Future Reflections Summer 1992, Vol. 11 No. 3


by Nancy Scott

     I am a person who happens to be totally blind. Because of my blindness, most people would not say that I "see" things, but these people do not know the many definitions of "sight". Check any dictionary and you will find that only a few definitions of "see" reflect visual meanings. If you "see" what I mean, for instance.

     Many people, though, keep insisting that I miss a lot by not having vision. This is true in some situations, but I would like to turn the tables. As an example, how many sighted people routinely pay attention to the exact moment when the brightness of a new day reaches their windows? In my house, sunrise never goes unnoticed. Thanks to a nifty and inexpensive piece of technology which is actually an advertising novelty, I herald the sunrise each morning in song.

     The nifty technology is a small, plastic disk with a light sensor on one side. In the winter I have a disk at both ends of my house on kitchen and bedroom window sills. When the day brightens enough at the respective window, the sensor sings a verse of "My Way" in electronic music similar to the musical greeting cards. In the summer, because the sun rises so early, I only use a light sensor in my kitchen window.

     I have enjoyed learning about light from my singing sensors. First, I learned that the brightness never hits both windows at the same time, although it is always within about two minutes from kitchen to bedroom. Also, sunrise occurs earlier as the year progresses. And the sun doesn't have to shine brightly, since the disks will sing on rainy days, too; although they usually sing later. Very bright flashes of lightning will activate the sensors--which might give me some good indication about when to unplug appliances in a summer storm.

     The pitch of the kitchen's "My Way" is a bit higher than the bedroom's. You could say that the "view" is in a different key. Of course, the real differences in pitch are determined by the luck of the manufacturer's draw. Either way, I can tell from anywhere in the house which window is receiving daylight just by the pitch. In the winter, I can be awakened by sunlight coming in the window (I could do this in the summer, too, if I wanted to wake up around six a.m.). Instead of having the sun in my eyes, I get its song. I never miss it. How many sighted people "see" like that?

     For further information or to order light sensors for your experiments in "seeing", contact Wessian Specialties, P. O. Box 20015, Cleveland, OH 44120-0015. These light sensors are also very useful in checking if room lights are on or off. So have fun hearing the light in your world, especially hearing the sunrise.