Journal of Medical Systems

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 163–174 | Cite as

Sound graphs: A numerical data analysis method for the blind

  • Douglass L. Mansur
  • Merra M. Blattner
  • Kenneth I. Joy


A system for the creation of computer-generated sound patterns of two-dimensional line graphs is described. The objectives of the system are to provide the blind with a means of understanding line graphs in the holistic manner used by those with sight. A continuously varying pitch is used to represent motion in the x direction. To test the feasibility of using sound to represent graphs, a prototype system was developed and human factors experimenters were performed. Fourteen subjects were used to compare the tactile-graph methods normally used by the blind to these new sound graphs. It was discovered that mathematical concepts such as symmetry, monotonicity, and the slopes of lines could be determined quickly using sound. Even better performance may be expected with additional training. The flexibility, speed, cost-effectiveness, and greater measure of independence provided the blind or sight-impaired using these methods was demonstrated.


Data Analysis Numerical Data Human Factor Factor Experimenter Mathematical Concept 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Lederman, S. J., and Campbell, J. I., Tangible graphs for the blind.Human Factors 24(1):85–100, 1982.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Telesensory Systems, Inc., 3408 Hillview Avenue, Palo Alto, Calif., 1984.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Saslow, M. G., Frequency discrimination as measured by AB and ABX procedures.J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 41:220–221, 1967.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Yeung, E. S., Pattern recognition by audio representation.Anal. Chem. 52(7):120, 1980.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Roffler, S. K.,Sound localization in the vertical plane. Doctoral dissertation, University of Chicago, 1967.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Roffler, S. K., and Butler, R. A., Factors that influence the localization of sound in the vertical plane.J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 43:1255–1259, 1968.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Roffler, S. K., and Butler, R. A. Localization of tonal stimuli in the vertical plane.J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 43:1260–1266, 1968.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Mathews, M. V.,The Technology of Computer Music, M.I.T. Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1969, p. 178.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Stevens, S. S., Volkmann, J., and Newman, E. B., A scale for the measurement of the psychological magnitude of pitch.J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 8:185–190, 1937.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Alden, A. B., and Scadden, L. A.,Annual Report of Progress, Rehabilitation Engineering Center of the Smith-Kettlewell Institute of Visual Sciences Institutes of Medical Sciences, San Francisco, Auditory Oscilloscope Modification, March 1979, pp. 9–11.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Bly, S.,Sound and computer information presentation. Doctoral dissertation, University of California, Davis, 1982.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Yonezawa, Y., and Ito, K., Application of sound localizing effect to pattern display—Examination of display panel.Electron. Commun. Japan 60-C(10):98–106, 1977.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Bateman, W.,Introduction to Computer Music, Wiley, New York, 1980, pp. 64–69.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Shepard, R. N., Circularity of judgments of relative pitch.J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 36:2346–2353, 1964.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Douglass L. Mansur
    • 1
    • 2
  • Merra M. Blattner
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Kenneth I. Joy
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.From the Lawrence Livermore National LaboratoryLivermore
  2. 2.the University of California DavisDavis
  3. 3.the Department of Biomathematics, M.D. Anderson Cancer Research HospitalUniversity of Texas Medical CenterHouston

Personalised recommendations