has shown to become a highly refined skill with practice. The set-up is affordable due to materials being easily accessible for everyone. A perfect example of technology being intelligent innovation – and fit for purpose.
Touch Graphics, inc focuses on products that communicate spatial information through the sense of touch for use by visually impaired. They are featured on https://www.cooperhewitt.org/ an organisation which curates a myriad of designs that enable people in the artistic field. If you have a story to share, drop me a comment or retweet – I’d love to hear what you think.