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Journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies / Revue de l'Association Internationale de Sémiotique

Editor-in-Chief: Danesi, Marcel

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Volume 2018, Issue 222


Semiotic resources for navigation: A video ethnographic study of blind people’s uses of the white cane and a guide dog for navigating in urban areas

Brian Due / Simon Lange
Published Online: 2018-04-25 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2016-0196


This paper describes two typical semiotic resources blind people use when navigating in urban areas. Everyone makes use of a variety of interpretive semiotic resources and senses when navigating. For sighted individuals, this especially involves sight. Blind people, however, must rely on everything else than sight, thereby substituting sight with other modalities and distributing the navigational work to other semiotic resources. Based on a large corpus of fieldwork among blind people in Denmark, undertaking observations, interviews, and video recordings of their naturally occurring practices of walking and navigating, this paper shows how two prototypical types of semiotic resources function as helpful cognitive extensions: the guide dog and the white cane. This paper takes its theoretical and methodological perspective from EMCA multimodal interaction analysis.

Keywords: ethnomethodology; multimodal analysis; blindness; navigation; mobility; video ethnography; semiotics


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About the article

Published Online: 2018-04-25

Published in Print: 2018-04-25

Citation Information: Semiotica, Volume 2018, Issue 222, Pages 287–312, ISSN (Online) 1613-3692, ISSN (Print) 0037-1998, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2016-0196.

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