Abstract

BlindAid, a virtual environment system developed in part for orientation and mobility training of newly, adventitiously, and congenitally blind persons, allows interaction with different virtual structures and objects via auditory and haptic feedback. This research examined whether and how the system might help people who are blind develop orientation and mobility skills within a traditional rehabilitation program. Nine clients at The Carroll Center for the Blind (Newton, MA) explored VEs and performed virtual orientation tasks in addition to their traditional orientation and mobility training. The virtual training gave the participants additional time to learn systematic exploration and orientation strategies and their performance was evaluated using qualitative and quantitative methods. The findings supply strong evidence that practicing with the BlindAid system does enhance traditional orientation and mobility training in these areas.

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