Sound Descriptions of Haptic Experiences of Art Work by Deafblind Cochlear Implant Users

Riitta Lahtinen, Camilla Groth, Russ Palmer

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Deafblind persons’ perception and experiences are based on their residual auditive and visual senses, and touch. Their haptic exploration, through movements and orientation towards objects give blind persons direct, independent experience. Few studies explore the aesthetic experiences and appreciation of artefacts of deafblind people using cochlear implant (CI) technology, and how they interpret and express their perceived aesthetic experience through another sensory modality. While speech recognition is studied extensively in this area, the aspect of auditive descriptions made by CI users are a less-studied domain. This present research intervention describes and analyses five different deafblind people sharing their interpretation of five statues vocally, using sounds and written descriptions based on their haptic explorations. The participants found new and multimodal ways of expressing their experiences, as well as re-experiencing them through technological aids. We also found that the CI users modify technology to better suit their personal needs. We conclude that CI technology in combination with self-made sound descriptions enhance memorization of haptic art experiences that can be re-called by the recording of the sound descriptions. This research expands the idea of auditive descriptions, and encourages user-produced descriptions as artistic supports to traditional linguistic, audio descriptions. These can be used to create personal auditive–haptic memory collections similar to how sighted create photo albums.
Original languageEnglish
Article number24
JournalMultimodal Technologies and Interaction
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 11 May 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • haptic experience
  • deafblindness
  • technological aids
  • cochlear implant
  • aesthetic experience
  • vocalization as memory


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