The development of technologies to support the inclusion of adults and children with visual disabilities is a big societal challenges for ICT Research. Vision is essential to build up important cognitive representations and early onset of blindness affects adversely psychomotor, spatial and social development. Moreover, early intervention is fundamental.
The ABBI project aims at:
- Developing a new set of devices to rehabilitate spatial cognition, mobility and social interaction
of children and adults with visual deficits through natural audio-motor and tactile-motor associations;
- Demonstrating and validating the technology through user, experimental and clinical studies.
The core idea of the project, based on a new understanding of the role of vision in the development of blind and normal children, is that audio feedback about body movements might help the blind child to build a sense of space. The main device to achieve this objective is the Audio Bracelet for Blind Interactions (ABBI) which will be positioned on the wrist of the child and/or of the people around. The generated sound (for which the position will be perceived aurally) will be triggered by the body movement and will give spatial information on where and how the movement is occurring. The use of ABBI will provide important information for posture control, motor coordination and spatial orientation reducing the risk of exclusion for disabled individuals.
Why it is innovative
Unlike most existing sensory substitution devices that are introduced in late childhood or adulthood, the approach proposed in ABBI does not require to learn new “languages” and it can be applied in the first years of life. Further development of the ABBI in this project will endow the device with the capacity to interact with other ABBIs and react in a smart manner to the context as well as additional assistive functions.