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The Science Journal of the Lander College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

Living with a sensory impairment is challenging, and those who have lost the use of one sensory modality need to find ways to deal with numerous problems encountered in daily life. When vision is lost, these challenges include navigation through space, finding objects, recognizing people or surroundings, reading or even communicating without access to nonverbal signs provided by others such as eye gaze or facial expressions. Nevertheless, the blind manage to function efficiently in their environment, often to a surprisingly high degree. The key to this amazing phenomenon lies in the plasticity of the brain and the connections it makes after loss of a sensory modality. Based off this theory is the idea that the brain’s plasticity allows for the effective use of sensory substitution devices (SSD). Sensory substitution refers to the transformation of the characteristics of one sensory modality into the stimuli of another modality. Primarily, this paper will attempt to answer the question of whether or not auditory to visual sensory substitution devices have the potential to be incorporated into long term rehabilitation efforts for the blind. In order to conclusively answer this question, this paper will discuss how effective these devices are in recreating the lost sense, in terms of acuity, pattern recognition, depth perception, SSD based movement, and sensory perceptions acquired from long term use of SSD’s by blind patients.

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