[nfbwatlk] Another device to help us "see"

Arielle Silverman arielle71 at gmail.com
Mon Jun 22 03:54:41 UTC 2015

Hi all. While I'm not impressed by the meager information I've heard
about this device, I would caution against a knee-jerk negative
reaction. Instead I'd be inclined to ask the manufacturer some pointed
questions in order to build an educated opinion regarding the benefits
and drawbacks of the device. Any assistive technology, even the cane,
has benefits and drawbacks, and it's likely that people once scoffed
at the necessity to carry a white stick around, too.
Some questions I would ask: Is the device visible to others, e.g. does
it require the user to stick out the tongue or can it be placed
discreetly under the tongue? What kind of feedback does it offer and
how detailed is the output? Could it be used for safe navigation
outdoors? What are some other functional uses? How many blind subjects
tested the device?
I agree that a device which offers information redundant with the
cane, or superfluous info about objects, or one that requires an
unsightly sticking out the tongue, is probably not worth our time.
However, if this device led to the development of further refined
devices that could allow us to navigate "hands-free" without tying up
one hand with a cane or dog, that could allow u more freedom of
movement. In short, I don't think it benefits us to reject a new
technology out of hand just because it sounds gross or it seems on the
surface to play into super-sensory stereotypes. Instead, I would
encourage us to gather some information and make some well-reasoned
arguments about the shortcomings of the device. We can't claim that
such a device is actually allowing us to "se" any more than a cane
lets us "see". However, the cane does allow us to access a lot of
information using another (tactile) sense, and this device, if
improved a bit, could similarly act as a sensory substitution device.
Best, Arielle

On 6/21/15, Mary ellen via nfbwatlk <nfbwatlk at nfbnet.org> wrote:
> I think we should create a "Wall of Shame" where these devices could be
> displayed.  There's the Sonicguide, the Mowat Sensor, the Stereotoner, and
> ,oh so many more!
> Some devices that originally seemed useless have proven to have some
> benefits, but the underlying premise that technology can cause our other
> senses to somehow mimic sight is a flawed concept.
> The Sonicguide gave information about surrounding objects, but the info
> wasn't much better than the echo given back by a cane or a soft tongue
> click.  In fact, it was worse, because it was so loud and intrusive that it
> masked the subtle sounds that we use all the time.
> I believe scientists who develop these things start with the premise that,
> without sight, we are totally ignorant of our surroundings and need
> artificially created and unnecessarily amplified sensory replacement
> mechanisms.
> I don't know what to say to reporters who pass along this stuff
> uncritically.  How do you tell them that our environmental knowledge is so
> much richer than they believe?
> Good luck, Marci.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: nfbwatlk [mailto:nfbwatlk-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Marci
> Carpenter via nfbwatlk
> Sent: Sunday, June 21, 2015 6:01 PM
> To: NFB of Washington Talk Mailing List
> Cc: Marci Carpenter
> Subject: [nfbwatlk] Another device to help us "see"
> Here is an article from the June 18 issue of the Washington Post. I missed
> it on Newsline but saw a Facebook post about it today from an NFB member. I
> groaned at the time. Then I saw a KIN5 news story about it tonight. Of
> course they pretty much read the story word for word. I will call them
> tomorrow. I would appreciate your thoughts about what I might say and how
> you all feel about this.
> http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2015/06/18/fda-approves
> -device-to-help-blind-people-see-by-using-their-tongues/
> <http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2015/06/18/fda-approve
> s-device-to-help-blind-people-see-by-using-their-tongues/>
> Marci
> _______________________________________________
> nfbwatlk mailing list
> nfbwatlk at nfbnet.org
> http://nfbnet.org/mailman/listinfo/nfbwatlk_nfbnet.org
> To unsubscribe, change your list options or get your account info for
> nfbwatlk:
> http://nfbnet.org/mailman/options/nfbwatlk_nfbnet.org/gabias%40telus.net
> _______________________________________________
> nfbwatlk mailing list
> nfbwatlk at nfbnet.org
> http://nfbnet.org/mailman/listinfo/nfbwatlk_nfbnet.org
> To unsubscribe, change your list options or get your account info for
> nfbwatlk:
> http://nfbnet.org/mailman/options/nfbwatlk_nfbnet.org/arielle71%40gmail.com

More information about the NFBWATlk mailing list