The Ability to Sense Objects in Space by Children Who are Blind through Non Tactual Means

By Yiannoula Andreou and Steve McCall.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

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

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 15, Issue 5, pp.119-126. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 582.694KB).

Dr. Yiannoula Andreou

PhD Student, School of Education, University of Birmingham, Cyprus

Yiannoula Andreou currently is working towards the completion of her PhD (University of Birmingham, U.K.). Her research interests include issues of: a) children with visual impairments and blindness b) children with learning disabilities and their education.She has published Greek and international articles.

Dr. Steve McCall

Senior Lecturer in Education, Visual Impairment, School of Education, University of Birmingham, UK

His research interests include the delivery of education for blind children in developing countries, literacy through Braille and Moon, literacy for children with a visual impairment and additional disabilities.

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