Ans Withagen, Dr. at the Royal Dutch Visio
Concept development of Blind Children
On the basis of what our senses tell us we build ‘concepts’. These help us understand the world. Conceptualization, as this process is called, does not take place in quite the same way in blind children as in sighted children. This is because their perception of many objects and other things in the extrapersonal and peripersonal space (or far and near space) is different.
During the day our senses provide us with all kinds of information. This is how we make sense of the world around us. Each sense has its role to play and together they form ‘a bridge to the world’. A huge difference between the sense of touch and vision is the fact, that ‘touch’ is a so-called near sense and ‘sight’ is a far sense. For many of us, sight is the dominant sense and therefore the most important. It allows us to take in a situation at a glance and that is why we rely a lot on this sense. Blind children lack this ‘overview’ provided by the sense of sight and have to compensate by using other senses.
During the presentation extra information will be given about the sense of touch; the different functions and characteristics of touch will be described. Furthermore, the influences that affect the concept development of children with a severe visual impairment will be discussed. Advices will be given to guide these children during the concept development.