By Virginia Valian
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The study is based on fieldwork of about fifteen months' duration, from July 1983 to October 1983, and from January 1984 to January 1985, among a population of blind people in the Tel-Aviv area. The data and analyses that follow reflect the conditions of that period, but it is my general impression that changes since then have not been remarkable. All the people of the study were adults, the youngest being in their twenties and the oldest in their early sixties. I endeavored to uncover the nature of adult blindness: the population includes only people who lost their sight during their teens at the latest, before completing socialization to adulthood.
This study demonstrates that elemental activities of blind people are by and large constructed by the general environmental culture, and only secondarily by the natural fact of sightlessness. 15 Finally, some of the parameters that figure in this social construction have been uncovered. Wherever I observed relatively free exercise of the senses, this was linked to peripheral people or to conditions of peripherality, in relation to the dominant culture.
More than Aharon's indignation at the perceived inequity, the frank recognition of the importance of tactility is remarkable. Another expression of tactility emerged again in an extraordinary context: an experimental film, made by a sighted university student majoring in cinema, whose subject was a young blind student. The subject was shown in a variety of situations, mainly blindness-linked, such as visiting a haptically-designed botanic garden, dancing and socializing and, relevantly, recognizing people by tactile exploration of their faces.