“The power of language to stimulate visual imagination allows all of us, even the congenitally blind, to see with another person’s eyes.”
— Oliver Sacks, The Mind’s Eye, 2010
What is Vislan?
Our blind and sighted research team is collaborating on a new online project that intends to make the richness of visual experiences autonomously accessible to people who are remote from them.
The Vislan project, founded by Mr Geoffrey Munck, leverages the skills that blind people develop for conceptualising their surroundings, and applies them to guide sighted people to improve their powers of observation and description.
We believe removing lack of sight as a barrier to meaningful engagement with visual culture can help to end the sense of social exclusion felt by people who may not be able to see quite so well.
Vislan is not a disability project, although the blind are among those to benefit from it. Rather it is a much broader community communication project that is informed by the lived experience of blindness, with game changing benefits for the sighted and visually remote alike.
The longer term plans for Vislan are to make the text translations and the method available through a web-based platform that people can access and contribute to, building a crowd-sourced cultural resource that brings people of all abilities together in conversation and understanding.
How Vislan works.
Questions posed by a visually remote user elicit an observation report by their sighted colleague that they then remediate in narrative, forming Vislan’s phenomenological syntax.
Through this process of visual translation not only can the visually remote generate a more complete conceptualisation, but the sighted must slow down and really see what they are looking at.
Vislan’s question and answer format and interactive media delivery seeks to improve on first generation audio description programs that suffer from brevity and a uni-directional lecture style, which omits valuable information, denying the audience the dignity of exploring and reaching their own conclusions.
Who will use Vislan?
Vislan benefits everyone who wants or needs to comprehend visible objects, images and spaces.
Vislan is designed to improve communications and enhances rapport between the vision-impaired and the sighted, within families and social networks, between educators, carers, medical service providers, work environments, cultural producers, venues, audiences, and others who interact with people with low or no vision.