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a question to ponder

If 80 percent of people's information comes from visual input, what does that say about blind people's functioning in various situations? I would like thoughts on this from a variety of readers... I have my own ideas, which I will post separately--and later--along with the "back story". But I would like to hear thoughts about this. I am particularly interested in your thoughts if you are sighted--about half my readership is made up of other blind people, so I'd like to balance out the viewpoints if possible.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 7th, 2007 05:47 pm (UTC)
I believe that blind people transfer that 80% gathering ability to their other senses, and actually "see" the world and information through a totally different perspective, sometimes a clearer one. Blind people, for instance, make better conversationalists because they don't rely on hand gestures and facial expressions the way so many sighted people do. They use words. And they feel their environment in a way that sighted people don't, and can recognize people based on voice alone, instead of relying upon facial recognition. In many ways, it's a richer world. We sighted people would do well to emulate them.
Nov. 7th, 2007 06:50 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure I buy into the claim that 80% of the information people obtain is visual. I'd need to see studies that led to this number. And if the studies involved blindfolded sighted subjects, they're not really valid.

But even if *sighted* people obtain 80% of information visually, that doesn't mean that we can only acces 20% of the information they access. We obtain the same information differently. As an example, I once teased a friend for putting her bare feet on her kitchen table. I knew she'd done this because of auditory clues (thankfully, there was no olfactory evidence!). This same friend was also surprised once when we were out for coffee, and I mentioned that she was almost finished with her drink. I knew this because of the sound of her cup when she set it on the table.

OK, these probably aren't the situations you were referring to. But I'm at work now, so this has to be brief. I'm sure I could come up with other examples if I had more time. Good thread.
Nov. 7th, 2007 07:52 pm (UTC)
I want to see the study, and I want to know if they A. used sighted people they blind-folded, and B. if hey used blind people in their studies, and if so were they blind from birth or did they go blind later? there are so many things that could have skewed the study statistics.
Nov. 7th, 2007 10:19 pm (UTC)
I'm sure there are situations in which blind people are at an immediate disadvantage, but I experience that as a severely hard of hearing person as well. I'm technically sighted, but if I'm not wearing my glasses the most I can do is read a book if it's right in front of my nose. Everything else is just too blurry.

That said, I don't know where you came up with the 80% figure, but I'm not confident that such a figure could possibly be accurate. I am sighted, but due to my hearing impairment my sense of smell, taste and touch are heightened. I also notice things visually that a lot of sighted people don't notice simply because I am excessively vigilant with regard to my surroundings to make up for what I can't hear.

I don't think a study of that nature could be entirely accurate because it's possible (for example) that some of the sighted people used in the study have mild hearing losses. Not significant enough that they need hearing aids, yet still significant enough that without realizing it, they rely a bit more on their other senses to compensate for their mild loss.

For example, I didn't even realize I could lip read until someone pointed it out to me in my mid-twenties, but I had been doing it for years! (which suddenly made sense out of the fact that as far back as about age 11 or 12, when someone spoke to me when I was cleaning my glasses, I'd say, "hang on, I can't hear you, let me put my glasses on") That sounds funny, sure - but the "why" didn't hit me for another dozen years or more. I unconsciously adapted to my hearing loss by using my sense of sight. I think more people do things like this than are aware of it.

That's why I'd be very skeptical of any such study unless we knew for certain the physiological particulars of each and every person that participated, and knowing that each person's particulars were carefully considered in compiling the data.
Nov. 8th, 2007 01:21 am (UTC)
I think some of this 80% can be made up by better using other senses such as hearing and touch. This is assuming that there are appropriate accomodations in place (braille, O&M training, audible traffic signals, etc.).

I think some can be made up by using cognitive skills and common sense and assumptions.

I think for those of us with low vision, some can still be obtained through vision.

I think all of the above take more work than sighted people put into it. I think that I as a low vision person am always (or at least frequently) working under more pressure than it takes a sighted person to do the same task. This doesn't mean that I am always aware of this extra pressure or the extra energy I need to put into things, but I think it's still there.

I think a lot is missed completely and this impacts people in terms daily living, social situations, etc.
Nov. 9th, 2007 01:49 am (UTC)
Visual input...?
I'd have to agree with the comment about blind individual's making better use of their other senses...you know it is a shame that a human has so many strong senses, but we typically rely on one. I would think that blind people rely as much on hearing as sighted people do on vision...and sighted people have, for the most part, let their hearing go...think about all those people we describe as not being good listeners...most of the time in a conversation they are just watching and waiting for a chance to tell what they have to say...and they don't really listen to what the person they are talking to has to say. That said, I wonder about the problem of sound in the videos you described...or sound in the online course setting...which is, by the way, something I learned about at this conference I'm attending. More later...!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


Sarah Blake LaRose
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