How the perception of the blind or visually impaired differs from that of the sighted.
Article 1: Auditory Substitution of Vision: Pattern Recognition by the Blind
The goal of the experiment in this study was to investigate whether or not there was an effect on the performance of recognizing visual patterns using auditory substitution by the early blind. The reason for the study is because of the development of the graphical user interface (GUI) in information technology, relating to computer systems. The GUI system is great for sighted people as it uses things such as icons, multiple windows, and a mouse based command structure; however this system isn’t so great for the visually impaired. The experimenters adapted a PSVA (Prosthesis Substituting Vision by Audition) to be used with a PC where a small screen area centered on the mouse pointer was translated into sounds to be interpreted by the user.
The subjects in the study consisted of twelve male volunteers, six early blind and six sighted. The subjects were given a pure tone audiometry test to assess their auditory perception. In this experiment a graphics camera was adapted to the usual PSVA setup and an image was displayed within an area of 64x64 pixels at the center of a computer screen, the entire exploration area on the computer screen was 300x300 pixels. The artificial retina consisted of a square of 64x64 pixels that the pointer, based on the position of the pen location on the graphics pad, was centered on. During the use of the graphics tablet a part of the artificial retina would intercept a portion of the displayed pattern, the related pixels were then translated into sounds heard through headphones being worn by the participants. For training there was a program with 4 sets of 3 sessions in order to familiarize the subjects with the PSVA system. The subject’s performance was gauged on both accuracy and processing time needed to answer and the assessment procedure was the same as in the original PSVA study.
The subjects found that the hand held approach made possible by using the graphics tablet was easier than the head scanning method that was used in the previous study. While using the graphics tablet the subjects strategies for pattern exploration was very systematic. They would first try to globally recognize various sounds that relate to different patterns. Then they would choose a starting line and use slight and slow movements to figure out spatial organization of the environment on the PC screen. It was found using an analysis of variance that the blind subjects performed significantly better than the sighted subjects. It was also found that the processing time of the blind group was significantly faster than that of the sighted group.
Article 2: To be or refuse to be? Exploring the concept of leisure as resistance for young people who are visually impaired.
In this study the researchers were interested in exploring how blind young people resist the expectations of others or even themselves in reference to their leisure activities. The researchers wanted to know if the leisure activities of blind people are used to fight the predisposed idea of what blind people are or are not capable of, and how those activities are used to redefine the predisposed ideas. They seek to understand more about whether or not blind people are really helpless or relatively powerless and how their leisure activities relate to such ideas.
The participants for this study were young people between ages 17 and 22 and were had been legally blind from birth; three individuals in the study had residual vision. The participants were interviewed and asked about their leisure activities, the study defined leisure as the experience of total engagement within free time activity. During these interviews the interviewer intentionally did not bring up the topic of disability because they wanted the participants to give their own accounts based...
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