Improving Movement Skills fo Visually-Impaired Children Using Interactive Sounds

Project Details


In collaboration with the charity Blind Children UK (Northern Ireland) part of Guide Dogs for the Blind Northern Ireland, this project will investigate the potential of interacting with sounds for improving movement skills in visually-impaired children. Within the School of Psychology’s Movement Innovation Lab, a system has been developed for using motion capture technology to trigger sounds with body movements, a technique called ‘movement sonification’. Discussion and collaboration with Blind Children UK (NI) has identified the strong potential of sonification to improve movement skills in visually-impaired children (‘movement habilitation’), which we intend to investigate. Firstly, through consultation and fieldwork with Blind Children UK (NI), existing research and challenges in movement habilitation will be reviewed. From this, a set of key habilitation challenges that impact on visually-impaired people’s quality of life will be identified and children’s performance at these will be assessed using motion capture. To address these challenges, we will design sonification interactions that encourage children to learn to control actions and orientation through active exploration of how the sounds respond to their movements. Finally, the effects of using sonification for enhancing movement habilitation will be tested in a number of experimental studies.

Layman's description

Children with severe visual-impairment/blindness face unique challenges in learning to control their actions due to lack of sight of movement during development. Existing methods for measuring and assessing children’s movement abilities are largely subjective, and techniques to improve movement often rely on an instructor directing the learner’s movements. Using expertise on perception and action, and sensory guides for enhancing movement performance, we will identify movement challenges faced by children with severe visual impairment/blindness, provide more precise assessment of said children’s movements, and test interactive sound as a means of supporting active learning of key habilitation behaviours (e.g. orientation and mobility). In the longer term this project and the collaboration will aim to build a scientifically-grounded understanding of movement development and habilitation in children with severe visual-impairment/blindness. From this, we can guide the design of interactive ‘movement sonification’ technology that directly tailors auditory feedback to the movement needs and skills of the learning user, based on solid scientific understanding of the effectiveness of sound-movement feedback in habilitation.

Effective start/end date12/11/2015 → …


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