Blog Post #5 – Inquiry Research Round #3 – What are the impacts of being born blind compare to losing sight later on in life?

Hello everyone!

My inquiry question is: What are the impacts of being born blind compared to losing sight later on in life?

In my third round of research, I will look into the different learning styles in both those who are born blind and for those who lose sight later in life. As well as discrimmination faced for their disability (ableism). 

Different Learning Styles:

As children are growing up blind, they are faced with the same development tasks as those who have sight, but the route to accomplish these tasks will be different due to the absence of vision. Children born blind miss the opportunity of nonverbal interaction as they do not learn the signs of recognition, discrimmination, and evaluation that is normally interpreted through visual responses. They also have limited opportunities to explore their environments as many objects can be out of reach and may not produce sound. Those with visual impairments need assistance to identify objects, both tactically and verbally. They need more assistance to understand how to handle an object, naming the object, and learning the functions and characteristics of the object to be able to recognize it in the future. However, for those who are sighted,  there is a reduction in needing assistance as the child can learn to explore and interact with the environment much more easily [1]. A characteristic shared by others with visual impairments is that they have limited ability to incidentally learn from their environment [2].

For those with visual impairments, they must be trained in the use of a number of adaptive methods, equipment, and devices that are collectively referred to as assistive technology [2]. Some of the technology allows access to information presented on to a computer [2]. Computer hardware and software are constantly advancing to be better and to allow for more access to information [2]. 

Some computer adaptation examples those who are blind use:

  • Braille translation software and equipment: This converts print into braille and vice versa [2]
  • Screen reader: This is able to convert text onto computer to braille by an output device that is connected to the computer [2]
  • Screen enlargement software: increases the size of text and images on a computer screen [2]
  • Refreshable Braille display: converts text on computer to braille by an output device connected to the computer [2]

Adaptive device examples: 

  • Braille notetakers: This is an electronic note-taking device which can connect to a printer or a braille embosser that will either produce a printed or braille copy [2]
  • Optical character reader: It converts printed text into files on a computer which can be translated into audible speech or Braille [2]
  • Electronic braille writer: It produces braille and translates the braille into synthetic speech or text [2]

Many individuals who are blind use Braille. Braille is a tactile method of reading and writing [3]. The system’s basic “braille cell” consists of six dots that are grouped in two vertical columns of three dots each [3]. The dots in the first column will be numbered from one to through three and the second column will be through four to six [3]. From these basic cells, sixty-three dot patterns can be formed [3]. And these will be easily identified by touch! [3]

 

For those in school, students can use a combination of methods to learn and study such as using tape-recorded books and lectures [4]. As well as using talking calculators, paperless Braille machines, paperless Braille computer terminals, Braille printers, and computer terminals with speech input [4].

While I was researching, I came upon an article that talks about a study done to people who are born blind compared to people who can see. People who are born blind appear to be able to solve math problems using the help of visual areas of their brain [5]. A study was done to those born blind that when participants are asked to solve algebra problems, the visual cortex became active [5]. However, when doing the same algebra problems with sighted people, visual areas of the brain showed no increase in activity [5].

“That really suggests that yes, blind individuals appear to be doing math with their visual cortex,” Bedny says.

Discrimmination faced for their disability (ableism):

Many individuals think that a blind person will always be less effective and that they must have ‘luck’ in order to find an employer ‘who will take a chance’ in hiring them [6]. A survey was done to those who are blind and 82% said they do not think those with vision loss have the same opportunities as their sighted peers. However, when it comes to employment, 25% reported they experience active discrimmination [7]. People with visual impairments want no different from those who can see [6]. They want to have a happy childhood, good education, fulfilling job, family, and to enjoy leisure and social activities [6]. Those with visual impairments want respect and above all full recognition that they are citizens that also have full human and civil rights [6]. 

Thank you for reading my third round of research! 

References:

https://scholarworks.wmich.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2162&context=dissertations [1]

http://www.projectidealonline.org/v/visual-impairments/ [2]

 http://www.brailleliteracycanada.ca/en/what-is-braille [3]

https://sites.allegheny.edu/disabilityservices/students-who-are-blind-or-have-a-visual-impairment/ [4]

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/09/19/494593600/when-blind-people-do-algebra-the-brain-s-visual-areas-light-up [5]

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1705870/ [6]

https://www.thejournal.ie/readme/discrimination-only-16-of-people-who-are-blind-or-vision-impaired-in-ireland-are-working-3421212-Jun2017/ [7]

Photos:

First image: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/09/19/494593600/when-blind-people-do-algebra-the-brain-s-visual-areas-light-up

Second image: https://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/05/opinion/sunday/why-do-we-fear-the-blind.html

Third, fourth, fifth image: http://www.brailleliteracycanada.ca/en/what-is-braille

4 Replies to “Blog Post #5 – Inquiry Research Round #3 – What are the impacts of being born blind compare to losing sight later on in life?”

  1. Hi Karina,
    Amazing round of research! I like the comparison you made between the two. It is devasting to see the percentages of discrimination that they face because of their disabilities they have despite the special, unique talents and skills they are born with 🙁

    Overall, great job on the round of research. It was very informative. I gained a lot more knowledge about the topic.
    – Lokshana 🙂

  2. Hi Karina!
    I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts throughout the entire inquiry! You explain everything very well and provide interesting pieces of information. I found it amazing that visually impaired people would be solving math problems using their visual cortex! Just curious – for blind people, does this area of the brain normally only get activated when solving problems related to math or critical thinking?
    Amazing work!
    Rasee

  3. Hi Karina,

    I’m happy to see the results of your project! You did a good job explaining everything and I enjoyed learning about the difference between the people born blind and the people who lose their sight later in life.

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