My mouth dropped open in disbelief when a friend, Grace, told me about an app designed to help the blind stop rocking back and forth, something that many blind people do.
I missed this bit of drama when it was going around the Twittersphere, but I’m of two minds on this.
On one hand, as blind kids turn into blind adults, they will have to learn, for better or for worse, to be somewhat socially acceptable. If you’re sitting in a business meeting and you’re rocking or engaging in other mannerisms like they’re going out of style, that’s going to cast doubt on you as a professional. It’s not fair, and there’s some double standard, (after all, nobody thinks twice if non-disabled people fidget in any way), but unfortunately it’s the reality.
It’s also possible that using an app for this kind of conditioning would be better than having an adult getting onto the child all the time, which can create negative associations for the child.
On the other hand, this could potentially be used in tandom with punishment, which I think would be very bad. for instance, school resource teachers or parents could insist that the child install the app, or pre-install it before handing over the device, and tie punishment or reward to the graph. I’d be OK with maybe tying reward to it, (say, the app gets installed, a baseline of behavior is established, and if/when there’s improvement, the child gets some sort of reward).
That kind of thing takes a lot of patience though, and I think there’s too much room for misuse. I think children need to be encouraged and taught what’s socially acceptable behavior, as it were, due to the consequences I mentioned above. But I’ve also seen this kind of training go horribly wrong, and I’ve also seen blind friends as children rebel and do whatever thing educators or parents are trying to correct even more just to be rebellious.
No, I don’t really think this app has a “big future” as its description suggests. If you have to proclaim you’ve got a big future ahead of you, you’re telling yourself that more than anyone else, and it’s obvious.