The Use of a Tactile-Vision Sensory Substitution System as an Augmentative Tool for Individuals With Visual ImpairmentsBy Williams, Michael D.; Ray, Christopher T.; Griffith, Jennifer; De l'Aune, William; Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, Vol. 105, No. 1,, pp. 45-50
Publication Date: January 2011
Study explored the effectiveness of a tactile-vision sensory substitution system as an augmentative tool to aid individuals with visual impairments in the acquisition of environmental information. The device examined was the BrainPort, which consists of a postage stamp sized electrotactile electrode array for the tongue, a control box, a digital video camera, and a handheld controller for zoom and contrast inversion. BrainPort technology converts images captured by the camera and presents this information to the brain via electrical stimulation of the tongue through the electrotactile electrode array, augmenting normal sensory channels with this additional spatial information. The captured images are converted into a two-dimensional representation and displayed on the electrode array in much the same way as a black and white image is presented on a computer monitor, with each of the array’s 625 electrotactile points serving essentially as a pixel on a screen. The BrainPort was tested with 30 community dwelling adults aged 32 to 71 years with total or near-total blindness, 16 of whom were women. Three randomized trials of shape recognition tasks were conducted with 5 distinct target shapes at the distances of 1, 2, and 3 meters in 13 presentations for each trial, for a total of 39 presentations. All participants clearly demonstrated an enhanced ability to identify target shapes accurately in all the trials and at all 3 distances that far exceeded the results that would be expected purely on chance. Study limitations and implications for future research are discussed.
Assistive Products Discussed: WICAB BRAINPORT
Published by: AFB Press (Website:http://www.afb.org/Section.asp?SectionID=46)
American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) (Web Site: http://www.afb.org )