We have had a fascinating few weeks. One mother mentioned how her child preferred to watch family films on the computer on thumbnails the size of postage stamps, rather than full screen. This made us think about others who had shared similar observations of their children, who all had reduced visual attention due to their simultanagnosia. We have written about this in the new section The Visual Acuity / Simultanagnosia Problem.
The same mother came back confused however, having initially watched the films on thumbnails, now her child was watching them on full screen. We asked CVI Scotland Associate Nicola McDowell, who has simultanagnosia, to conduct an experiment for us. We sent her a short film with subtitles, and asked her to first watch it on her smart phone, then on a tablet, then full screen (either computer or television). Nicola watched it on a reduced screen on her phone, so the image would have been less than 2" wide, however, as she wrote...
Normally when watching something on the TV with subtitles, I find that I can't keep up at all. My eyes tend to dart all around the screen trying to pick up different elements of the picture. So I can either read the words or watch the image, but not both... but when watching it on the small screen on the phone, I didn't feel the pressure to frantically try and see everything... The picture wasn't overly clear, but it was enough for me to see the main elements and know what it was about.
I then watched it on my iPad (which is a 12"), again not in full screen. This time, because I knew what was coming throughout the clip, I was able to just relax and watch it and not frantically scan... The picture was clearer than on the phone, so I could appreciate the images better. It was like the preview helped me to relax and watch it without being affected by the visual issues.
I then watched it on my computer screen and straight away found it too big.
So I think watching it on the phone first allowed me to get a better overall picture of it and understand it better, so that when I watched it on the medium sized screen I could relax and take more of it in.
We went back to the original mother, knowing her child was struggling with reading, and knowing the words were being presented in a large font size, and asked whether seeing words in a much smaller size might help, and it did! Many parents have shared how their child loves watching things on their phones - maybe smaller is better, and less is more! We are going to look at this further, and will share what we find out. If you have had a similar experience, maybe we could share it - email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
In Nicola's description (above) she notes 'My eyes tend to dart all around the screen trying to pick up different elements of the picture'. This is likely to be the subjective experience of Apraxia of Gaze and is one of three key features of dorsal stream dysfunction, with simultanagnosia and optic ataxia. A paper was published this month in the Vision Development and Rehabilitation Journal explaining the condition, with a range of different case studies, designed to build understanding of this complex condition. The case studies show both how varied each affected person is, and that with good understanding, there is a great deal that can be achieved. One of the people described is Tom, age seventeen. By reducing all noise and visual stimulations, and placing him in an orange tent, Tom "lifted his head to look around and laughed with pleasure, something he had never done before." Less is more.
Finally, we have been introduced to a remarkable artist called Steve Hollingsworth, who has found a way to connect with profoundly disabled people through his bespoke art projects. Steve learns to communicate with the person, and then constructs projects around their likes and preferences. The final pieces are so engaging that individuals are motivated in a way never previously seen. Ben, who has cerebral palsy and is quadriplegic, learnt to move and use his right hand to operate the Sensorium Steve constructed for him. The films in our short introduction to Steve's work are moving, but also send a very powerful message about not forgetting the potential in everyone.
The CVI Scotland Team
Steve Hollingsworth's work features in our new Resources section. All additions and changes on the website are communicated through our Updates section on the homepage, and also via Twitter @scotlandcvi and our new CVI Scotland Facebook page. Copies of previous newsletters can be found in the News and Blogs sections on the website.
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At CVI Scotland we are devoted to helping people understand cerebral visual impairments, and together working towards developing the understanding of this complex condition.