[nfbwatlk] {Disarmed} How do blind persons compensate for this kind of sighted interactions?

Kaye Kipp kkipp123 at gmail.com
Sun Nov 30 15:30:42 UTC 2014

Well, one time I was at a hospital to have a procedure done, and the doctor
came in to talk to me.  I guess I wasn't making eye contact and the doctor
said, "So you're not going to look at me?"  He was quite incensed.


-----Original Message-----
From: nfbwatlk [mailto:nfbwatlk-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Jim
Portillo via nfbwatlk
Sent: Sunday, November 30, 2014 7:11 AM
To: Don Mitchell; NFB of Washington Talk Mailing List
Cc: Mike Freeman
Subject: Re: [nfbwatlk] {Disarmed} How do blind persons compensate for this
kind of sighted interactions?

Interesting thread, Don.  I hear this a lot as well and seeing as how I have
many friends, I see just how much they depend on sight for everything,
including communication.

In fact, this has been a topic of conversation between my music partner and
me when it comes to song delivery.  There are certain songs where Bill has
emphasized a line he's singing or a message he's trying to get across by
looking directly at a person or focusing on a group of people.  And you
know, I know plenty of other musicians who will look at and focus on
different parts of the room...certain rows or quadrants.  
I try and do the best I can, by facing people and I try turning my head
toward different areas of the room.  I doubt it's effective, but nobody
tells me otherwise.

I was, or probably still am, like Mike in thinking that I can try making my
conversation as interesting as possible so as not to need any sight.  Again,
I don't know that always works because so many people painfully depend on
their sight even to do things like give an example of how big or small
something was or how something they're describing looked or whatever.
It's tough.

One on one is fine because you can just face the person.  One thing I cannot
do is give different types of looks to someone.  I can't glare or question
or give an approving look with my eyes the way others do, so either my whole
face has to get involved (which makes subtlety nonexistent) or don't try at

Sorry for the ramble.


Sent from my iPhone 6!

