Home > FPGA based visual recognition system for blind people > The sense abilities of blindness

The sense abilities of blindness

We discuss too much about the technical stuff. Let’s put our eyes on our target people, sight disable people.

People always say blind people can hear more sensitive than normal people.

Is it true?

Normal, our answer is yes. But today I read a article ” Blind People’s Other Senses Not More Acute”. It listed several sense abilities of blindness.


Studies have compared the threshold at which blind and sighted young people can identify smells. Rosenbluth, Grossman and Kaitz (2000), for example, found no difference in this, nor in blinded and sighted children’s ability to identify the different smells they were exposed to. The blind children did, however, give a wider range of labels to the smells, suggesting they paid more attention to smells.


The spatial hearing abilities of blind and sighted individuals were examined by Ashmead et al. (1998). They tested how well participants were able to tell the direction a sound was coming from. In this test the blind children did perform better, but only marginally so. Again, this suggests blind children are making better use of their sense of hearing, not that their sense of hearing is ramped up to compensate for lack of sight.


Perhaps, though, despite not having superior olfactory or auditory powers, blind children have a better sense of touch? Morrongiello et al. (1994) tested this by giving blind and (blindfolded) sighted children different types of objects to identify. Some objects were miniature versions of large objects, like a bicycle, while other objects were oversized versions of small objects, such as a big key.

In fact both groups got the same number of objects correct, had problems with the same objects and seemed to use the same strategies to identify the objects. A study on older children did, however, find evidence that by the age of 13 blind children had developed superior tactile strategies than sighted children (D’Angiulli, Kennedy & Heller, 1998).


Of course smelling, hearing and feeling are not the only human senses. There is also taste along with less-famous but no less vital senses like thermoception (temperature), equilibrioception (balance) and proprioception (body awareness). I haven’t been able to find studies on these but I’d be willing to bet the findings would be the same as for hearing, feeling and smelling.

So strictly speaking the myth is just that, blind people’s other senses don’t compensate for their lack of sight. But, while blind people don’t have a more acute sense of smell, taste or touch, they can usethese senses more effectively.


Using echolocation is one of the most striking demonstrations of the way in which people can make more effective use of their sense of hearing. Dan Kish is the Director of World Access for the Blind and this inspiring short film explains how he uses echolocation to safely ride a bicycle on the public roads, just by clicking his tongue. This is absolutely fantastic!

What do you think about their abilities?

There is a video about how blind people cross the street.

source: http://www.spring.org.uk/2008/02/blind-peoples-other-senses-not-more.php

  1. michaeltijskens
    12/03/2013 at 11:25

    I think that they can hear better, simply because the brain doesn’t have to deal with the incoming signals of the eyes and can fully focus on the signals coming from the ears..

  2. 12/03/2013 at 12:41

    Have you also found some articles that give the same results for adults? Because I think the senses maybe are not yet developed that good with children. But I can agree that it is logical that the hardware is the same but the software is different with blind or not blind people. Blind people just can interpret the signals better but the generation of a signal is the same with both groups.

    It was quite instructive for me this post because it is something you think is true but it does not seem so apparently 🙂 Remarkable!

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