Sensory substitution devices (SSDs) have been developed with the ultimate purpose of supporting sensory deprived individuals in their daily activities. However, more than forty years after their first appearance in the scientific literature, SSDs still remain more common in research laboratories than in the daily life of people with sensory deprivation. Here, we seek to identify the reasons behind the limited diffusion of SSDs among the blind community by discussing the ergonomic, neurocognitive and psychosocial issues potentially associated with the use of these systems. We stress that these issues should be considered together when developing future devices or improving existing ones. We provide some examples of how to achieve this by adopting a multidisciplinary and participatory approach. These efforts would contribute not solely to address fundamental theoretical research questions, but also to better understand the everyday needs of blind people and eventually promote the use of SSDs outside laboratories.
CapelleC.FrereB.BolleB.TrullemansC.VeraartC. (1992). Real time auditory coding of visual information in: Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society 1992 14th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Paris France Vol. 4 pp. 1660–1661.
A real-time experimental prototype for enhancement of vision rehabilitation using auditory substitutionIEEE Trans. Biomed. Eng.451279–1293.
Functional cerebral reorganization for auditory spatial processing and auditory substitution of vision in early blind subjectsCereb. Cort.17457–465.
Functional specialization for auditory-spatial processing in the occipital cortex of congenitally blind humansProc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA1084435–4440.
CostkyanG. (2002). I have no words and I must design: toward a critical vocabulary for games in: Computer Games and Digital Cultures Conference Proceedings F. Mäyrä (Ed.) pp. 9–33 Studies in Information Sciences Tampere University Press Tampere FL USA.
Del Marie RysavyS.SalesG. C. (1991).
Cooperative learning in computer-based instructionEduc. Technol. Res. Dev.3970–79.
GiudiceN. A.LeggeG. E. (2008).
Blind navigation and the role of technology in:
Engineering Handbook of Smart Technology for Aging Disability and IndependenceHelalA.MokhtariM.AbdulrazakB. (Eds) pp.
479–500. John Wiley and SonsHoboken, NJ, USA.
GiudiceN. A.WaltonL. A.WorboysM. (2010). The informatics of indoor and outdoor space: a research agenda in: Proceedings of the 2nd ACM SIGSPATIAL International Workshop on Indoor Spatial Awareness ACM San Jose CA USA pp. 47–53.
GolledgeR. G.MarstonJ. R.LoomisJ. M.KlatzkyR. L. (2004).
Stated preference for components of a personal guidance system for nonvisual navigationJ. Vis. Impair. Blind.98135–147.
LahavO.SchloerbD. W.SrinivasanM. A. (2012).
Newly blind persons using virtual environment system in a traditional orientation and mobility rehabilitation program: a case studyDisabil. Rehabil. Assist. Technol.7420–435.
Sensory substitution: limits and perspectives in:
Touching for KnowingHatwellY.StreriA.GentazE. (Eds) pp.
275–292. John BenjaminsAmsterdam, Netherlands.
Cross-sensory transfer of sensory-motor information: visuomotor learning affects performance on an audiomotor task, using sensory-substitutionSci. Rep.2949. DOI:10.1038/srep00949.
LoomisJ. M.GolledgeR. D.KlatzkyR. L. (2001).
GPS-based navigation systems for the visually impaired in:
Fundamentals of Wearable Computers and Augmented RealityBarfieldW.CaudellT. (Eds) pp.
429–446. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates PublishersMahwah, NJ, USA.
LoomisJ. M.KlatzkyR. L.GiudiceN. A. (2012).
Sensory substitution of vision: importance of perceptual and cognitive processing in:
Assistive Technology for Blindness and Low VisionManduchiR.KurniawanS. (Eds) pp.
162–191. CRC PressBoca Raton, FL, USA.
MaidenbaumS. (2012). Sight from the depths — Using distance information to help the blind and as a tool for exploring neurobiological questions in real and virtual environments PhD thesis Hebrew University of Jerusalem Press Jerusalem pp. 35–42.
MaidenbaumS.Levy-TzedekS.ChebatD. R.AmediA. (2013).
Increasing accessibility to the blind of virtual environments, using a virtual mobility aid based on the “EyeCane”: feasibility studyPloS One8e72555. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0072555.
ManduchiR.KurniawanS. (2010). Watch your head mind your step: mobility-related accidents experienced by people with visual impairment Tech. Rep. Department of Computer Engineering University of California Santa Cruz CA USA.
MarzanoR. J. (1992).
A Different Kind of Classroom: Teaching with Dimensions of Learning. Association for Supervision and Curriculum DevelopmentAlexandria, VA, USA.
McCombsB. L.WhislerJ. S. (1997).
The Learner-Centered Classroom and School: Strategies for Increasing Student Motivation and Achievement. The Jossey-Bass Education Series, Jossey-Bass Inc.Publishers, San Francisco, CA, USA.
ProulxM. J.StoerigP.LudowigE.KnollI. (2008).
Seeing ‘where’ through the ears: effects of learning-by-doing and long-term sensory deprivation on localization based on image-to-sound substitutionPloS One3e1840. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0001840.
RenierL.CollignonO.PoirierC.TranduyD.VanlierdeA.BolA.VeraartC.De VolderA. G. (2005).
Cross-modal activation of visual cortex during depth perception using auditory substitution of visionNeuroimage26573–580.
RiehleT. H.LichterP.GiudiceN. A. (2008). An indoor navigation system to support the visually impaired in: Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society 2008 EMBS 2008. 30th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Vancouver Canada pp. 4435–4438.
RizzoJ. F.IIISneboldL.KenneyM. (2007).
Development of a visual prosthesis in:
Visual Prosthesis and Ophthalmic DevicesTombran-TinkJ.BarnstableC. J.RizzoJ. F. (Eds) pp.
71–93. Humana PressTotowa, NJ, USA.
TjanB. S.BeckmannP. J.RoyR.GiudiceN.LeggeG. E. (2005). Digital sign system for indoor wayfinding for the visually impaired in: IEEE Computer Society Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition-Workshops 2005 CVPR Workshops pp. 30.
Wearable assistive devices for the blind in:
Wearable and Autonomous Biomedical Devices and Systems for Smart EnvironmentLay-EkuakilleA. (Ed.) pp.
331–349. SpringerBerlin, Heidelberg, Germany.
WalkerB. N.StanleyR. M.IyerN.SimpsonB. D.BrungartD. S. (2005). Evaluation of bone-conduction headsets for use in multitalker communication environments in: Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 49th Annual Meeting pp. 1615–1619 Orlando FL USA.
WilsonJ. R. (2000).
Fundamentals of ergonomics in theory and practiceAppl. Ergon.31557–567.