Vision versus hearing, which one is dominant?

Dear followers,

As the academic year comes to an end, so does our blog adventure.

As a goodbye gift, we would like to give you a statement paper with the ideas and insight that we have gathered throughout the year. You can find it here: Vision versus hearing, which one is dominant?

We hope this will help you to understand our point of view with regard to the topics that are discussed in this blog and help you form your own. We will still be available to reply on your comments.

Enjoy and thank you for following us.

Koenraad and Heleen

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Malleable brain

Our brain is a strange thing. It still has a lot of secrets for us, but step by step it we are trying to unravel it. This post is about how the brain of a sighted person works vs the brain of a blind person, which show that our brain is malleable.

When sighted people see an outline or silhouette of a person, areas of the cerebral cortex become active. (the cerebral cortex is specialized in making sense of visual stimuli ) The extrastriate body area, seems particularly interested in people: It responds more strongly to images of the human body than to other types of objects.

According to a research that was done by  Ella Striem-Amit and Amir Amedi of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the same areas in the brain are working when a blind person recognizes another person using sound as stimulation.

Another example of why the brain is malleable is that when blind people learn braille, their visual cortex becomes sensitive to touch instead vision. The input to the different parts of the brain can change, but the function of that part of the brain will stay the same.

 

Heleen

Sources

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2014/03/blind-brain-sound/

Orion TI-84 plus

TI-84-Plus_graph_buttons

Graphing calculators are important for students who are in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Those calculators are easy to use for ‘normal’ students, but not for students who are blind or visually impaired.

That is why Texas Instruments teamed up with Orbit research to develop the Orion TI-84 Plus. This device represents the breakthrough in STEM education for blind and visually impaired students. By making a basic tool accessible, blind or visually impaired students will be more encouraged to choose for STEM education. Making it more inclusive and giving them more opportunities later in life.

I think this is a huge step forward in including people with disabilities in the classroom. Do you think that this device will lead to more blind or visually impaired students choosing for STEM education?

Heleen

Sources

http://www.aph.org/pr/20130226Talking-Graphing-Calculator.html

Cap collection

The Belgian guide dog federation came up with an idea to raise money for guide dogs while at the same time reducing the pile of waste.

Foto pup met nieuw jasje

It is called ‘dopjesactie’, literally translated it means ‘cap action’. They encourage people to collect the caps from plastic bottles. These caps will be sold to recycling companies who recycle it to make plastic pallets.

I think this is a good idea that is easy to implement by everyone. It does not require a lot of effort since the waste already has to be sorted in Belgium and it is something that everyone can do.

If you want to join them, you can find more information on their (Dutch or French) website.

Heleen

Sources:

http://www.dopjesactie.be/index.php/nl/

http://geleidehond.be

Dans le noir?

‘Dans le noir’ is the name of a restaurant in Paris. Now you probably wonder what food has in common with our topic. I am not going to give you a review about this restaurant, since we haven’t visited it , but I am going to talk about the concept of this restaurant.

On the website, they describe their restaurant as

“A diving trip into your imagination to “reset” your senses and meet other people. A unique experience that our divisions Ethik Event and Ethik Management try to share with large corporations or institutions in order to develop a positive perception of the difference and to improve the integration of disabilities at work.”

The visitors are having dinner in the pitch dark, guided and served by blind guides. The goal of this experience is to take away the vision of the visitors and let them use their other senses to experience the world of the blind people. To enhance the experience, they let the visitors choose from a surprise menu. This means that they don’t know what they will get. After the dinner, the detailed menu is revealed, which can be a real surprise for some of the visitors.

I really like the concept of this restaurant. It does not only raise awareness for the blind people but it also employs them in a way so that the visitors are dependent on them.

What do you think about this concept? Will you visit this restaurant if you have the chance? Do you think it will change the view of their visitors?

Heleen

Sources

http://www.danslenoir.com/

Raise awareness for blind people

The Norwegian Association of the Blind created some advertisement videos to create more awareness for blind people. They have two types of videos. One type is about the guided dog and the other type is about hiring blind people. In total there are six different advertisements.

Guided dog

Hiring blind people

Do you think that they also should do something like this in Belgium or your own country? Do you have any other examples of creating awareness for blind people? With the upcoming federal elections in Belgium and the European elections in May, do you think that the different parties should include ‘disabled people’ in their agenda?

Heleen

The other advertisements.

Braille e-book

Nowadays, you will think that everyone has easy access to a good book. But you’re wrong, for a part of the population, it is not so easy to find a book to read, let alone to find a good book. For blind people who read in braille, the amount of books translated in braille is very limited. With the technology these days you will think that it should not be difficult to make a braille e-reader, that translates books very easily, when they already have braille smartphones. The problem is not that nobody thought of it, on the contrary, you can find some concepts, that date back from 2009, here and here.

So why can’t we find the braille e-readers yet? Because it is not profitable enough for companies to make it.

Do you think that there should be more invested in the development of such an e-reader? Will you sponsor someone who wants to buy such a device?

Heleen

Sources: http://www.yankodesign.com/2009/04/17/braille-e-book/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2012/08/18/this-digital-age-why-isnt-it-a-paradise-for-braille-readers/

http://www.tuvie.com/haptic-reader-helps-blind-people-reading-non-braille-books/