My research focuses on understanding the sense of touch and its relationship with vision and hearing. I hope that my research will contribute to the teaching methods and the materials used with people who are visually impaired; for example, in education and rehabilitation (book illustrations); orientation and mobility (maps), and museums (art works). In particular, I investigate how people who use haptic touch – the combination of touch and movement – perceive and process shape information, and how this is affected by vision and hearing.
I use both quantitative and qualitative research methods – combining speed, accuracy, drawing, and/or think-aloud data. Recently, I have also started tracking the exploring movements and pressures of up to six fingers using a novel Android application and a tablet touch screen (with the tactile picture placed on top).
‘You people who can see attach such an absurd importance to your eyes! I set my touch, my dear, against your eyes, as much the most trustworthy, and much the most intelligent sense of the two.’ [Wilkie Collins (1872), cited in C. Peters (ed.), Poor Miss Finch, p. 220. Oxford: Oxford University Press.]