|Tactile Images Transform the Patient Experience
In a visual world, people with low vision are often excluded from the arts, culture and even their own medical treatment due to a lack of accessibility. Tactile Images, a company that makes visual knowledge accessible to the blind and visually impaired, bridges this gap with installations that increase engagement, accessibility and inclusion.
| Tactile Images has also expanded into space exploration through a partnership with the Space Telescope Science Institute to create an accessible experience from images taken from the James Webb Space Telescope.
When co-founder John Olson was invited by the National Federation of the Blind to form a partnership, he soon discovered the need for accessible imagery for those with low vision. His own experience working as a staff photographer for Life Magazine had given him a unique understanding of the visual world and the power of imagery.
“By presenting visual information in alternative ways, tactile images help to provide all users with a firsthand connection to knowledge that may otherwise be inaccessible to individuals with vision loss,” Olson said following the unveiling of the new interactive experience featuring a tactile image of the visual system.
Today, Tactile Images takes their promise to use their technology to integrate sensory stimulation through an enhanced, accessible kinesthetic experience and applies it to countless innovative programs and services for the visually impaired.
“It more or less replaces the sense of sight and allows someone to experience the image,” said Tactile Images creative director Brad LaMere, adding the result is an equitable way to interact for those who can and cannot see.
|Tactile Images’ Brad LaMere said the technology to integrate sensory stimulation through an enhanced, accessible kinesthetic experience, “more or less replaces the sense of sight and allows someone to experience the image.”
Tactile Images partnered with Getty Images to help turn some of the world’s most famous visuals into an accessible experience.
Through the use of 3D imagery and braille for text, Tactile Images combines sensors that are embedded in strategic locations and creates a touch-activated narrative. In some cases, olfactory sensors are also added to add depth and authenticity to the image.
The partnership with the New England College of Optometry (NECO) is just one of the many traveling exhibits that have been developed to improve access to care.
“It’s an app for people who are blind, so they can learn about their conditions and procedures,” LaMere said. “It is also an overview for everyone who is sighted or otherwise to learn about the visual systems."
LaMere said the team worked with medical illustrators to create the images, which he said the company hopes will be the first of many partnerships with medical institutions. Recently, the company has also expanded into space exploration through a partnership with the Space Telescope Science Institute home to create an accessible experience from images taken from the James Webb Space Telescope. The exhibit, titled Experience the Cosmos: The James Webb Space Telescope, features 10 multi-sensory tactile prints included in the exhibit along with 10 large-format photographs.
“We are trying to provide people who are blind an opportunity to have control over their experience,” he said, adding that many people the company has spoken with have said they do not attend museums or other public gathering spots because there's no way for them to be part of the experience. “This is one part of the bigger picture. These projects give autonomy and freedom for the blind and visually impaired to have an experience independently,” LaMere concluded.