> On Nov 27, 2014, at 9:26 AM, Don Mitchell via nfbwatlk
<nfbwatlk at nfbnet.org> wrote:
> Thanks Mike,
> In the class I took the statistic was 90% of what we learn is through 
> sight and of that 90% of interpersonal communication was through the eyes.
> I will never forget when I had some usable vision 26/100 seeing a very 
> beautiful young woman who had stunningly bright eyes. Even I could see 
> them from an acceptable distance. They were stunning. Sure made me 
> wish I could get a lot closer to that beautiful person.
> When I was young and very shy and insecure I could never figure out 
> why I couldn't draw attention to myself. I am learning that 
> self-esteem, courage, and just down right curiosity to know people has 
> helped me to overcome shyness and insecurity.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Mike Freeman [mailto:k7uij at panix.com]
> Sent: Thursday, November 27, 2014 7:52 AM
> To: 'Don Mitchell'; 'NFB of Washington Talk Mailing List'
> Subject: RE: [nfbwatlk] {Disarmed} How do blind persons compensate for 
> this kind of sighted interactions?
> Don:
> I have two answers or observations:
> (1) Bear in mind that the course was taught by a sighted person who 
> buys into the notion that sight is *the* essential communication 
> medium and that anyone who lacks it is severely handicapped. This hits 
> me about like the unprovable assertion one hears all the time in 
> everything from optics classes to social courses that seventy percent 
> of knowledge comes through the eyes. You and I know, of course, that 
> this is utter nonsense!. For one thing, how does one quantify 
> communication? For another, might not how one gains knowledge be 
> based, in part, upon the individual? But I'll leave that debate for 
> another time. But since the sighted are the majority, there is a certain
validity to their assertion that eye contact is supremely important.
> But take it with a grain of salt or the telephone would never have 
> gained popularity.
> (2) What do we do? WE do the best we can. We face the speaker, keep 
> our head up (not down on our chests) and try to make our conversation 
> sufficiently interesting that eye contact won't matter. And we use 
> other techniques such as using other people to inform us who is trying 
> to get our attention or who is in a room.
> Above all, we acknowledge that we live in a sighted world, do what we 
> can to deal with it and stop worrying about it. After all, it's not a 
> situation that's going to change and I dare say we can largely 
> compensate. (You never heard anyone say to FDR: "Just think what you 
> could do were you not paralyzed!").
> Incidentally, at a Youth Slam or some such event a few years ago where 
> there was a simultaneous seminar for parents of blind children, Denise 
> Mackenstadt said there was a discussion wherein parents asked why 
> their kids kept their heads down. They discovered they could *hear* 
> better if their heads were down.
> Mike Freeman
> -----Original Message-----
> From: nfbwatlk [mailto:nfbwatlk-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Don 
> Mitchell via nfbwatlk
> Sent: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 10:39 PM
> To: 'Debby Phillips'; 'NFB of Washington Talk Mailing List'; 'Corey 
> Grandstaff'
> Subject: [nfbwatlk] {Disarmed} How do blind persons compensate for 
> this kind of sighted interactions?
> Since I took a communications class and learned how important eyes are 
> in communication I have wondered how we as blind persons compensate, 
> adapt, or develop accommodations for this kind of sighted 
> interactions. What are your thoughts?
> <http://www.sciencealert.com/>
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> How humans learn to subconsciously connect with their eyes
> Researchers have studied the way infants 'read' emotions in people's 
> eyes to discover that at just seven months old, most people have 
> already figured out how to derive meaning from these incredibly complex
> BEC CREW   24 NOV 2014
> Facebook Icon9.1kTwitter Icon41Email Icon
> By decoding the brain activity of infants that were subconsciously 
> exposed to various expressions, an international team of psychologists 
> has demonstrated how humans learn to communicate using their eyes alone.
> When it comes to expressing our emotions - intentionally or not - 
> there's nothing quite like our eyes. Whether we're experiencing 
> feelings of joy or fear, or a deep sadness or boredom that we can't 
> help but give away, our eyes are the windows to our souls, and as 
> humans, there's not a whole lot we can do to change that.
> But let's not lose perspective here,
> <http://online.wsj.com/articles/how-humans-learn-to-communicate-with-t
> heir-e yes-1416414194?mod=e2tw> as Alison Gopnik points out at The 
> Washington Post, eyes are really just slightly squishy globes of 
> jelly-goo surrounded in special nerves, fibres and lens cells. They're 
> incredibly complex organs, yes, but how can they express so much 
> without us even trying?
> New research by psychologists Sarah Jessen from the Max Planck 
> Institute in Germany and Tobias Grossmann of the University of 
> Virginia in the US has discovered that not only do we learn to read 
> and respond to what we see in each other's eyes at an extremely young 
> age, but we do so subconsciously in order to survive.
> Humans are the only primates with a large, highly visible sclera - the 
> white part of the eye - which makes them easier to track and read than 
> the eyes of many other animals. Imagine trying to read the emotions of 
> a hamster without any physical cues other than what's going on 
> <https://encrypted-tbn2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTV2qgCAdecYHWFf
> oq9Gvd sTEHgAMJ_hmVa8jygnu1ixaB9kzzzvQ> in those black, beady pools. 
> Those adorable little enigmas.
> But most people, even when they're very young, tune in and focus on 
> another person's eyes when they're trying to connect and read their 
> emotions and intent. Grossmann and Jessen decided to test this ability 
> in several very young babies to see just how early on in a human's 
> life meaning can be derived by reading another person's eyes.
> Working with seven-month-old babies, Grossmann and Jessen exposed 
> their young subjects to several schematic pictures of human eyes 
> showing either fearful expressions - wide-eyed plenty of visible 
> sclera - or neutral, dead-eyed expressions. The eyes would either be 
> looking front on at their infant audience, or to the side. The infants 
> were also shown images of eyes where the colours had been reversed, so 
> the eye whites would be black, and the pupils white.
> Each image in the series was shown to the infants for just 50 
> milliseconds, which is enough for them to subconsciously register what 
> they saw, but not long enough for them to really think about it. And 
> all of this was happening while the infant subjects were wearing 
> <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electroencephalography> EEG caps, which 
> are equipped with an array of sensors that detect and record brain 
> signals as they occur.
> "The babies' brain-waves were different when they looked at the 
> fearful eyes and the neutral ones, and when they saw the eyes look 
> right at them or off to one side,"
> <http://online.wsj.com/articles/how-humans-learn-to-communicate-with-t
> heir-e yes-1416414194?mod=e2tw> reports Gopnik at The Washington Post. 
> "The differences were particularly clear in the frontal parts of the 
> brain. Those brain areas control attention and are connected to the 
> brain areas that detect fear."
> But when the babies were shown the reverse-colour images, their brain 
> scans revealed that they did not differentiate between the fearful and 
> neutral expressions. This suggests that the position and area of the 
> sclera is crucial for how we interpret meaning in each other's eyes, 
> especially when we're young.
> "Their brains clearly responded to social cues conveyed through the 
> eyes, indicating that even without conscious awareness, human infants 
> are able to detect subtle social cues,"
> <https://news.virginia.edu/content/whites-their-eyes-study-finds-infan
> ts-res
> pond-social-cues-sclera> said Grossmann in a press release.
> "This demonstrates that, like adults, infants are sensitive to eye 
> expressions of fear and direction of focus, and that these responses 
> operate without conscious awareness,"
> <https://news.virginia.edu/content/whites-their-eyes-study-finds-infan
> ts-res
> pond-social-cues-sclera> he adds. "The existence of such brain 
> pond-social-cues-sclera> mechanisms in
> infants likely provides a vital foundation for the development of 
> social interactive skills in humans."
> The results were published in
> <http://www.pnas.org/content/111/45/16208.short> Proceedings of the 
> National Academy of Science.
> Sources:
> <https://news.virginia.edu/content/whites-their-eyes-study-finds-infan
> ts-res
> pond-social-cues-sclera> The University of Virginia,
> <http://online.wsj.com/articles/how-humans-learn-to-communicate-with-t
> heir-e yes-1416414194?mod=e2tw> The Washington Post
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