Emotional displays when blind people encounter problems with new technology

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People with visual impairment (PVI) increasingly use mainstream technologies, such as smart phones and digital assistants featuring AI in their everyday lives. The PVI’s limited visual access can prove challenging when
learning to use these technologies. This paper explores how PVI manage their conduct when they encounter problems with using new technology and how this leads to e.g. frustration, anger or self-consciousness, observable in interaction as emotional displays (Local & Walker, 2008; Ruusuvuori, 2012). The paper examines the interaction between the researcher, the AI, and the PVI in the face of two types of problems: when things go wrong due to faulty technology and when things go wrong due to the participants inability to utilize the technology correctly due to their visual impairment. Data are video ethnographic recordings of people born with or with late blindness who are testing or using the Google Home assistant in their homes and the Seeing AI app for shopping for the first time. Participants are equipped with the new technologies but their use of it is naturally organized in situ, producing the data as semi-experimental. The users can be considered ‘atypical’ not just due to their visually impairment but also due to their novices status with respect to technology used, leading to recurrent trial-and-error sequences. By applying EMCA (Streeck et al., 2011) to video recordings of these settings we explore PVI’s practices for managing conduct in the face of challenges with the use of new tech as well as
their multimodally displayed emotional stance when partaking in these complex activities. This paper discusses the methodological consequences of designing research projects that put participants “on the spot” in new types of situations affects and contributes methodologically with reflections on and suggestions for conducting video ethnographic studies of atypical populations and use of new tech. The paper also contributes to EMCA research into emotional displays as observable in interaction.
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Original languageEnglish
Publication date2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Event18th International Pragmatics Conference - Brussels, Brussels, Belgium
Duration: 9 Jul 202314 Jul 2023
Conference number: 18


Conference18th International Pragmatics Conference
Internet address

ID: 360456971