A number of sources (Kells, 2001, Lopes 2000) report that people who are blind are able to sense objects in the environment without direct physical contact. The main aim of this study is to investigate the phenomenon of obstacle awareness in children who are blind by analyzing their explanations. A qualitative approach to the problem was adopted involving semi-structured and unstructured interviews. Interviews were conducted with twelve blind students, who were aged 10 to 15 years. Ten children were congenitally blind and two adventitiously blind. An interesting outcome of the fieldwork was the richness of children’s own descriptions of their obstacle-detection experience. Commonalities were found in children’s accounts, and three key findings were that: 1. Children in the study confirmed with clarity their ability to sense objects in their environment, 2. they often described this sense as a special ability that blind people have, and 3. they often linked their ability to locate objects with auditory cues. Previous research has suggested that this “sense” is indeed linked with the ability to detect obstacles and objects in space through subtle auditory clues. The present findings suggest that the personal narratives of children who are blind can help in the triangulation and understanding of findings obtained by traditional experimental approaches.
|Keywords:||Obstacle Awareness, Auditory Sense, Qualitative Approach, Children Who are Blind|
PhD Student, School of Education, University of Birmingham, Cyprus
Senior Lecturer in Education, Visual Impairment, School of Education, University of Birmingham, UK
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