Video-Mediated Interaction and blindness: Preliminary observations on the accomplishment of organizing a face-to-screenface formation without sight

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Video-Mediated Interaction and blindness: Preliminary observations on the accomplishment of organizing a face-to-screenface formation without sight

There is a morality of the face and the gaze in general. The human face "orders and ordains" us (Levinas, 1985). It calls the subject into "giving and serving". Spatial organizations in Face-Formations have been shown focusing on the body, head, gaze. Scheflen: Human territories (1976). Kendon: F-formations (1976). Goodwin: Gaze direction / mutual orientation (1979). Goffman: Face-work (1955). Hall: Proxemics (1976). Goodwin: Contextual configurations (2007). Mondada: Interactional spaces (2009). But what if a participant is a visually impaired person (VIP)? VIP’s have heightened awareness of otherwise assumed practices that underlies social interaction. They must orient towards the visual perception of their seeing coparticipants, e.g., the importance of visual access to face in interaction. This requires additional interactional work (Garfinkel [1948] 2006 – on “troubled identities”). In this paper we study video mediated interaction between sighted and VIP. The VIP is born blind software developer working from home. He has an online meeting with co-workers. We study the opening of the meeting. The analysis shows how the VIP focus on interactional principles. Pre-topic interaction, greetings, courtesy, referential talk. But that the seeing co-worker focus on establishing face-to-screenface access prior to courtesy principles. When there is a possibility for visual access this is preferred. The face is prioritized as a precondition for co-presence. Simmel states: “the least diversion from this [eye contact], the slightest glance to the side, fully destroys the singularity of this bond.” (Simmel 2009: 571; cf. Rossano, 2012). Head and face orientation is a moral norm that is accountable when missing. Achieving a talking head configuration is a prerequisite for opening video-mediated interaction with blind people.

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Original languageEnglish
Publication date25 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2021
EventExploring Social Interaction (ESI)
: MOVIN 25 years
- Online, Denmark
Duration: 23 Jun 202125 Jun 2021


ConferenceExploring Social Interaction (ESI)
Internet address

ID: 274872493