“How can I help my blind friends see my aquarium?”
That’s what I’ve written above, thanks to a marvelous online Braille converter.
For, I have made two friends this semester who happen to be blind: Eileen and Brad. They proved incredibly generous with their knowledge and patient with my inquiries as they guided me through a challenging school assignment exploring Braille literacy.
Beyond the lessons of that assignment, they’ve shown me they partake and participate in very many of the same joys and experiences sighted people do … but sometimes with different sensory or technological approaches. For instance, they can access this web page via their Braille note-takers….
A Braille Notetaker offers wireless access to the internet, e-mail printers, embossers… can work as a GPS, synchronize with a PC and more…
But if they do access it? I can’t help but wonder what my friends, or any blind person who enjoys aquarium keeping, might make of Aquariverse’s recently color saturated posts?
Brad assures me, “The images are visible on my computer screen. My System Access software simply converts any text under the cursor to speech; so, the captions or any other descriptive material is immediately heard, as well as seen. I don’t need vision in order to ‘see’ images. With captions, or any descriptive text, I receive a rough idea of what the image is portraying.”
The colors of the Aquariverse live in the mind’s eye.
So here’s an image I would like to share…
Aquariverse’s home aquarium is 21 inches tall, 37 inches wide and 12 and a half inches deep – as in front to back. Its face is slightly bowed. Its lid is made of hinged glass – which I think is cool because I’ve never had a fish-tank I can look down into. It affords an interesting perspective.
Two orange goldfish look eagerly through the bow-front tank. Chunky pale gravel and green plants decorate their tank. Driftwood, shaped like an upside down Y provides shelter and moss to graze on.
The exterior glass is warmish to the touch. Drop your hand inside, and you’ll notice the water is warmish, too. A little more than lukewarm in fact, registering at 78 Fahrenheit on the tank’s thermometer.
Actually, if you do put your hand in, you will attract the interest of the tank’s ever curious inhabitants: George and Flash! Their smooth, cool, silky-slick goldfish bodies will wriggle just past your fingers.
They might nuzzle you just for a moment. They are friendly and always looking for a treat. George has a stubby tail. Flash’s tail will float like a gossamer whisper against your skin.
If I could intimate their colors, I would say their scales are as bright as the way the sun feels on your face on a perfect spring day.
If I were to describe orange through the portal of taste … I think the orange they are makes me as happy as the way sherbet tastes! Or maybe, in Flash’s case … Orange sherbet and vanilla swirled.
If I were to describe them as sound, the way the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra has been doing to characterize sea-life for sight-impaired and blind children….
I would say that George and Flash move through the tank at the same tempo as the Beatles: “Penny Lane.”
I don’t even know why. That’s just the tempo and variations of rhythm that occur to me as I consider the way they move through the world that is their tank.
Maybe I’m not too far off track. Searching to see if anyone beyond the RPO has used music to describe marine life, I found this story about an “Audio Aquarium” that uses recognition software to track objects based on their shape and color.
“The software then links each movement to different instruments that change in pitch and tempo as the fish patrol the tank. Fish that move toward the surface have a higher pitch. The faster they move, the faster the tempo.” You can read more about that at the following link.
Searching the web to see how else music might describe marine-life, I stumbled upon this delightful story:
Helping the blind picture sea life with musical textures and shapes
So, Brad and Eileen, until we meet again…
“Braille is knowledge, and knowledge is power.”
* The Photo of the Mind’s Eye: This is a close-up image of a human eye. The eye is gazing slightly upward. The pupil is black. The iris reflects a spectrum of light, green, blue, violet and orange.