Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Pablo Gomez, Ph.D.
David Allbritton, Ph.D.
Research on reading through the sense of touch is needed to understand the difficulties that surround the learning of braille and to improve our understanding of the brain mechanisms behind reading in general. The cognitive processes of braille reading have been little explored in comparison to visual reading mainly because the tools used in visual modality are not adapted to the tactile modality. A crucial aspect in the comprehension of reading processes is to determine how the elements of any written script are recognized for which it is needed to know what its salient characteristics are. The present MA Thesis aims to (1) describe the development of a passive haptic-reading instrument that allows researchers to have control over participants’ exposure to the braille stimuli and record participants’ responses ; and (2) to explore what the features of the braille writing system are by assessing the perceived similarity among the 26 alphabet letters. To this end, two groups of non-braille readers (i.e., Active and Passive) performed a same/different judgment task in which they had to classify a pair of braille letters as being the same two letters or two different letters. A 26×26 confusion matrix per group was generated in which each cell contained the proportion of correct responses for the row-column pair of letters. Similarity among letters was evaluated through hierarchical clustering and multidimensional scaling procedures, indicating that the number of dots and the way those dots are arranged across the cell’s rows are salient features of braille characters. The differences in performance between active and passive groups were assessed through the visual comparison of the similarity results and the calculation of the Pearson’s product moment correlation coefficient. Results did not show differences in performance between active and passive conditions; a strong correlation is shown between the accuracy data of both groups which supports the use of passive haptic-reading instrument to investigate braille perception. The evidence shown here is important for understanding braille reading learning. Future research needs to examine what the salient features of braille letters are for expert readers to have more information about how knowledge influences the recognition process. This would be crucial to improve educational practices surrounding braille literacy.
Baciero de Lama, Ana, "How similar are braille letters? Towards the understanding of reading through the sense of touch." (2019). College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations. 306.