Title: Exploring invisibility through multisensory spatial research methods
Authors: Mourão Pereira, Carlos ×
Heitor, Teresa
Heylighen, Ann #
Issue Date: Feb-2017
Publisher: KU Leuven - NQRL
Host Document: Quality and Reflexivity in Qualitative Inquiry. European Congress of Qualitative Inquiry Proceedings 2017 pages:9-18
Conference: European Congress of Qualitative Inquiry edition:1 location:Leuven date:7-10 February 2017
Abstract: In this paper we present research methods usable in the absence of sight with the objective of exploring techniques that can allow spatial knowledge beyond vision. There is a visual dominance in contemporary built spaces neglecting invisibility, i.e. the multisensory integration of non-visual modalities. An example of this ocularcentrism can be found in the visible/invisible duality. Visibility is often thought of as a quality of the visible whereas invisibility is often neglected. By contrast we propose to re-think invisibility as a quality, arguing that its multi-sensory integration is of main importance given that visibility is temporary, which contrasts with the persistence of invisibility in human perception. Therefore, we explore invisibility based on qualitative research methods, developed by the first author in the condition of full blindness. We identified two useful tools to explore the space of invisibility: the use of interlocking building blocks in user-centred design discussion groups, and the use of elicitation models in post-walkthrough interviews. In spatial qualitative research, user-centred design can be interesting for the researcher’s self-observation during the design process, exploring pertinent questions and feedback from diverse research participants. Therefore an important inclusive tool/material can be the interlocking building blocks system of Lego, allowing through their modularity and adaptability to build and rebuild models during creative discussions. In order to increase usability we present a prototype of an interlocking building block system with three main advantages: compatibility with conventional architectural scales, increased haptic comfort in a fast and continuous task of recognisability by blind people, and the absence of logos providing a material/tool with neutrality without imposing commercial references. Walkthrough interviews are important to obtain a holistic understanding of the interaction between the interviewee and the space being used. However, often researchers find problems with spatial restrictions to develop an audio or visual recorded interview. In order to avoid these difficulties we developed a post-walkthrough interview, consisting of a spatial experience with participants without recordings, just listening to their comments and observing how they interact with the space, followed afterwards by a video recorded interview in a different space using elicitation models. The presented qualitative research methods and tools can be useful to researchers in the conditions of blindness and low vision. Moreover they can be used by fully sighted researchers to explore multi-sensory research methods as deeper qualitative approaches to the space of invisibility.
ISBN: 9789067841979
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IC
Appears in Collections:Architecture and Design (+)
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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