Teaching The Blind Through The Sense Of Touch

Just as the deaf can often enjoy music quite a lot, beauty can indeed be experienced by the blind. The sense of touch can often be of great assistance to those with visual impairments. Many blind people can notice imperfections in things that they touched, which the associate with ugliness. For them, objects are much more beautiful if they are even and smooth, things with roughness or with a crack would cause some discomfort.

The thing about imagination is that it requires some previous knowledge in order to construct an image in your head of what you are trying to imagine. We need reference points. The blind often can not experience imagination because they do not have points of reference. This means that when you simply describe something to a blind person they still can not make a construction of what you are describing in their head because they don't know what a pen or a ball or a car actually looks like to begin with. This problem however has a solution. For example, stuffed animals could be used to teach about animals and their shapes. A blind person could be brought to a petting zoo to gain a better understanding of an animals shape or skin. The blind need to be familiarized with different objects or shapes. Through their "innate love of rhythm and regularity, they can be taught, through the sense of touch, to appreciate shapeliness , to find an aesthetic pleasure in sculptures, in certain of the decorative arts, and in raised pictures."

It is proved in the article referenced here that the blind can actually be taught to differentiate between different people based on their physical structure, they can develop a sense of beauty and an aesthetic taste. Once these faculties are developed they can actually expand their experiences in many different areas. It will provide them a better understanding of poetry and other writing, for activities or experiments being conducted in the classroom, and will overall enhance their daily life. There are a couple important things for teachers to consider. First, teachers must be very patient. The development of this sense will take a long time, and they must work with the student to be able to adapt classroom activities so they can get the most out of them. They must consider how they are conducting their lesson and adapt it to the visually impaired. What objects are they using? What should they be using? What kind of handouts are they using? How can they adapt their lesson to meet the needs of the blind? The more senses a teacher can involved in a lesson the better chance the student will be able to gain a more complete understanding. For the blind, acquiring knowledge through a sense of touch can go a long way.


Professor Graber. "The Sense of Touch, and the Teaching of the Blind." Science. Vol 7, No 163, pg 271-272. 1886. http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0036-8075%2818860319%292%3A7%3A163%3C271%3ATSOTAT%3E2.0.CO%3B2-1