TactOse for participatory research

Aman­dine Legry, a stu­dent in the Hutech course, is doing her end-of-engi­neer­ing diplo­ma course intern­ship at UTC-Costech. She is work­ing with Charles Lenay, a pro­fes­sor of phi­los­o­phy and cog­ni­tive sci­ences, whose research focus­es on per­cep­tu­al sub­sti­tu­tion and on assis­tive devices for peo­ple with blindness.

What is his role pre­cise­ly? “It’s a ques­tion of per­pet­u­at­ing our links with the blind and visu­al­ly impaired peo­ple liv­ing in the Com­piègne region. Hence the idea of found­ing a tri­par­tite asso­ci­a­tion between UTC stu­dents, Costech’s teacher-researchers who work on these issues and the visu­al­ly impaired or blind peo­ple of Com­piègne and beyond,” explains Aman­dine Legry.

An idea that Charles Lenay found very appeal­ing. “I have been work­ing for years on projects relat­ed to per­cep­tion and the cre­ation of assis­tive devices, but I was frus­trat­ed to see that, as soon as the project was com­plet­ed, the blind peo­ple with whom we had estab­lished human con­tacts were left, so to speak, out in the cold. We thought that we should rem­e­dy this by cre­at­ing an asso­ci­a­tion that could per­pet­u­ate the links but above all mobilise the UTC students.

This is how Tac­tOse — the name found by Ombe­line Lheureux -, in oth­er words “Dare to touch”, was born in Sep­tem­ber 2022, out of a need for con­ti­nu­ity between research projects and the human links forged with the blind. Why Tac­tOse? “It’s an allu­sion to the inter­faces with which sub­jects are equipped. These are tac­tile inter­faces that give them access to dig­i­tal envi­ron­ments. So, when the sub­ject scans the screen with his cur­sor and encoun­ters this or that shape, he gets such tac­tile feed­back that he has the impres­sion of touch­ing the shapes,” he adds.

This ini­tia­tive is entire­ly in line with the approach with­in the ‘Health Care’ axis. “It is not a ques­tion of impos­ing tech­nol­o­gy on peo­ple and forc­ing them to accept it, but of set­ting up the con­di­tions for par­tic­i­pa­to­ry research with blind peo­ple, young peo­ple and researchers in order to car­ry out mean­ing­ful actions togeth­er,” he stresses.

This ini­tia­tive has also attract­ed the atten­tion of the Nation­al Insti­tute for Young Blind Peo­ple and the apiDV asso­ci­a­tion (Accom­pa­g­n­er, Pro­mou­voir, Inté­gr­er les Défi­cients Visuels). Among the objec­tives of these asso­ci­a­tions? “They work, among oth­er things, to encour­age and assist the inte­gra­tion of adults into the world of work and young peo­ple into the edu­ca­tion sys­tem and cre­ate mech­a­nisms to help young blind peo­ple access high­er edu­ca­tion, for exam­ple,” says Aman­dine. Beyond the research car­ried out, Charles Lenay and Aman­dine Legry add a dream: “To make the UTC a “Blind Friend­ly” place”.

In con­crete terms? “It is a ques­tion of work­ing on two main axes. The first one con­cerns the sen­si­ti­za­tion of both teach­ers and admin­is­tra­tive staff who would have to work with blind or visu­al­ly impaired stu­dents. Even if, when we talk about dig­i­tal acces­si­bil­i­ty for exam­ple, it cer­tain­ly does not only con­cern the blind but also peo­ple with oth­er dis­or­ders such as lan­guage dis­or­ders, etc. Hence the impor­tance of cre­at­ing spe­cif­ic con­tent to facil­i­tate their inte­gra­tion into the school. The sec­ond is the train­ing of engi­neers. We are taught how to han­dle lots of tools and devel­op tech­nol­o­gy, but there is no teach­ing on the laws gov­ern­ing dis­abil­i­ty,” con­cludes Aman­dine Legry.

Le magazine

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