Saturday 25 October, 2014

iPads help ‘blind’ children see

Published On: Fri, Oct 7th, 2011 | Computer Science | By BioNews

Children hampered by poor vision could change the way they communicate by using an iPad.

A University of Kansas team gave the tablet computers to a group of children with a cortical visual impairment (CVI). The severe condition stems from brain damage which trips them from interpreting visual information, making them essentially ‘blind’.

“Children who typically didn’t look at people, didn’t respond with objects or responded in a very repetitious fashion were absolutely glued to the iPad. It was an amazing experience,” said Kansas University’s Muriel Saunders, who led the study.

Saunders, who works with children having CVI, said that traditionally such children work with therapists and parents using a light box, according to the Daily Mail.

This is because children with CVI have an easier time seeing lights and objects in high contrast. “Someone with a severe CVI will spend a lot of time looking at lights,” Saunders said.

With its bright screen, the iPad replicates a light box – but its interactivity, sound and colour are a great deal more engaging to the children with CVI.

“We were using some very simple infant applications,” said Saunders.

“One was called ‘Baby Finger’ where you just touch the screen, and sounds and images and coloured shapes appear on the white background.”

Word of the device’s promise had begun to spread online among parents of children with CVI, but no formal research has been conducted.

“Using the iPad, not only can they interact with a screen, but we can teach them through a series of steps to control things on that screen,” Saunders said.

Saunders is conducting the initial tests of the iPad in cooperation with the Junior Blind of America in Los Angeles.

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