Vincent Lévesque

Technical Report

Blindness, Technology and Haptics

Vincent Lévesque

CIM Technical Report (CIM-TR-05.08), McGill University, Montreal, Canada, 28 pages, October 2005.

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The blind and the visually impaired are in a unique position to appreciate and make functional use of haptic devices. Designing devices for the blind is, however, more arduous than many researchers and inventors expect. It is thus important to fully understand the needs and requirements of that community before attempting to create devices for them. It is also important to learn from past research and development in the application of technology for the blind. This survey provides an overview of current knowledge on blindness and rehabilitation technology relevant for the design of aids for the blind, and more particularly for the use of haptics with the blind.

The survey begins with a demystification of blindness and a discussion of the differences between blind and sighted. Follows a broad overview of the many attempts at applying technological solutions to problems encountered by the blind. The survey ends with a discussion of lessons learned from previous failures and successes in rehabilitation technology as well as speculation on the future of haptics and other technologies for people living with blindness.