The importance of sensorial empathy and the language of touch when crafting textiles for people who are visually impaired

Hunt, K. ORCID: 0000-0002-1985-4351, Anna, P. ORCID: 0000-0002-4334-7878 and Worker, G. ORCID: 0000-0002-1225-437X, 2020. The importance of sensorial empathy and the language of touch when crafting textiles for people who are visually impaired. Craft Research, 11 (1), pp. 57-77. ISSN 2040-4689

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Abstract

This paper reflects upon a pilot project crafting textile samples/prototypes for people who are visually impaired. It presents the position that sensorial empathy and further understanding of the language of touch are key in the textile crafting process for makers working with people who are visually impaired, and that aesthetic and experiential textiles (while important to all) are especially important to people who are visually impaired. The project undertakes craft research in an area that is generally overlooked by textile designers. The makers/participants were sighted second year undergraduate textile design students at Nottingham Trent University (NTU) and the end users, who acted as informants, were service users at My Sight Nottinghamshire (a charity in the UK addressing visual impairment). The project is situated within human-centred design, with a focus upon physically intuitive designs crafted for people with visual impairments. The application and usage of the samples/prototypes is aimed at inclusivity, with engagement centred primarily around haptic touch – so looking at the textiles may not reveal their potential application, which becomes more apparent through physical engagement. The project was inspired by work within sensory studies, including the concept of sensorial empathy, and research relating to the language of touch through tactile encounters with art objects from a visually impaired perspective. The methods used in the project drew upon empathic design processes, which were informed by sensory ethnography – particularly 'emplacement' and the holistic consideration of mind, body and place (Pink 2015) – as well as selected aspects of social haptics, particularly ‘environmental description’ (Lahtinen, Palmer and Lahtinen 2010). Recommendations include further development of the language of touch to support textile craft when working with people who are visually impaired and further consideration of 'grounding' as a concept regularly described by the informants (Hunt 2019).

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Craft Research
Creators: Hunt, K., Anna, P. and Worker, G.
Publisher: Intellect
Date: 2020
Volume: 11
Number: 1
ISSN: 2040-4689
Identifiers:
NumberType
10.1386/crre_00015_1DOI
1262732Other
Rights: © 2020 Ingenta. Article copyright remains with the publisher, society or author(s) as specified within the article.
Divisions: Schools > School of Art and Design
Depositing User: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 28 Apr 2020 13:34
Last Modified: 28 Apr 2020 13:34
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/39754

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