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Sensory Substitution Training for users who are blind with Dynamic stimuli, Games and virtual environments

Shachar Maidenbaum

The 17th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility - Student Research Competition (ASSETS-SRC 2015)
Lisbon, Portugal, October 26-28, 2015


Sensory Substitution Devices (SSDs) offer people who are blind access to visual information via other senses. One of the main bottlenecks to widespread adoption of sensory substitution is the difficulty of learning to use these devices – both in terms of mastering the device and in terms of learning to properly interpret visual information. We have recently upgraded the training offered in our lab to congenitally blind EyeMusic users from a static training paradigm to a dynamic gamified one in an attempt to address both challenges mentioned above. This offered us a unique opportunity to explore the effect of this change on both the users and on their sighted personal instructors. We explored users' ability to play simple dynamic games and learn visual principles, and explored the feelings and opinions of both the users and instructors during the shift. We found that all users were able to successfully complete these tasks utilizing visual principles such as depth-size, reported a high level of enjoyment and satisfaction for them, viewed these sessions as more effective and highlighted their feelings of a higher sense of independence and control. The instructors were enthusiastic as well, mirrored the users' answers and especially highlighted the flexibility advantage.

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